I recently wrote a post about moving to LA (peep it here), but the reason why I ended up in Lala Land with a degree from FIDM is a story of it’s own.
After graduating from California State University, Chico with my Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communication Design and minors in Journalism and Broadcasting, I started working in marketing for a property management company that owns shopping malls. That’s right – I was in a mall every single day for two years. For a self-admitted shopaholic it was a dream come true. My wallet suffered, but my wardrobe expanded by the day, and as anybody with a shopping addiction knows, there’s no better feeling than a new bag of goodies in your passenger seat.
But besides all the perks of basically living in a mall, I also added the title of “first big girl job” to my resume and learned a lot of valuable lessons – both about work and life. As a recent college grad, going from 24/7 fun (minus a few hours studying, but those were usually accompanied by snacks and friends, so how bad could it be?) to 9am conference calls proved to be an adjustment. The work world, especially the corporate kind, was interesting to navigate. However, day after day, I became more and more comfortable until suddenly, the job was second nature to me. I loved the people I worked with, felt like I found my place in the office, got in the groove of my daily tasks, and was confident in my ability to be successful in my role.
I was planning events – the holidays were insane, can you imagine listening to mall Christmas music every day, all day, for two months? (PS I secretly loved it) – negotiating contracts for sponsorships, designing collateral and advertisements, running social media accounts, coordinating internal activities, and working on cross-promotional partnerships with over 70 brands. All of this took place in a fun environment where people went to enjoy themselves. Honestly, it was the perfect first job.
With that being said, after a while I found myself getting a little too comfortable, complacent, and ready for the next challenge. When I was in high school I heard about FIDM (the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, but didn’t know anyone who went there. I figured going to a four year university was the right choice, and for me, that turned out to be true. But I always kept FIDM in the back of my mind, and by the time I started getting a little antsy at work, the thought really started eating away at me.
I called up the advisor office, and set up a meeting at the San Francisco campus. We went over my options, and I learned that I could earn my Professional Designation since I already had a four year degree. It was essentially a masters within the industry, and after hearing that, the rest was history. I debated on my major at first; I went back and forth between Visual Merchandising and Beauty Industry Marketing and Merchandising, and eventually went with the latter (which also proved to be a good choice for me). Even at the time, in my heart I knew it was the right choice.
The only catch was that the San Francisco campus, which was near my hometown, didn’t offer the specific program I wanted until October. It was January, and I was at the point where I had that “now or never” feeling burning inside me. The advisor hinted that the LA campus was offering a June start date. At first, I brushed it off, but on my drive home I really started thinking about it. I had always wanted to live in LA – why shouldn’t I go for it? (Okay, I had some more in-depth thoughts other than that, but you get the point.) By the end of the night I had pretty much made up my mind: I was quitting my job and moving to LA to go to FIDM.
The stars aligned and I had a friend from college who had an opening in her apartment in Hollywood. I started school and on the first day, I knew I was in the right place.
My program focused on marketing and branding for everything specific to the beauty industry. I took classes like Brand Imaging, where we learned about USP (unique selling proposition), Fragrance Marketing (made my own perfume, mad scientist style), Color Theory, where I created original products and conceptualized everything from shade names to packaging and executed competitive analyses and promotional launches. I also met some amazing professors, most of whom worked as consultants for major beauty companies and had rich history and experience within the industry.
For a total beauty junkie, it was the best thing to ever happen to me. It combined my background in marketing and passion for beauty products, while blending in perfectly with my prior degree. But more importantly, I really proved something to myself. I got outside my box, moved to a new city, and pursued a passion that was years in the making and could have easily been ignored. Going back to school after working full-time for a couple years definitely was a challenge, but it was so worth it. If you are reading this and take anything away from it, it should be to stop thinking about the reasons why you shouldn’t do something and just go for it. The payoff is truly amazing. As long as you are realistic and know that some days will be a struggle, seize your opportunity and dive in head first. The time really is now.
If anyone has any questions about FIDM, feel free to reach out to me! I would be happy to give advice or guidance.