Lesson #4: For Better or For Worse, There is Always Something to be Learned
It may be Wang’s name and Wang’s name alone that adorns everything from the bed sheets to the wedding gowns of her multi-million dollar business, but Wang’s road to success was not paved single-handedly. Growing up in a privileged family gave Wang many advantages that would come to help her in her later life, the most important of which might have been her early exposure to some of the greatest fashion designers in the world.
Wang’s mother made it a priority to take her daughter on frequent trips to Paris, where the pair attended fashion shows by some of the most chic and popular designers of the time. From a young age, Wang was gaining exposure and insight into an industry that most only ever saw from a distance, and she took full advantage in soaking up the experience. It was an early lesson for Wang in the importance of learning at every opportunity.
When Wang was first hired at Vogue, she thought her dreams of making a name for herself in the fashion industry were about to be realized. But, she had another thing coming to her.
“All I did my first year at Vogue was Xerox,” Wang recalls. “But my father said to me. ‘Keep doing it. You’re learning the business from the ground up.’ And he was right.” Despite the job not living up to her initial expectations, Wang quickly discovered that she had stumbled upon an amazing learning opportunity. “I ended up being exposed to more clothing at Vogue than most people see in a lifetime,” she says. “There couldn’t have been a better education for me.”
As Wang worked her way up to Senior Fashion Editor at the magazine, her learning process never stopped. Interacting with the world’s top fashion designers, Wang used the opportunity to take many of them on as mentors, helping her further develop not only her fashion sense but also a deeper knowledge of the business of fashion. They taught her not only what was visually appealing to the eye in terms of clothes and accessories, but how to translate that into a successful business venture.
Today, Wang is appreciative of all the learning and mentors she had along the way, and she knows she could not have gotten to where is without them. To young girls who wish to follow in her footsteps and become a fashion designer, Wang tells them to first and foremost learn all they can about all aspects of the business. “Go work for somebody and get paid to learn,” she says. “It’s tempting to think you can go off and do your own thing, but there is so much to learn in ways you’d never know.”
For Wang, there was never a moment too insignificant or a fashion designer too haughty from which she thought there was nothing she could learn. Indeed, from Xeroxing at Vogue to taking on fashion designer mentors, Wang put in the time to gain the experience and knowledge she needed to set off on her own.
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