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Flying Solo in the Fashion World is Not My Thing

Updated: Nov 7, 2020

by Karine Melissa, MM

Article featured in Creativ Magazine

The fashion industry has drastically changed...

The fashion industry has drastically changed over the past few years. From all types of fashion shows around the city to fashion brunches and tea parties, I think the move that forced me to finalize my idea of the relevance of events was when Mercedes-Benz pulled out of Miami Swim Week. If you follow the fashion game closely, you know that it was not necessarily a surprise. What it was though, was a definitive confirmation that this way of thinking had become overpowered by a phenomenon that the world cannot seem to get enough of.

Now, let me preface this by saying, fashion shows are a powerful tool in the industry. Nonetheless, it became clear that social media had taken the place of the original concept of fashion show productions. Fashion shows are an opportunity for designers to connect with their consumers and press in an intimate, entertaining, and in-person kind of way. Clearly, that is extremely important. However, the intake of social media and the need to have immediate access to a product is a phenomenon that has taken over the world. A fashion designer now has the power in their hands to connect with consumers and press from all around the world simply by posting their products on any social media outlet. With this kind of power at their fingertips, why would a fashion industry professional need anyone or anything else?

Well, here’s the thing. In my years of expertise, a fashion show is more about the team of people that a designer becomes connected with rather than just the show. Here’s what I mean. When a designer books (let’s just call it) a fashion show experience, they also get a team of people with endless resources and knowledge about the industry (if you book the right team). Teams are an essential part of the fashion industry existence. As much as we may fight it, the world runs on teams of people that we need. I know that no one likes to think that they “need” anybody but, many times we do need people to assist us in bringing our dreams to reality. Hence the idea of a fashion show production. When a designer books the right people to produce their show, they gain access to a team of people they can connect with, learn from, and create with. This adds to the cliché, it’s all about who you know. This is by far one of the biggest benefits to having a team. Thus, I have developed a team-based organizational culture.

The fashion industry is an ever-changing industry...

The fashion industry is an ever-changing industry that relies heavily on team-based work. There are rarely any one-on-one tasks. Understanding this, I built relationships and curated a culture of purpose and empowerment for my team members. My organizational structure promotes this goal. I have learned over my twenty years of leadership in the fashion industry, that every person is motivated by a dream. Their dream is what keeps them going. Therefore, everything that I ask of my team members is something that makes them better equipped to reach their personal goals as well as the company’s goals.

According to Andrade (2016), in team-based structures, each team member has a specific role. In the organizational structure of one of my companies, Fashion Designers Expo, this concept is modeled. Each team member is assigned their own departments. There are ten major areas of functioning within the company. Those areas are finance, creativity, beauty, production, technology, branding, image and design, hospitality, community social responsibility, and social media and marketing. The directors for each department are independent contractors that make up the Fashion Designers Expo team (Team FDE, Each director has their own style of leadership. However, I have worked closely with the Director of Events over the past decade to intentionally shape the alliances and strengthen the communication skills among team members. According to Nilsen and Curphy (2018), high performing teams just do not happen. It takes a lot of effort from each team member. This team-based organizational structure of Fashion Designers Expo works well in the fashion industry. I believe that we have been able to accomplish more of our personal goals by being connected with this team and other teams in our professional journeys.

So, do I fly solo? No, I do not. This does not mean that it is easy to trust others or that industry people will not cause you some professional heartache and pain. This also does not mean that there are not moments that I have to do things independently. However, the amount of accomplishments that I have been able to achieve with a team have outweighed the thoughts of flying solo in the fashion industry. Teams are an essential part of our professional careers.

Now… as we embrace the idea of teams, we understand that effective leadership is a critical part of the process. Good leadership is the essence of why teams actually work. As I continue my doctoral study on leadership among women and teams, I contribute much of who I have become professionally to the teams that I surround myself with. I challenge you to surround yourself with teams that bring out the best in you always.


Andrade, M. S. (2016). Effective Organizational Structures and Processes: Addressing Issues of Change. New Directions for Higher Education, 2016(173), 31–42.

Nilsen, D., & Curphy, G. J. (2018). Organizations That Get Teamwork Right. People & Strategy, 41(2), 42–45. Retrieved from


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