While Roseanna Garcia has run into countless numbers of talented Latinas in her nearly twenty year fashion industry career, very few have been at the executive level. This, despite the fact that Latina purchasing power is expected to be at least 1.3 trillion in 2013. Despite the fact that there are at least 16 different college programs in the L.A. area alone that focus on beauty, fashion, and apparel.
Garcia started Latina Fashionista 2006 to both increase the number of talented Latina graduates in the fashion pipeline ,and to connect current professionals and role models to each other. Conferences, workshops, scholarships, and other events are helping students to cross the bridge of higher education, and build mentoring relationships that Garcia hopes will facilitate success in both their personal and professional lives.
Demographics and purchasing power are just some of the reasons why Latinas have a huge opportunity to play a significant role in shaping the future of the industry. Employers are looking for not only people with Bachelor’s degrees, but also those who have global experiences, perspectives that match the diversity of the audience that they are trying to design for, and sell clothes to. While having a strong awareness of your artistic vision, she also encourages aspiring fashionistas to be flexible, and be prepared to have to adapt to what is an ever changing environment. “The industry changes colors, styles and fabrics at least every three months, if not every week,” says Garcia.
Although many people may have dreams of design stardom, Garcia says that there are plenty of careers in the industry, from working with fabrics and managing production, to traditional tasks such as accounting and marketing. She encourages students, especially Latinas, to be confident in expressing their passion, and to be active in getting to know the industry. That means not only reading magazines and blogs, but also asking to volunteer at events, and even asking to take a tour of firms and design shops.
“A lot of young people go to school, and when they start their work they find out that it’s not for them,” says Garcia. “Get your feet wet before you jump into it. Otherwise, it could be a big price to pay.”
Garcia tells students to be prepared to keep an open mind, both about the industry and their career options. It can get nasty and petty at times, and she tries to get her students to keep an eye out for those in the fashion industry that often get overlooked or unheard (like the seamstresses and other laborers on the cutting room floor.) Like many jobs, it can be loud, chaotic, and even a little crazy at times. And yet it’s the constant movement of the creative process that keeps her fires burning. “They’re like sculpture to me,” says Garcia. “Seeing something develop from a simple fabric on a table to a garment is like [watching] a piece of art being made. To see that changing quickly, whether it is colors , fabrics, details; to me that is the most exciting part of the industry.”