amila Zdebik is a Digital & PR Specialist. She has recently graduated from the MSc Strategic Fashion
Management at the London College of Fashion and is currently working for Reserved in Warsaw. Previously, she has worked for Liberty London, La Mania, and Luxury Department stores such as Harvey Nichols and Fenwick.
Kamila studied in London while simultaneously
working in Warsaw to explore both the British and the Polish Fashion industries at once and to gain a global perspective. Besides her passion for Fashion and Business, she is a hiking enthusiast.
Overdressed: Welcome to Overdressed Magazine. We are so excited to talk to you today, Kamila. How did you first find out about Overdressed?
Kamila: Hi! Thank you for the invitation! I met my friend for a coffee, and she showed me the first Overdressed print issue when it was published. I got really interested and since then I have been following its doings (smiles).
O: You have recently completed your MSc in Strategic Fashion Management. During that degree you simultaneously worked at Reserved in Warsaw. How was it possible for you to study and work in different cities at once?
K: Well…. it wasn’t easy (laughs). So, I started working for Reserved 3 years ago as a Digital Marketing Assistant during my Placement Year for uni. After one year, the company offered me a promotion and new perspectives for development, but I knew that I needed to complete my studies in London first. The only option was to split my time into halves to be in Warsaw for one half of the week and in London for the other to catch up on both the lectures and work. I had to reorganise my life literally and figuratively. Airports became my ‘third home’ and each flight was a chance to catch up on some sleep, or work for me. Sometimes I felt like a robot but looking back, it was a crazy time that was totally worth it. It gave me an experience that I wouldn’t have received when only studying or working.
When the pandemic began it became much easier for me to work full-time while also studying full-time as I could stay in one place and all the lectures were online. After work, I simply went back home to study. When I had a big campaign at work this was my priority but when deadlines at uni were approaching, I had to turn my attention to that instead. However, I always did my best to balance both things. To be honest, it was really demanding and took a lot of effort, especially these last couple of months when I was writing my dissertation and working on the RE.DESIGN marketing campaign at the same time.
There was no time for rest. Now, after graduation, this is the first time that I have time for myself and I now have to learn how to rest which is not at all easy (laughs). You asked me how it was possible… long story short, I couldn’t have achieved it without perseverance and the people who supported me during that journey. Especially my family, friends, academics, and my team at work. I can also say that I had one of the best experiences in my life.
O: That truly sounds like a very busy time, but it is great to hear that you had support throughout it. How did you look after your mental health while working and studying simultaneously? Were there any specific things you did?
K: Retrospectively, I didn’t look after my mental health as much as I should have. I didn’t have enough time to rest, I felt overloaded, overstimulated and always in a rush. However, to keep my mental health in a relatively good shape, on weekends I tried to ‘catch up’ on sleep, do yoga, go out, meet my friends, and slow down. It helped a lot and gave me a feeling of partial balance. I’m glad that mental health topics have become more important in the public space and on social media, especially for my generation (Z).
O: What did you do for your undergraduate degree and how did that pave your way to the job and degree you did after?
K: My degree—the MSc Strategic Fashion Management at the London College of Fashion—was an integrated Master’s degree which means I didn’t have to do a Bachelor’s degree beforehand. In general, the London College of Fashion has a very good reputation in the industry globally and from my perspective it opens doors with its name alone. I’m not saying that without a great uni you cannot push your career in Fashion because at the end of the day your talent, knowledge and persistence matter, but it for sure helps in the early stages of your career when you do not yet have any experience.
My studies were practical and created based on the current market knowledge demand. I had time to do internships and work as a Sales Advisor in luxury department stores. After the 2nd year, I had an opportunity to spend one extra year out of my studies to do an industry placement. To do it, I had to have a few internships and a Sales Assistant job in my portfolio. The university prepared me, showing me how to create my LinkedIn profile, CV, cover letters, and how to perform during interviews. This process lasted almost one year including applications. The knowledge I gained was crucial as the recruitment process is often multi-level staged, and you have to face many rejections to secure one placement. I was open to working across Europe, but I knew that I wanted to spend at least 6 months in Poland to find out whether I would want to work there after my graduation. So, I contacted Reserved, part of LPP SA, as it is the biggest fashion retailer in Poland and Central and Eastern Europe, and the whole recruitment process started.
Returning to the topic of my degree, I can highly recommend this course for people who are hoping to become managers or entrepreneurs one day, as you can gain a broad perspective on Fashion Business and understand different fields and opportunities within it such as Buying & Merchandising, Marketing, or even Finance & Accounting. It is also great when you don’t know what kind of position you want to have within Fashion industry. This broad understanding of the Fashion Business also helps me in my everyday job.
[Fashion] is a demanding business; it has its glamorous moments, but that is only a snapshot of the reality.
