I’ve gotta say there is nothing as beautiful as connecting, talking and inspiring the future leaders of tomorrow. I enjoy working with youths and when I look back at my life’s journey so far, I realize I have always worked, in some capacity, with young people. I enjoy, a lot.
On September 30th, 2010, I had the honor and privilege of joining an esteemed panel of fashion industry colleagues to share insights with Delta College fashion students in Stockton, California about the fashion industry. My insights centered on my personal journey so far from how I got into fashion to my current role as an attorney representing clients, including those in the industry.
Last year, I had the opportunity to speak at the inaugural event and my focus was on my publishing company, Ladybrille. This year, I opened up a lot more covering law and life lessons in general. Myself and my panel members, moderated by the amazing Leslie Asfour (Delta College’s Fashion Director), spoke to a room full of eager and very attentive students.
I must confess that as I listened to what my colleagues had to say, I was very inspired to achieve even more. Our combined stories, to me, were POWERFUL! As one panelist Michael Palladino put it, “I was born with a wooden spoon in my mouth.” His statement seemed to resonate with us all. All panelists did our time to get to where we are. The road was definitely not easy but we have made it so far.
What did we do with the Students?
We Shared Our Backgrounds
Michael Palladino, formerly with Henri Bendel for 18yrs, worked with some of fashion’s biggest names and has appeared on numerous TV shows including The View, Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood. Palladino is now an instructor at LIM College in NYC and CUNY Kingsborough in Brooklyn.
Renata Barberie Campion is a runway model turned fabric technology innovator. She worked with Levi Strauss for ten years in the Women’s Brand division and was at the helm of the company’s fabric technology innovation. She now runs her own company.
Jeni Elizabeth is a Celebrity and TV Fashion Stylist whose styling has graced the bodies of Carrie Underwood, Lindsey Lohan, Paris Hilton and Marissa Jaret Winokur. Her work is everywhere from fashion look books, music videos, celebrity editorials to some of the hottest reality TV shows.
Billy Hutchinson is a Calligrapher/Stationer and also the Assistant Manager of Gump’s in San Francisco. His work has been featured in InStyle Weddings, Elegant Bride, 7×7, Better Homes, Surface and Gardens Magazines. He has also done calligraphy work for some of the country’s leading retail establishments including ABC in New York and Soolip Paperie and Press in Hollywood.
Uduak Oduok- You already know my background. If you don’t, read here.
We Shared a Lot Including Insights on Life
- Trust in yourself and the decisions you make
- Be confident
- Have integrity. Be conscientious of the way you treat people
- DO NOT burn bridges. Michael was on fire and also had this great statement he made. “No matter what you do, do NOT burn bridges. The fashion industry is small. Spit and you will be spitting on someone’s face.”
- Know who you are. Dig deep, understand your values so you can answer that question of who you are. As Michael put it, “when you walk into a room, don’t be arrogant but know who you are.” It is essential you know who you are to survive in the fashion and entertainment industry and the world in general.
- Work hard and smart
- Show the hunger and passion, especially where you are meeting those you want to impress or work with
- On the previous point, do your research and know all there is to know before you meet that person/employer
- Be reliable and consistent
- Respect self and others
- Think and invest in your personal brand i.e. your image, how you carry yourself etc.
- Leverage the connection and access you have into tangible relationships
- It is about relationships. Don’t go to people wanting something. Build relationships with people. The return on investment will be very rewarding financially and inter-personally.
We covered a lot. After our talk, Leslie Asfour divided us into separate corners of the room after which students approached us with their questions. My night ended with a beautiful dinner at one of Stockton’s high end restaurant Le Bistro with fellow panelists. It only made sense we take our advice and begin/continue networking and building relationships. 🙂
Some of the Emails I Received From Fashion Students Regarding my Visit
“[T]hank you again for your insight and encouragement to follow your dreams without losing sight of who I am . When you were at Delta last year we spoke briefly and at that time I was not sure I wanted to pursue fashion as a career as I was a nursing major, but that’s not what makes me happy. So I have made some huge decisions and am returning to Delta college in the spring as a Fashion Stylist/Publicity and Marketing Major. . .” ~A.B
“Hello Uduak . . . from the moment you walked into the room, your soul brightened up the whole place! . . . I loved every moment you spoke and all I could think (of) (w)as I hope one day that can be me up there speaking to some young souls who only want the best in life. . . I really hope you take the time to realize that you have a gift you were blessed (with). You truly are a queen! And you should use your power to bring souls off the ground! You can do so much! [I]’m so thankful that God blessed me to meet you . . .” ~A.W
“I attended the fashion event at Delta College. It was nice meeting you. You were very inspirational and it was exactly what I needed. Thank you.” A.G
“Uduak, I wanted to say thank you for coming to our event again this year. I enjoyed speaking with you and hope we can keep in touch with one another. You gave me some great advice and I really appreciated it! [G]od Bless!” ~S.G
“Hello Uduak I wanted to thank you very much for coming to the event and supporting the program. You are a real inspiration. When Michael mentioned something about “knowing who you are” you looked excited like if that were the key to success and seeing your excitement for that and thinking about all of your achievements really pushes me to figure out who I am. Thank you very much and I hope we stay in contact.” ~G.C
“It was really nice to meet you at the ‘Meet the (Fashion) Industry Insider’s’ event! Thanks so much for coming! [I]t was great to talk with you. You are so smart and such a hard worker you’re definitely an amazing role model! . . .” ~K.G
“Thanks for coming out last night. We didn’t get to connect too much, but I really appreciate your advice. Hope you have a great weekend, and to hear from you soon. . .” ~J.O
I am inspired and humbled. The event was remarkable and inspirational. Thank you so very much Leslie Asfour for the opportunity.
Photo Descriptions: Panel members L-R: Billy Hutchinson, Renata Barberie Campion, Michael Palladino, Uduak Oduok, Jeni Elizabeth.
Last photo – Leslie Asfour, Fashion Director at Delta College
~Photo credit: Stan Rapada & Mike Chavez Jr.