The other day I received an email from Mary at SkirtPR (such a fab name for a PR company) regarding GarmentalU’s Style Rep opportunities for college students obsessed with fashion. As I am staunch believer in having side projects while in college, I highly recommend applying to contribute to the site. Employers will love to see your commitment and dedication, and you’ll actually have items to show off in your portfolio.
In case you missed my introduction post, Garmental was founded by Suzanne Kopulos, a woman who professes her style to be ‘glam and edgy with a splash of sparkle,’ and has lived through the process of getting into the fashion industry and building businesses. Read my mini-interview below to find out more about this rockstar industry professional.
NIF: What is your first style memory?
SK: Probably watching my mother sew matching outfits for me and my sibs just about every holiday. We were super cute!
NIF: What inspired you to get degrees in business and law?
SK: I’ve always had an interest in business development and creating a brand. Law school was just a natural progression after undergrad because I wanted to develop better analytical skills.
NIF: While in school, were you working on any side-projects?
SK: I was developing ideas behind Boujie, my first brand.
NIF: While in school, did you develop relationships with any mentors? How did you meet them and how have they helped you get to where you are now?
SK: I think you find the best mentors are indirectly related to your interests. I’ve been luck y enough to be surrounded by teachers and relatives that exercised my mind to develop ideas. It’s really important to watch and learn from those who want to share.
NIF: Tell me about your first month after moving to NYC – what were your first steps towards getting your foot into the fashion industry?
SK: Well, I never moved to NYC. I spent weeks at a time in NYC over the course of a year developing an understanding of how the manufacturing and sourcing worlds work in fashion. I looked up sample makers in WWD, walked the garment district and took advice and recommendations from friends and complete strangers on who, what and where to begin. From there I just made my way soaking it all in and using trial and error. Believe me…there is a lot of error in the beginning.
NIF: What helped you acquire your design and production knowledge? Specific teachers/mentors? Books? Courses?
SK: The only schooling I’ve had is life experience. I’m self taught and basically try to squeeze out every bit of knowledge from every source I possibly can. Research and networking is the best way to learn period. I’m told you don’t learn a whole lot about manufacturing in school either. Basically experience working for other people is where you are going to find the most information.
NIF: Why Chicago (versus New York City)?
SK: I’m from Chicago and was raised in South suburban Flossmoor. After law school, I moved back to be close to my family and start this path. From there I would fly back and forth to NYC, always staying with my college roommate Kolleen. Thank God she lived there!
NIF: Which boutique in Chicago is your best kept secret? Boutique in New York City? Boutique in LA?
SK: I couldn’t tell. Isn’t that why it’s a secret?
NIF: *question FAIL
NIF: Where were you when you first had the idea for Garmental?
SK: Four years ago when I was living in Lincoln Park. I was shopping a lot and thought a “Look of the Day” would be an great way to inspire people style-wise and would ultimately get the word out for independent boutiques.
NIF: What types of people have you worked with to make Garmental a reality and how did you find/meet them?
SK: I’ve known our Creative Director, Sarah Jura, since I was a kid. When she started Brick Studios with her husband Jeff, I hired the duo to rebrand Boujie and design my website. They are the creative minds behind how the site is designed and functions. Korey Karnes launched the site with us too, she is clearly an amazing writer, editor and dear friend with great ideas. She was the perfect choice. Our photographer Margo Kuchuris Wiseman also shoots all of my Boujie work, so that was a no-brainer. She has tons of experience with product shots and people, and we work together as a team seamlessly.
NIF: What do you hope your campus style reps will get out of their experience contributing to Garmental?
SK: My biggest hope is to create a space for 18-24 year olds solely devoted to a dialogue about style and fashion. I would love for GarmentalU to open up the floodgates to personal style talk and really expose what students are thinking, wearing and wanting in regards to fashion and style. This is an open discourse and an amazing platform to be heard. There are no rules, no preconceived notions and definitely no judgments on our part. This is truly a place where the fashion identity of student-life will be examined and reported.
*Interview with a Garmental intern coming soon!