Sarah Chang recalls sitting in her first year class at Ryerson listening to a Fashion alumni speak on a discussion panel. “I remember sitting there going, “Well, great! They all sound so accomplished, I’m screwed.”
Chang, a 2014 graduate of the Fashion Communication program at Ryerson, now lives in New York City working as a Fashion sales and marketing intern at Aeffe USA Inc. It’s an Italian company responsible for the production and distribution of garments from luxury brands and currently represents clients like Moschino, Alberta Ferretti and Cedric Charlier. Chang’s department works with names like Jean Paul Gaultier, Emanuel Ungaro and Fuzzi.
Reminiscent of Anne Hathaway’s role in The Devil Wears Prada as Andrea Sachs who works at Runway Magazine, a lot of her responsibilities include updating new weekly sales numbers, sending orders to factories in Italy and updating client portfolios as well as performing various drop-offs and pick-ups. When she isn’t dealing with clients or running around Manhattan, Chang can be found at her computer rifling through client files.
While at Ryerson her class schedule did not always permit her to take electives, she did jump at any chance that came along to enrol into courses outside of her requisites, including public relations, an avenue she says she hopes to pursue in the near future. A recent position at IMG really solidified this interest in the young professional, granting her access to the other side of the fashion industry as the public relations and events intern.
The company known for representing World MasterCard Toronto Fashion Week made Chang an integral part of the Mercedes-Benz StartUp program for new designers. “Working for IMG has been the most valuable hands-on experience so far and I’m very grateful,” said Chang.
Seeking international experience, Chang landed her current position at AEFFE with the help of a recommendation from a former classmate, who was working the same position last summer.
“In this industry it’s all about meeting people and getting to know them, you never know when you might meet them again and who’s to know when you might need a helping hand or if you can lend a helping hand,” said Chang.
Despite the differences between life in New York and Toronto, Chang still finds herself forgetting that she does, in fact, live in the city that never sleeps.
“Sometimes, I need to pinch myself and be like, “Whoa Sarah, you’re walking down 5th Avenue in NYC surrounded by Americans [laughs], you’re not in Canada anymore,” said Chang.
Along with her full-time job, she makes sure to immerse herself in New York’s vibrant culture, using her down time after work exploring the city with her roommate and friends.
With a 30 to 40 minute commute ahead of her, Chang’s alarm clock chimes at 8:55 a.m. every morning. And every morning, she leaves her Chelsea apartment to face the possibility that the F train, the ‘f’ perhaps for finicky, might not come. Her alternative, the M train, leaves her with an extra three blocks of 5th avenue to walk. Her work day begins at 10 a.m. on the nose.
The fast pace and bustle of the city is all part of the lifestyle, “I feel [as though] NYC is something anyone that wants to work in fashion should experience once in their life,” said Chang.
It is important to consider how you put yourself out there, “Ryerson has brought along so many opportunities for myself to really step into the industry,” said Chang.
“Seeing all my peers working just as hard as I am trying to find their place in the industry is what motivates me,” said Chang.
She believes that experiencing the different aspects of the industry at the start of her career is the best approach for her. It has allowed her to find what she is really interested in doing for the coming years.
“Fast forward to four years later, I’m still trying to find my footing and my place in the industry.”