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Today we have another fabulous addition to our “Breaking into Fashion” series with Teen Vogue accessories director Shiona Turini:
Born and raised in Bermuda, the Hampton University graduate has been a style connoisseur since her days of bucking the dress code at her uber conservative high school (she insisted on wearing cuffed high-waisted wide legged pants instead of the required skirts). Now at the helm of the accessories department at Teen Vogue, she gives readers the chance to ogle everything from Prada to Payless in her vibrant spreads. She took a few moments out of her schedule to tell you guys a bit about her story and how you, too, can one day catapult to the upper echelons of a national magazine.
Though Shiona always had a flair for style, she didn’t pursue fashion as a career until after college. She says, “I graduated with absolutely NO fashion experience – not one internship. So, when I [finished my studies] and moved to New York, I interned at Yves Saint Laurent in the PR Department. I was there for almost a year as a full time intern but freelanced often at KCD (during the shows and when publicists would travel to Europe). Finally, a position opened up and I was hired at Yves Saint Laurent as the PR Assistant.”
She continues, “At YSL I covered womens, mens, and celebrity, and I was there for almost 3 years. I knew I needed to make a move to grow, and was looking into positions at other fashion houses when the Accessories Director at W Magazine contacted me to see if I was interested in an Accessories Editor position. I’d never worked at a magazine before and I had never even entertained the thought – but it ended up being a great move for me. “
“At W, I handled the shoe and bag and belt markets so I was definitely well versed in luxury accessories. At Teen Vogue, I still handle the shoe and bag markets, but I oversee the entire accessories department which includes myself, an amazing editor, and an assistant.”
A typical day for Turini starts with a 4-10 mile run (she’s currently training for the New York City Marathon), followed by market appointments, showroom visits, and product pulls. She says, “My job is like a constant treasure hunt – looking for the best pieces for each shoot while also making sure I’m always searching for something fresh and new.” In the evening, she heads out for previews or parties, all the while keeping her twitter followers engaged with her Shoe of the Day tweets and instagrams of instances from her fabulous life.
A stellar career demands stellar style, so Shiona pumps up her everyday wardrobe with a few key must haves. She says, “[My mantra is] HEELS HEELS AND MORE HEELS. I’m a shoe girl, always have been. I truly don’t think you can ever have too many pairs of shoes. Unfortunately I wasn’t blown away by the F/W shoes so plan to revitalize my current shoe wardrobe. But, I did love the Vuitton Mary Janes from F/W and am currently obsessed with a pair of suede and snakeskin Balenciaga sandals.”
She adds, “I am also really partial to the statement bag, why be safe, when you can go with a bold print? Proenza Schouler has an adorable ikat printed PS1 in blue. Cold weather obviously means some outwear, and since sometimes, that’s the only part of your outfit that people will see, I say splurge on something special. I have a great sleeveless cape that I can’t get enough of from DKNY, and my Burberry leather jacket is in heavy rotation already. And bracelets are always a must have for me – I typically skip all other jewelry so I can go crazy with the wrists.”
“My right side might be permanently weighed down by the stack on my wrist. In general, I’m always wearing pieces from Eddie Borgo, Fenton Fallon and two gold bangles my mother gave me when I was 16.” Hot!
In terms of advice to you up and comers, Shiona emphasizes having thick skin–and an outgoing personality. She says, “I have always been a really tough person and a go getter. I am definitely not shy. I think that this has really helped me in my career. Sometimes, you need to be pushy in fashion and sometimes you have to accept the fact that you’re going to get pushed around. Maintaining a balance between these two extremes is really the only way I know how to handle my job.
She continues, “This industry, and the job market in general, is pretty tough. You need to be resilient and try not to take anything personally. “
In conclusion, she says, “Stay strong! If you are confident that fashion is for you, stick with it. Make good contacts and great impressions and something amazing will happen for you. Also, be prepared for the demanding nature of this business. It is easy to be distracted by the glitz and glamour of fashion, but it’s no joke. Everyone works really hard to get to where they are, so don’t underestimate the lengths it takes to land a “dream job.” Don’t be in such a rush to get the perfect job. My career is a departure from where I started, but I definitely wouldn’t have it any other way. Learn everything you can and always be willing to work very hard no matter what.” Wise words, indeed.
For more insight into Shiona’s chic world, follow her on Twitter @Shionat and also be sure to peruse her work in the pages of Teen Vogue and online at www.teenvogue.com.
What do you think of our latest Breaking into Fashion interview?
**A lot of you had follow up questions for Ms. Shiona, and she was kind enough to answer!
Whitney said, “I’m a college graduate with no fashion experience but looking to break into the industry. What I wanted to know is how did she keep herself financially afloat while interning at YSL and freelancing for KCD? Also, how was she able to land those opportunities in the beginning w/o the fashion experience?”
Shiona replied, “It’s a pretty long story but I DID have internship experience in travel PR and was offered a job (which I turned down) at a great agency. Even though the Travel PR Rep thought I was crazy for turning down the position, she introduced me to the PR Manager at YSL, and I did a project on her as part of my graduation requirements while at Hampton University. To get the YSL internship I more or less harassed the PR manager… But in a nice way of course! She told me ‘no’ a few times, but I was persistent without being annoying. To be honest I showed up even after she told me the internship program was full. I wouldn’t recommend that at all, but it worked for me at that time. “
“…Since I always knew I wanted to move to NY, I made sure I set an internship start date a few months after graduation. During that time I SAVED every single penny and worked a few jobs – in a dentist office, baby sitting, data entry – no job was too small. I knew that I would need all the money I could get in order to stay afloat in NY, so I lived at home and just worked and saved for about 4 months. When I got to NY I spent some time sleeping on friend couches, walked EVERYWHERE – did whatever I could to make my money last. Thankfully, my parents helped me out with necessities, but there were times I couldn’t even pay the $2 fee for the train (I once hopped it, got a ticket, and basically begged the police officer to have some pity on an unpaid intern. He clearly didn’t care!). It was tough, but those days were some of my favorite memories in NYC. The amazing thing about the city is that you can have a champagne lifestyle on a coca cola budget. “
“A lot of interns are unpaid, and have to work part time in retail etc to be able to intern in fashion. You have to find what works for you. There are also a lot of dorm style housing that are safe and affordable right in the city. You have to sacrifice and save, but it’s worth it in the end. If you really want it, you just have to find ways to make it happen. “
Hope that helps!
Picture Credits: Images 1 & 4, Phil Oh for Vogue.com. Images 2 & 3, Tommy Ton for Style.com. Images 5, 7, 8, and 9 Guerre for Guerrisms.com. Image 10, Parlour Magazine. Image 11, Tamu McPherson for Grazia.it.