At the age of 18, Sarah Koss left her home in Seattle, Washington to study Fashion at John Casablancas Institute.

“I love fashion and wanted the opportunity to live abroad, which JCI was able to give me.”

While studying the Fashion Business and Arts Program at JCI, Sarah received internships at Horton Berner and Moulé. Once graduating JCI, Sarah began her journey at Nordstrom as Men’s Clothing and Furnishings Manager in January 2012.
In 2013 she began to move her way up in the company and became Studio Manager for a year, then got promoted to Personal Styling Manager. As Personal Styling Manager, Sarah was responsible for managing large teams in developing and executing high-level business plans.

In 2015 Sarah was appointed as Nordstrom’s Styling Sales Manager where she taught selling through organized classes and worked with over 800 sales representatives. Recently, the JCI Fashion graduate got promoted to Business Analyst for the Nordstrom Technology team.

“I love managing people and helping teams build out a structure for new roles and launches. My immediate goal is to be a project manager and who knows where life will take me from there!”

How did you get involved in the fashion industry?  
While I was a student at JCI, I had my own fashion blog, Twitter account, and other social media accounts. When I was near graduating the fashion program, I tweeted a Nordstrom store manager about current opportunities and he replied telling me to call him the next day to discuss employment. The rest is history!

During school, I interned with Horton Berner Fashion Group, one of Canada’s leading Fashion Showrooms. I also scored an internship at Moulé which I loved. I would tell every JCI student to apply for an internship while you’re in school. This is the best way to get your foot in the fashion scene, build connections and get real life experience.

“The Fashion Director at JCI at the time, Nicola MacEwen, really pushed for me in my internships and got me interviews. She was an important person in my development and professional career—I’m very thankful for her.”

Tell us about your Nordstrom journey.
I’ve had many different positions within Nordstrom. From managing the men’s and women’s departments to Personal Styling and most recently I was the Sales and Styling Manager. As a Sales and Styling Manager I was responsible for new hire training, the personal styling team, elevated sales programs, teaching and educating on tools and store systems.

“I love that the fashion industry is always changing and evolving. No two days are the same and I’m always learning something.”

I just got promoted to a corporate position as a business analyst for a technology team. My goals are to be in the program management team and this is the perfect next step to get me onto that path.
What do you do when you aren’t working?
I just bought a house and we got chickens! That’s really fun and time-consuming. I’m also a big sister for the Big Brothers Big Sisters Organization which is very rewarding. My hobbies include hiking, playing tennis and traveling.

“People describe me as an outgoing, eager and go-getter type of person.”

What are some challenges you’ve come across in the industry?
I believe that the challenges are more around specific education. With the market flooded by people who love fashion, the JCI program gives you a great crash course on all things fashion and allows you to find your true passion. If you want to get into business or something more specific, additional schooling and specialized degrees are helpful.

What advice do you have for aspiring fashion students?
Volunteer a lot— whether it’s a fashion show, sample sale or store opening, you will build a lot of connections by keeping your mind open and putting yourself out there. What really helped me is not worrying so much about a specific job when I graduated, but more on the company I wanted to work with. 7 years later and I’m still with Nordstrom!

“I get inspired by people who think out of the box. I love when people can truly be themselves and express who they are from what they wear. It’s all about empowering each other.”

Picture via Sarah Koss’s Instagram 

Love fashion and want to make it your career? JCI Institute Vancouver’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 fashion school grads a distinct advantage both in knowledge and skill. Prepare for many jobs in the fashion industry, including becoming a fashion buyer, fashion stylist, or for work in fashion merchandising. If becoming a fashion designer is more your speed, choose our Core Fashion Program. This course at our fashion design institute will give you all the skills you need to be a fashion designer. Choose between our fashion programs to find the best fit for you!