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Meet Marika Mousseau, Head of Global Public Relations at Vancouver Fashion Week

Organizing a Fashion Week involves many different fashion professionals who are experts in their fields ranging from director to designer. With the series “Meet Fashion Week professionals”, FashionUnited looks behind the catwalk to introduce those who bring great fashion events to life all around the globe. We recently chatted with Marika to learn more about her role as head of Global Public Relations at Vancouver Fashion Week.

Marika, you are working at Vancouver Fashion Week, can you tell us a little bit about the event?

VFW is now in its 16th year and 27th season! I can’t wait. Vancouver Fashion Week is one of the fastest growing fashion weeks in the world. We are actually the second biggest in North America, just after our friends at NYFW. VFW is a stage for talented local and international designers and has served as the gateway for those who are yet to show in the big events such as London, Paris, Milan and New York. We look up to those shows and our founder routinely attends fashion weeks in Europe and around the world to cultivate ideas, contacts, designers and fashion editors to bring back to Vancouver - launching VFW as a world renowned fashion week.

Please tell us about your role at Vancouver Fashion Week?

As the show is around the corner, everyone is extremely busy in the office. I tend to start my day at 5.30 or 6.00am and hit the mailbox from home to make sure our contacts in Europe and Asia get what they need before the end of their day. It’s all about time zones. Then, I treat myself to a hot tea and have a meeting with our media team here at VFW. We have over 17 media coordinators in our internal team alone working with hundreds of publications around the world. When it’s this close to the show, it’s all hands on deck for everyone. The rest of my day usually involves assisting our founder Jamal with on air/broadcast interviews, reviewing copy and being on the phone with editors and various media outlets. My phone never stops ringing. Sometimes I feel like all I’m doing is being on the phone and answering emails. It’s a 24/7 job and it’s really hectic, but that’s what I love about it.

What do you like most about your job?

I love the fact that we get to work with so many amazing, talented people. From designers, buyers, to the media we speak to on a daily basis, everyone has a passion for what they do and I think that’s brilliant. It’s hard to find an industry where everyone is passionate and the thing is with fashion, 99% of the people who are in the field chose to be here and have worked really hard to be where they are now. That’s what makes it special.

I also love the fact that everyday is different. Somedays I will stay in the office all day and do admin work and other days I will be running around the city meeting with designers, editors or potential partners. The whole team relies on each other and chips in to get things done, especially so close to the event.

Did you always want to work for a fashion event like the Vancouver Fashion Week?

Just like most kids, I wanted to be many things as a child, but one interest stuck: the fashion industry and fashion magazines. When I was younger, my dream was to work for Cosmopolitan. I had piles and piles of every issue and wouldn’t throw them out. While travelling across the world in the last few years, I bought and carried Fashion Magazines from every country I visited. Now that I am back in Canada, I get to snoop through them for inspo! It’s such a good feeling when you see clients you’ve worked for or even contributed articles you’ve written getting published – I always print them out. Working for VFW allows me to combine my 3 passions in one role: PR, Fashion & Events. I couldn’t ask for a better fit.

What is your professional background? How did you become Head of Public Relations at Vancouver Fashion Week?

I have a very colourful background, as I didn’t follow the usual path. I graduated from PR a few years back from La Cite Collegiale in Ottawa to then fly over to Sydney, Australia to work as an intern with Ogilvy PR. It was a great experience to work with so many smart cookies of the industry. Then, I worked in events for a few months in this small town called Cairns. That’s where I realised events were for me. It’s such a rush and a lot of work but the final product is definitely worth it. After that, I moved to the UK where I started working in a digital marketing agency where I had a few clients in different industries such as fashion. Again, it was a great experience but there was something missing for me. Spending my days in front of computers was just not right. I needed to get back to my real passion and that’s PR so I did! I started working with a Tech PR firm and that’s where I learned most of the tricks in the book. If anyone has ever experience the UK tech and business press, they know how harsh and cut throat it can be but it was probably the best learning experience I could’ve had. Finally, a few months ago I moved back to the homeland and met Jamal. Probably the weirdest interview I’ve ever had but he wanted to make sure I was the right person for the role. I needed to prove to him that I know what I’m doing and that I am as passionate about PR as he is about fashion. I guess it worked!

What is your advice for those who want to pursue a career in fashion?

The best advice I have for people who want any kind of career is to go for it, whatever it is. People aren’t going to give you a chance until you prove to them you can do it. This means work for free, learn, travel, read, explore, do it all. Personally I got the coolest projects, jobs, and internships from booking flights, showing up at doorsteps and selling what I believe in to other people. The worst thing that can happen is for those people to say no. If they do then there are millions of other opportunities, you just need to do your homework and find them. The working world is now full of people with ambitions and career driven millennials. If you stay in your comfort zone and what you know, someone else will take your dream job. Make sure you’re the first one in line to grab it.


Graduate Fashion Week appoints CEO of Mothercare as Chairman

Mark Newton-Jones, chief executive of British mother and babywear retailer Mothercare has been appointed Chairman of Graduate Fashion Week (GFW), the biggest fashion graduate event in the world. He succeeds Rob Templeman, who previously announced his decision to step down from the role earlier this year.

In his new role as the Chairman of GFW, Newton-Jones will oversee the development of the event and help raise awareness of the week across the industry. He will also further develop the current format of GFW, following its 2014 revamp and move to East London.

“I am delighted to be appointed Chairman of Graduate Fashion Week. It is an exciting time to come on board and help the best and brightest global talent gain the recognition they deserve,” commented Newton-Jones on his new role.

“Graduate Fashion Week should be a highlight in the calendar for all those who work in the industry as well as members of the public who love to follow fashion trends. I am looking forward to working alongside the in-house professional team to further develop and expand this outstanding event.”

Currently in its 24th year, GFW showcases the work of over 1,000 graduates from 42 leading UK and International universities. The annual event attracts over 30,000 guests and previous alumni member include the likes of Stella McCartney, Christopher Bailey, Julien MacDonald and Matthew Williamson.

Fioana Lambert, vice president of George at Asda added: “As the title sponsor of Graduate Fashion Week for the fifth year running we're delighted to welcome Mark on board. His wealth of fashion experience will help the George and GFW teams deliver yet another fresh and innovative event for 2015.”

“I look forward to working alongside him to continue to grow the opportunities for young talent in the UK as well as the presence of this fantastic event within the wider industry.” Newton-Jones brings with him over 30 years of experience within the fashion industry. Prior to joining Mothercare in 2014, he was Group CEO at Shop Direct, one of the largest online fashion retailers in the UK.