This is a tale of stories. We interview extraordinary women from different corners of the world and deconstruct their professional experiences in the toughest and most desired labor markets.
This compendium recognises the professionally convenient byproduct of their targeted efforts, the paths these brilliant souls took to make it to where they are today: the good, the great, the bad, the seemed-impossible, the idealism turned into panic, the relief, the interview — The job!
This time, we are featuring Amina, a young creative and sustainable design professional revolutionising the textile and fashion industry.
If you would like to get more information on how to get involved in the exciting world of #fashionactivism, you will find this interview particularly interesting.
Meet Amina Sulejmanagić
The world headlines parade millions of refugees as faceless, nameless people in need of shelter… But here they have a face.” The Slow Factory
Originally a Los Angeles native, she moved to New York City at age 17 to attend Parsons School for Design. She completed her third year abroad in Paris, France, where she was awarded the Cathay Capital Prize for her project Koutré, a design-based, fair trade marketplace that creates connections between textile communities to promote sustainable growth. Their project focused on sending young designers from France to work in textile incubators in China. This was based on the premise that there are a number of weaving techniques, which are disappearing; Koutré aimed to revitalise these precious methods of hand-work. Amina co-joined this competition with Isata Yansanehan as part of an initiative from Cathay to bring French and Chinese markets together. The cross-pollination of their creative and pragmatic skills turned them into the first cash prize winners of the contest.
You need a project outside of school to validate your acquired knowledge and abilities to perform.” Amina
Amina returned to NYC to graduate from her Bachelor studies. Beginning her studies as a Strategic Design and Management student at Parsons allowed her to explore the vast realm of design, from studio practices to digital techniques. Her work explores various mediums found in new media art, as well as the economics and ethics in sustainable design.
What did the Strategic Design and Management program teach you?
The program teaches you how to be a resourceful design researcher and it teaches you creative design skills, business skills as well as ethical development and waste management. Even though there is a growing awareness about the problematic of textile pollution and over-production, sustainable / regenerative fashion is still a niche topic within the larger scope of the fashion industry.
I absolutely recommend study abroad programs. For me, the Paris exchange program was one of the most amazing experiences. While pursuing my semester abroad in Paris, I had the chance to work closely with one of my professors; she is an Australian artist. I knew some French, but it was not enough to find a proper job in France. Therefore, I knew that I had to take the chance to work directly with my professor. This experience allowed me to dig deep into the Parisian Art scene as my professor is the owner of a gallery in the city. As a gallery assistant I was exposed to situations such as answering the phone and speaking with other people in French. This made me realise the importance of learning a language while being totally immersed in the culture. In order to speed up my language learning process, I listened to French radio, too.
Seizing this opportunity exposed me to a fantastic network of influencers. For instance, I had to deliver a book to the director of the Centre Pompidou. I definitely believe that the experience was so much richer because I went directly with a connection to an educational institution. We never know, but I feel that the situation would not have been the same, had I gone on my own.
Video by the Parsons School of Design
How did you find your employment opportunities in Paris and in New York?
When I was in Paris, my roommate talked to my professor (around September) and asked her if she knew about any job opportunities. My professor said that she was actually having an exhibition in December and that they needed someone who could speak some French to be hired as a gallery assistant. My roommate immediately thought of me and told her that I could do the job. I immediately started working with our professor and in fact, my time at the gallery was counted as internship school credit.
While pursuing an educational programme, seek job and internship opportunities which go in-line with your professional development. That way, you can add this experience as part of your expertise on this particular field of work.” Valentina S. Velandia
Amina: I also worked at the marketing department of American Apparel during my second year of university. I took the job because I knew that I was still on the path to discovering my passion. In fact, I find that the best way to find out what you like and you do not like / what you are good or bad at is by accepting different types of jobs within your field.
I recently worked for The Slow Factory. TSF creates limited-edition collectable fashion pieces by printing high-resolution NASA satellite images on environmentally responsible fibers such as silk and modal, resulting in timeless statement pieces with a mission supporting environmental and humanitarian causes. Their supply chain is 100% clean and fair trade.
What are your future professional goals?
My long-term goal is to go back to Paris and work there. However, for my near-term goals, I would like to stay in NYC as I am currently building my network. I am applying to entry-level creative jobs as a graphic designer, design researcher, or as an editorial assistant. I am open to a range of opportunities wich fall within my profound interests. This flexibility keeps me going and will eventually help me become a more well-rounded individual.