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JCI FASHION GRAD SPOTLIGHT: NAOMI LAI

18
09.2015

8thh

Tell us about what inspired you to get into the Fashion industry? It started early for me. Growing up I always had a love for fashion- it came naturally. I kept up with trends and was genuinely interested in all areas of fashion and I bought a lot of  fashion magazines as a teen with my allowance money. I also wanted a way to express myself. I had always felt a little different from the people I went to school with. I was quiet as a child and teen and I guess dressing up was a way to express myself.

How would you describe your sense of style? I’m a true Gemini when it comes to my  style- it seems like I have 2 personalities with what I wear. I would describe my sense of style as comfortable cool. Most of the things in my closet are black but I also love wearing color and prints and I rock a crazy printed pant every now and then. One thing stays true with my style: I like a simple silhouette. I’m on my feet all the time for work so comfort is definitely something I take into consideration when picking out an outfit.

Name an essential closet piece every person should have. Denim! Denim! Denim! It’s so important to have a great pair of jeans in your closet. They never go out of style, they lasts for years and you can dress them up or down.

Are there any current trends you’re feeling at the moment? Currently I’m in love with culottes. They’re so chic and comfortable to wear. It’s a different silhouette than what we are used to right now, but fashion goes from one extreme to the other.

Can you tell us about what you do for 8th & Main and how you got started? I am currently the Manager of both our Main Street and Granville locations. The store on Main Street is almost 4 years old and I’ve been the manager there for about one year now. I went to high school with the buyer but still applied when the store opened. I started off with no Sales Associate experience and worked through school at JCI. Upon graduation, I was offered, and accepted, an Assistant Manager position. About another year and a bit later (after the manager at that time quit) I was offered the Manager position. What I do for the stores is basically manage staff (hiring to scheduling), keep on top of what’s selling, make suggestions to the buyer, occasionally go on buying trips, organize markdowns, and merchandise the stores.

Tell us about your experience at JCI? Did you have any favourite moments? Like anything in life, and especially with school, you only get out what you put in. I worked hard and it paid off. Hard work helped me build my contacts in the industry and that has led me to amazing opportunities. I really enjoyed my experience at JCI as I met a lot of interesting and inspiring people. I liked that it was challenging and creative. My favourite moment was putting on the year-end Fashion Show (Porcelain). It really showed my friends and family how hard we worked. It was a wonderful celebration to end our time at JCI.

What advice do you have for newly graduated Fashion students? Intern or volunteer with a designer or anywhere you can. This will let you know if you want to work in this industry. All throughout school I interned for a local bag designer, Andrea Wong of AWbyAndreaWong and now I am an employee of hers. Another piece of advice of I have is to speak up about what you want. You won’t get anything in life if you don’t ask.

What projects can we expect from you in the next few years? We are opening up a store in Toronto so I will be busy doing that in the next year. We are also hoping to open another store in Vancouver. I still hope to be working at AWbyAndreaWong and when I can find the time, I would love to start my own blog.

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Stay social with Naomi:

Website: lainaomi.wix.com/naomilai Instagram: @naomilied Twitter: @Naomi_Lai Pinterest: @naomilai

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JCI’s Fashion Business & Creative Arts Diploma Program provide students with a comprehensive overview of the fashion industry, combining creative and business elements. This diverse approach gives our grads a distinct advantage both in knowledge and skill.

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