After first preparing for a career in journalism, Christine Capuano decided to follow her lifelong dream of working in the fashion industry and applied to FIDM. She graduated last year with her Merchandise Product Development, Professional Designation Degree and is now working at Forever 21 as an Assistant Production Coordinator. She said she loves doing something she truly enjoys. Read on to learn more about this inspiring FIDM Grad.
Tell us a little about yourself: I grew up in New York, moved to Phoenix when I was twelve years old, attended Arizona State University for my undergrad and received my Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism & Mass Communication. Graduating in the midst of the recession as print journalism was quickly becoming a dying field proved to be much more difficult to find a job I was excited about, and I ended up working as a recruiter for almost two years. It was a nice job, but not at all something I was passionate about. I moved to Los Angeles in July of 2013 and decided to follow my lifelong dream of working in the fashion industry and I haven’t looked back since.
Where are you working now? I work at Forever 21 in downtown Los Angeles and am an Assistant Production Coordinator in the Contemporary/Love 21 department. I basically am the liaison between our buyers, designers, product developers, and our vendors. It’s a lot of work, 50 hour weeks, but very rewarding to finally be working for a company I love and doing something I truly enjoy.
How do you feel FIDM prepared you for what you are doing now? When I first started at FIDM, I had no idea what I signed up for and I don’t think many students do. In the ten months I was there, I learned how to sew, work with color and testing, merchandise math, product development, design, etc. I literally learned a little bit of every facet of the industry and everything I learned I have seen play out in the industry, which has been really rewarding.
Looking back, which classes at FIDM were most valuable to you? Fabric Identification, Apparel Process, and Product Development have proved to be very essential. I have meetings every morning with the wife of the Forever 21 President to confirm color, print, trim, fabric swatches, strike offs, and CADS, and I definitely wouldn’t want to be speaking with her not knowing what I was talking about or what she was asking me. I really was not a fan of Apparel Process in the beginning, but knowing how to spec, and why garment fits aren’t working or issues are arising is vital.
Any advice for current FIDM Students? Soak up everything, while you can! Do internships. I interned for a stylist who is also a graduate of FIDM, Rodarte, and a public relations firm. The one I was most excited about ended up being so utterly terrible. I didn’t learn very much; they weren’t nice or communicative with me; but in the grand scheme of things I was only there for one month, and having their name on my resume undoubtedly got me both of my post-graduate jobs including the one I have now. Sometimes you have to do things that aren’t so glamorous, but trust me—it pays off!
What is your biggest goal right now? I would really like to become a part of our creative team. I love watching the designers, graphic designers, and product developers collaborate on new developments. Right now I am very fortunate to be working very closely with my team, but being able to be a decision maker and see my personal taste and choices reflected in the garments is a huge goal of mine.
Anything else you’d like to share? I was very blessed to be able to go back to FIDM, which was a dream of mine ever since I was 14 or 15. I didn’t go until I was 25, and was slightly discouraged at the overwhelming number of young students in my classes. I started to rethink my decision to go back to school, but I am so glad I stuck it out. I met a girl around my age on the first day of classes, she became my roommate about six months later, and we still live together today. It really is never too late to follow your dreams! I put in ten months of extremely hard work and it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.