Kara Mac: 5 Things You Need To Create a Highly
Successful Career In The Fashion Industry
Have a NO Sugarcoating policy. When you ask someone a question about your design or try to get feedback on an idea, stress that you do not want to hear what they think you want to hear. That is counterproductive to your business and could cost you a lot of money.
Tell them that you want absolute transparency and your feelings will not be hurt.
The best advice is always the truth.
Aspart of our series about the 5 things you need to succeed in the fashion industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kara Mac. “Saving the Planet — One Shoe at a Time” Kara Mac (Schwartz) studied fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology and spent her professional life as an apparel designer, specializing in knitwear for brands such as Ralph Lauren and Talbots. As a train commuter, she went through two to three pairs of shoes each day, depending on the occasion. It gave Kara an idea to reduce footwear’s environmental impact by reusing what one may already have and make it last longer, decreasing the number of shoes dumped in landfills, and the added weight in her work bag.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I lived in New York City for 25 years and worked as a design director in the apparel industry. Then 9/11 happened and I questioned, “what to do with my babies if we ever had a fire in our building, do we throw them out the window?” We lived over Ladder 25 on the Upper West Side that sadly lost 8 men during that horrific day. I HAD to protect my family so my husband and I decided to move to the suburbs. This required a daily commute on the Metro North train. It was a five minute walk from my parked car to the train and a 20 minute walk from Grand Central to my office. I had about a dozen pairs of work shoes under my desk or in my office closet. If I had an event that night, I had another pair in my shoulder bag along with my laptop, paperwork, food and anything else I schlepped from home to office. Ten pounds and a bad back made me wonder…And then, one day it hit me, “Why do I need so many shoes to get through my busy days”.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?
“If you can’t laugh about it, why bother?” It’s my go-to in every aspect of my business and lifestyle. As an entrepreneur wearing way too many hats and dealing with more than a 24 hour day can offer, my positive mental attitude can be exploited. But in the long run, it’s not a life or death situation when things go wrong. Learn from it, make sure it never happens again and get over it. Tuck a feather into one of those hats and laugh it off.
Do you see any fascinating developments emerging over the next few years in the fashion industry that you are excited about? Can you tell us about that?
I am enthralled with the fact that the fashion industry is finally getting in gear when it comes to sustainability. This industry is the second most toxic industry on the globe. There are many organizations and subscription services that are harnessing the fact that fashion is bad for the planet. I read about it on The Business of Fashion, The Conscious Fashion Campaign, Good on You and many other publications. The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs developed the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and fashion companies can make promises to fulfill certain goals by a specific year and that list is growing daily.
Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Top 5 Things Needed to Succeed in the Fashion Industry”. Please share a story or example for each.