Why did you decide to attend the Fashion Program at Ryerson?
I’ve always been interested in fashion and art, a curiosity (to my parents displeasure) manifested in me haphazardly altering all of my clothes from a young age. By the time high school rolled around, however, I was designing and sewing a large portion of my wardrobe and began to look into different fashion programs. Ryerson had a great reputation and at the time was the only university program offering bachelor degree studies in fashion communication. It was important to me to find a balance between academia and the creative field, and Ryerson allowed just that.
Tell us more about your job and what you enjoy the most about it.
I’m currently the Coordinator, Brand and Creative Strategy at Holt Renfrew. The position is quite niche, as while we do “brand strategy,” we primarily do it within the lens of social responsibility. As part of that, my team manages a specialty department within Holt Renfrew called H Project, which supports culture, craft and artisans from around the world through the marketing, merchandising and sale of socially responsible products – whether they’re made by an artisan cooperative in Kenya, are environmentally produced, or have a charitable component. On top of that, we also drive Holt Renfrew’s Corporate Social Responsibility program. What I enjoy most about my position is being able to work within a company with almost 180 year roots in the fashion industry, and having the opportunity to propel it into the future in innovative ways – in turn, hopefully pushing the fashion industry in a socially responsible and sustainable direction.
I also currently freelance write and am the Communications Director for Sophomore Magazine, a Toronto-based feminist fashion magazine for twenty-somethings.
How did your academic experience at Ryerson help you with getting to where you are today?
Ryerson was an extremely hands-on learning experience – from the very first semester we were reaching out and working with people in the Canadian fashion industry, forming those connections from day one. The internship program definitely propelled me into the industry much earlier than a traditional university experience might, which allowed me to graduate with several years of solid experience under my belt.
If you had to do it all over again, what would you change about your time here at Ryerson and why?
If I could do it again, I would explore Ryerson’s student resources more thoroughly, and take advantage of the programs they offered. There were a lot of opportunities I wish I had taken advantage of that I wasn’t aware of at the time.
What does a day in the life of Naomi Nachmani look like?
It’s busy! If there’s one major skill Ryerson taught me, it was how to multitask and properly time manage. Since I’m still at the beginning of my career and exploring different areas of interest, I’m definitely trying to milk that energy and take advantage of every opportunity while I can – whether it’s a freelance job outside of work, or an event invite, I think everything is worth exploring.
Do you have an area of expertise you want to grow and learn about?
I’ve always been really drawn to the digital world. In university I interned at the fashion and lifestyle website Refinery29 and worked as Editorial Assistant at The Coveteur, both experiences that allowed me to view the inner workings of small digital companies. I found the interaction and consumption of digital content by consumers really interesting, and it’s definitely an area I would love to dive more deeply into moving forward.
What is your favorite part about working in the fashion industry?
I love working in the fashion industry because it’s ever changing and open minded. Fashion is such an incredible platform to showcase creativity and explore one’s self, and because it changes so quickly season to season, it really forces you to push yourself and your brand outside of your comfort zone to remain relevant.
What advice would you give a fashion student interested in brand strategy?
I think it’s important to explore many different areas of work and life and really understand all the sides of the industry. If you want a program to be successful, you need to be able to put yourself in the shoes of everyone involved, from the sales team, to the media, to the consumer. You need to understand what makes them all tick and what they’ll respond to, and without ever being in those positions yourself, that’s difficult to do.