O: You recently got promoted to the position of Digital & PR Specialist. Many congratulations from us here at Overdressed! While most people probably have a vague idea of what one does in that role, what does your actual day-to-day look like?
K: Thank you so much! As a Digital & PR department, we build the image of the Reserved brand on social media by creating and implementing a long-term strategy for platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, the latest account in our portfolio—TikTok—and doing podcasts. We also collaborate
with brand ambassadors, influencers, media, press, and create special social media projects. To be honest, it is hard to say what my day-to-day looks like because every day is different. It sounds basic but it is actually the truth.
I have some continuous tasks I do every week, such as creating a Pinterest communication plan, preparing materials for posts, team meetings and brainstorming, meetings with influencers, sending a lot of emails… trust me… a lot of them (laughs), preparing press releases with our copywriter, doing research, creating an internal communication plan. Our work is adjusted to the communication calendar—the collections of the season which we communicate and release every month. The most fun part of my work for me are special projects such as doing livestreams, collaborations with illustrators, planning events, or the latest one, coordinating the creation of a limited-edition collection with designers and Gen Z influencers.
O: What is something that people don’t expect to be part of your job, but that actually is?
K: Actually, there is a lot of stuff… (laughs). I think that people would not expect that if you are working in the Digital & PR department you have to collaborate with many people from different disciplines such as influencers, journalists, designers, stylists, lawyers, accountants, or even IT specialists to do your work. Also, many people think that if you work in Fashion, you do nothing, or your work is always glamorous. Trust me you could not be more wrong. It is a demanding business; it has its glamorous moments, but that is only a snapshot of the reality. You will find yourself in situations where you are running big Marketing projects and have to search for the proper equipment to do the livestreams because the film crew did not come through in time or packing PR mailings to influencers.
O: What was the most exciting project or campaign that you have ever worked on?
K: There are two campaigns. The first one is ‘Ciao Kendall’ which we launched in 2019 with Kendall Jenner. This was the biggest Marketing campaign that Reserved has ever launched. One day before the campaign we revealed who the star of the campaign was… it was crazy… everyone was talking about it. I received a lot of messages from my friends and people whom I didn’t even know, telling me that we had done something extraordinary. For the first time, I had the feeling that we had done something really big on a global scale, and not just a commercial ad.
The second project I mentioned before, and I am proudest of was ‘RE.DESIGN this collection was created by Polish Gen Z’ which was also a breaking point in my career. It was the first collection and extensive Marketing campaign in Poland created with #PolishGenZ. We invited twelve representatives of influencers to create the collection. I was involved in that project from the beginning and coordinated the whole process, which meant from the early stages of selecting the influencers to then overseeing them as they designed the collection; this took 6 months during a pandemic. Long hours of calls, meetings, and brainstorming. For the first time, I had a chance to work closely with designers and get an insight into their everyday job. After the collection had been designed, my team, Gen Z, and I created the whole communication plan. While I belong to the same generation, I didn’t want to be one of the Gen Z figures in that campaign but give others the chance to truly express themselves. Therefore, we consulted with the influencers while we planned every move. We did a photoshoot, customization, 2 special murals in Warsaw, the whole communication on social media, and PR—everything during a new reality. While working with representatives of Generation Z, we discovered that during this pandemic Gen Z has been the generation who has suffered from depression the most. For that reason, we are now partnering with the ITAKA foundation in Poland and have launched a one-year program of free telephone, chat, and online meetings for people in need. I mentioned that it was a breaking point in my career, because for the first time I was running such a long and large project and was responsible for it.
Engage in opportunities that are given to you but always remember to stay yourself.
O: Which piece of advice would you give to someone who would like to work in a similar position as you one day?
K: For sure to be persistent. Do not take ‘no’ for an answer. Always try to find three, four, or even more ways and solutions to obstacles. Engage in opportunities that are given to you but always remember to stay yourself. You will also work on multiple projects at once, so you need to master your multitasking skills and prioritise things to do, but simultaneously also pay attention to details.
O: What are your future career goals?
K: I would like to become a Fashion Business expert who specialises in International Marketing. Therefore, during my studies, it has been important to me to gain experience in different countries. I would also like to set up my own business one day which will focus on creating holistic, effective Business and Marketing strategies for starting enterprises and global fashion brands alike. It is important to me to not only increase the profitability of the businesses but also their engagement to support emerging talents by providing them with a good education, combined with industry experience—which is another goal I want to achieve. Also, I would like to be a part-time academic one day to share my knowledge and experience with others and inspire them.
O: Those are truly inspiring goals and we can’t wait to see you reach them and support businesses and brands small and big alike.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions and we are so excited to see what the future holds for you and find out about all of the amazing campaigns you will go on to work on.
K: Thank you, Overdressed, for having me and your kind words! It was such a great pleasure talking to you and I am so glad that I could share my experience and journey with you!
Editor & Layout