A better question... Where is the work? It is everywhere. And there is lots of it to be done.
Recent weeks have connected me with some truly talented people in the district, and given me opportunities to learn about what they do and why they do it. It has been a fascinating education. People spend so much time lamenting the demise of the garment district, its real estate woes, and the economy. While all of these are valid concerns, there are some really beautiful businesses employing workers whose heads are down, immersed in serious work, earning pay, fully engaged in the art of making things, or the business of doing so.
Truth: Some of us just love to make things, somehow being professionally involved with companies who make things, or have something to do with the fashion industry here in New York. Learn the names of the jobs you want to do. Production assistant? Design Assistant? Patternmaking? Know what the job you seek is called.
I read a book long ago, since destroyed after one of our NY hurricanes or something - I forget which recent disaster created the random basement flood... entitled, Zen and the Art of Making a Living. A beautifully peaceful book about life and all of the challenges and joys associated with making a living, it really speaks to the working creatives among us.
I also read a book entitled The Business Side of Creativity, where, even though the book isn't about the garment industry, much of the information applies, and one particular sentence impacted me profoundly (paraphrased),
"Remember, while you are looking for opportunities, opportunities are looking for you."
- Think about freelancing
Lots of businesses need the help, but cannot find the talent. Sometimes they aren't full businesses, but large, intense projects, where freelance help is needed. Find out about unions for costume designers and productions, so that you know when the question, "Is this a Union set?" applies. There are lots of reasons why that is important - I could write a blog-novel on that stuff alone... Where do you find internship opportunities? If you're not in school, leave the house and ask. Find the places you want to work, learn about them, go in, and start conversations. And no, the conversation is not, "Are you hiring interns for this summer? No? Okay..." It is asking about what they do, how they do it, whether they can always find enough help, if they need help, need an intern, need YOU?
- Think about internships
Ahhh, internships. You have to evaluate internship opportunities with a careful eye. An internship is meant to serve an educational benefit for the intern, and a work benefit for the company. When the two don't meet, you can end up with a situation like the one detailed in this article , detailing an internship gone wrong.
Once you've done your homework, try these resources.
Consider an interview to be a MUTUAL exchange of wants and needs, so they can see the real you, the value you bring, and the opportunity you seek.
Then, visit your school's internship placement office/site/bulletin board (if you're a student), and/or visit these sites:
- Think about what you can do for yourself
Since 1996, I have owned and managed a website listing self-employed dressmakers and sewing professional across the United States and abroad. If you want to list yourself on my Find a Dressmaker site, list yourself by following this link. Note: Listings are paid, not free, and for a specified length of time.
- More resources:
WeConnectFashion is a site with plenty of links for job seekers and fashion professionals alike. A wealth of information available to you there.
NYC Fashion Info The name says it all, right? Visit the page to learn more.
Above all, think positively, keep dreaming, and know that no matter what, people will continue to get dressed every single day.