As many graduating college students scramble to find a job, Wake Forest senior, Chelsea Dougherty, has big things on her horizon. With an extensive history in the fashion business, and a sophisticated style of her own, she has secured an impressive spot in a management program at Gap. Keep reading to find out more about her experience and advice for Wake Forest students who’d like to follow a similar career path!
Q: Who are your fashion icons and style inspirations?
1. Diana Vreeland (Vogue editor in the 60s), she lived a fabulous life! She made bold statements, stressed originality, and had a mashup of inspirations-from Chanel to Warhol.
2. Blair Eadie (Atlantic-Pacific), she is like the belle of the blogging ball. I think everyone calls her one of their top inspirations these days because she is just so chic! And I love her east coast to SF to NY journey. And she started her career in the same program I am doing!
3. Lilly Pulitzer (no explanation needed), I grew up about 30 miles north of Palm Beach, so Lilly was always my inspiration. I actually started a ribbon accessories business when I was thirteen, Sew Preppy, starting with quintessential Palm Beach colors of pink and green. She epitomized the fun and glam resort life we all know and love her for!
Q: How would you describe your own style?
I love glamour and tend to go for the “more is more” attitude. But I will always have this Floridian preppy flair in my life. From 7th-9th grade, I only wore white or khaki chinos (no jeans), Lilly skirts, and polos with the collar popped obviously! So I don’t think I will ever lose that part of me. However, as I have gotten older, I love looks like all-black ensembles and layering accessories. You can usually find me piled in pearls and gold chain necklaces. But, my future lends itself to a very Americana aesthetic, which is always en vogue in my book.
Q: What prior work experiences in fashion have had the most impact on you?
I think my own business really launched my love and commitment to fashion. I saw it from concept to creation to customer, so that ownership made me realize how special product is. My big intern experiences happened during college summers. After sophomore year I worked at Tommy Hilfiger in New York, and then I spent last summer in San Francisco working at Banana Republic. I also went abroad to Florence for my junior fall and took History of Italian Fashion (best class ever), which gave me a keen appreciation for construction, materials, and of course all thing Pucci, Gucci, and Ferragamo.
Q: We hear you’ve landed an exciting job at Gap this upcoming year! Would you tell us more about it?
Yes! I am thrilled to be heading to San Francisco full-time starting in August. I am doing the Retail Management Program (RMP) which is a 9 month rotational program focusing on merchandising, production, and inventory management. I will be placed in one of the Gap brands (Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy,Piperlime, Athleta) for 3 months at a time, performing each of the functions and then will move into a full-time role at the end of the program.
Q: Do you have any advice for Wake Forest students who are interested in pursing a career in the field of fashion?
I think it’s a mix of tenacity, connections, and having a unique point of view. I would advise anyone interested in the industry to stay updated on trends – not just style but also business ownership, etc. I reached out to a lot of alums during my internship searches, and most of them were super helpful. Also, I created an independent study within my entrepreneurship minor to analyze eco-friendly technology in textile production and fashion which helped to inform my point of view and further develop my interests. I think Wake Style is an amazing new outlet for like-minded people to network and create strong relationships early, so this is a tremendous start for Wake Forest creating a pipeline in the industry.
Q: What are your career goals for the future?
After completing RMP, I hope to potentially start my career in merchandising, although I am completely open and excited to learn about the other functions. I would like to work as a merchant for a few years and maybe transition into a strategic role, particularly related to a global context and sustainability. I am also keeping my education options open and maybe considering an MBA. Long-term I would love to do sustainable sourcing consulting for retail companies. But who knows where life will take me…
Thanks again to Chelsea for such an informative interview. We look forward to seeing what exciting things she will accomplish in the future and wish her the best of luck!