In this exclusive series, Fashionista talks with the 2013 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winners about their experiences during the competition, but more importantly: what they learned about themselves, and about their brands.
Don’t beat yourself up for not knowing Marc Alary’s name, because you’re definitely familiar with his work. Alary’s graphic and jewelry design for Marc Jacobs helped to define the brand’s visual identity throughout the aughts. (He created the Little Marc Jacobs logo, among other major projects.) In 2009, Alary launched his own collection and in 2011, he left MJ to work on his namesake label full time.
Two years later, he’s a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund runner-up with a $100,000 award in the bank and a seasoned mentor in his corner. Here, Alary discusses his big takeaways from the Fund.
Real brands have a real business. “I actually applied when I was still working at Marc Jacobs, and they told me that my numbers were too small,” Alary says. “It was quite good for me, because it forced me to take a good, hard look at the business. I left Marc and concentrated on the line for a year and a half to be able to come in much stronger.”
Sometimes, it’s harder to start something than it is to finish it. “The first challenge was the most difficult. Very scary. Then the rest is very fast-paced.”
It’s OK to take it slow. “I tend to jump into things a bit too fast because I’m so eager. I’m learning from my mentor that doing something good takes some time. So I’m trying to be more patient, to slow down and not make any rush decisions.”
Social media is not the devil. “The great thing about the competition was to see how each designer used PR and social media, and communicated with the judges. I saw them facing the same challenges but coming up with different answers. I’ve always been wary of social media, but I observed one of my competitors using Instagram in the right way, and it inspired me to do it myself.” [Follow him on @marcalary.]
Stick to what you’re good at. Especially in the beginning. “The best advice I got throughout the competition was to stay true to myself, to do what I love to do. As a fine jewelry designer, buyers often want me to do a more affordable price or a less complicated piece. But the judges kept telling me to stick with my vision.”
More Fashion Fund Coverage:
2013 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Winners Announced
Tom Ford’s Definitive Guide on How to Make It in Fashion