Fashion That Makes a Difference: Introducing cooper & ella

Fashion is an art.

The pieces that capture our attention are created by designers who have the ability to see the beauty in patterns, textures, and colors. Combining these elements of design into iconic pieces that evoke emotion and beauty requires talent, patience, and most importantly, passion. The designers who stand apart from the rest are those who find a way for their brand to impact the world in a way that extends beyond fashion and design.

A company that crossed our radars recently is an inspiring addition to the fashion industry. Cooper & ella embraces an entrepreneurial spirit, and creates clothing that make the world a better place. From start to finish, each piece is made with strong intentions to positively impact the people who make, wear, sell, and benefit from the proceeds. Through cooper & ella’s Empower initiative, every cooper & ella purchase provides one hot nutritious meal to a child in need.

Kara Mendelsohn, the creative director and designer of cooper & ella, warmly shares her experience with aspiring designers, and tells us how her desire to improve the world involved standing firmly behind the need to make positive changes in the industry:

A lot of young women who are interested in fashion don’t know how to get started in the industry. Is there any advice you can give that could be helpful?

Kara:

The fashion industry is a competitive one and breaking into it isn’t easy. My number one piece of advice would be to intern. Even if you’re unable to intern in a major city like New York, it’s still 110% to your advantage to secure an internship on a local level – managing social media for a local business, assisting the buyer of a local boutique – whatever you can do to add real-world experience to your resume while attending school. Ultimately, it shows that you’re ready to get started and willing to hustle to get that leg up!

When interviewing candidates for my team, a major requirement of mine is that he/she must be a team player. I always look for the candidate who is willing to go the extra mile for the benefit of the team.  I want someone willing to do whatever it takes to help, even if it’s not glamorous, or even a part of their original job description; someone who embraces learning something new and then works hard to master it.

What were some of your challenges along the way, and how did you overcome them?

Kara:

Some of my biggest challenges throughout my career have stemmed from the need to get others to think ‘outside the box.’ Many companies, often the larger ones, fall victim to ‘routine.’ (They do things the same way for many years and aren’t necessary comfortable with change, even if it’s likely to their benefit.) Getting colleagues and supervisors to listen to new ideas and convincing them that there may be a better way of doing things can be difficult. I’ve found that if you present a logical argument with very clear reasons as to ‘why’ something could be better, along with how that can be accomplished, most people will listen and ultimately give you the chance to execute your own ideas.

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