Behind The Career | An Interview with TFI Trainer Stacey Vanoska
Words and Interview by Giselle Palermo
Stacey Vanoska is everything I want to be when I start my career; eloquent, polished, educated and diligent. For seven years now, Stacey has continued to inspire students at The Fashion Institute as a Trainer. Each day she arrives to class ready to teach us everything there is to know about fashion-business while managing to look sophisticated and chic at the same time— whether that be in real life, the classroom or online through Zoom.
Stacey’s image of cool, modish professionalism has become a blueprint for successful female girl-bosses. We absorb her words of wisdom and only hope to be as successful as her. But just like us, Stacey has also put in the countless hours at internships, work experience, volunteer events and study in order to get where she is now;
“Work experience was vital in getting my first job out of uni but it also helped me understand different aspects of the Communications industry and to figure out what I could see myself doing in the long-term.”
After many internships and a job at a newspaper, the time had come— Stacey landed a full-time role at Madison Magazine. “I had always loved magazines and really wanted to combine my two passions – fashion and writing. I had dreamt about my ideal job at a fashion magazine for as long as I can remember, but it took a long time to come true”.
“My first fashion journalism job was as editor of a website called 2threads.com (which has since closed down.) This role gave me some amazing opportunities, such as
interviewing leading Aussie designers such as Samantha Wills and Bec & Bridge, as well as attending my first fashion week in Sydney and VAMFF (Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival) in Melbourne. We even hosted “VAMFF’s Designer of the Year” award at Tiffany & Co on Collins St, Melbourne (the winner was Christopher Esber that year!) It was during my work at 2threads that I met Bryce (TFI’s Communications & Careers Manager) and Sarah (TFI’s Director) – almost 10 years ago…”
Thenceforth, she has worked for a myriad of fashion outlets; “I’ve worked in various editing and online roles at Elle Australia, Woman’s Day, Shop Till’ You Drop and Cleo. More recently, I have worked with a range of fashion and beauty clients to improve their social media strategy, public relations and media outreach, including Esther & Co, Dress For A Night and The Wardrobe Collection.”
When Stacey isn’t teaching at TFI, she’s running her own social media agency, THE SOCIAL CLIQUE. Undoubtedly, the fashion mentor relishes extending her knowledge to others. The role entails servicing clients in the fashion, beauty and lifestyle industries, which is aimed at bringing a brand’s story to life by focusing on social media strategy.
As an eminently successful journalist-come digital marketer, Stacey says she keeps to a general rule: do less but do it better. “At times in my career, I have felt as though I can’t say no because I don’t want to miss an opportunity, but really it was that fear of missing out that left me burnt out.”
Stacey is incredibly hard-working— and always has a cup of coffee in her hand to power her along. One thing that she has always aimed for is to “Underpromise and Overdeliver.” Stacey, who has always done more than she originally said she would, seems as if she follows by this rule. To complement this, she is also a big believer in adhering to specific rituals and habits conducive to achieving success and maintaining balance; “Little things give you a sense of accomplishment and a rush of dopamine from being able to cross one thing off your to-do list.” Aside from keeping lists, another habit that Stacey has is to constantly be learning something new. “It keeps your mind active, gives you new and interesting things to talk about and expands your knowledge base.” Currently on Stacey’s reading pile is ‘This Is Marketing’ by Seth Godin and Deepak Chopra’s ‘The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success’. She also revels in listening to the ‘Mind Your Business’ Podcast with James Wedmore.
Admittedly, she confessed that it doesn’t hurt to wind down from busy days by watching some trashy TV, while obviously, “keeping an eye on social media during the ad breaks.”
Since commencing her time at The Fashion Institute as an Industry Trainer in 2013, Stacey has had a rewarding seven years in the teaching field, “I just love sharing my knowledge and experience in the hope that this will help students in some way, shape or form. Teaching always keeps me on my toes and I’m always learning so that I can answer any questions that come my way – which I also really enjoy.”
Despite the prevailing circumstances regarding the recent pandemic outbreak, Stacey has managed to make the most out of the situation. A quick highlight reel of Stacey’s 2020 so far: she has become much more focused than she has been in a while, the ‘new normal’ during quarantine has allowed her to be ‘all in’ with clients/students, but has also “created some healthy boundaries and knows when to switch off and chill.”
As my attention is inconspicuously drawn to her at-home office through recent Zoom lessons, it’s clear that it has an air of organised elegance. Working from home has never looked trendier as I reflect on my personal approach to the day and notice my camera shamefully turned off. Stacey is the essence of efficiency as she guides us on our lesson for the day. “Working from home has been the norm for me for several years now (apart from face-to-face teaching and some client meetings) so I already knew that sticking to a schedule would be the way to go – this includes work times, of course, but also time to exercise (Pilates is my fave), cook meals and even down-time with my doggy, Ralph.”
I quiz her on something I often wonder about. Will the ‘print is dying debacle’ be an issue for students wanting to work in media relations? Stacey expressed optimism about the changing media landscape; “After working at so many newspapers and magazines during my career that now no longer exist, it’s clear to me that print publications ‘as we knew them’ are dead. This means people no longer want to pick up a trashy magazine or free local paper for information that is easily accessible online. But that does not mean that there is not a place for print publications. Magazines and newspapers do have a place in the media landscape, but they need to be high quality and offer something more than you can get on social media or a blog online. I believe this could be the renaissance of quality journalism.”
In saying this, Stacey states that the most challenging thing about her career was being made redundant shortly after she landed a job at a fashion magazine. The magazine was told to close down and employees had five weeks to find alternative employment. Eager to find a silver lining in every cloud, Stacey started hustling and met some great people along the journey who were willing to give her some contract work and was then able to bounce back. “There’s nothing like the fear of not being able to pay the rent or put food on the table to really make you spring into action,” Stacey declares.
It’s clear that landing a job in the fashion industry can be tough, however, Stacey reminds us that we are all on our own path and unique journey. “The challenge is ‘Comparison Syndrome.’ Gen Z seems to be constantly comparing themselves to others and this can be so crippling. You are running your own race and you don’t have to keep up with anyone else – it’s YOUR journey. As the quote states: “Don’t compare your Chapter 1 to someone else’s Chapter 20”. And my advice: Never underestimate the importance of good sleep. Without it, you are unproductive, cranky and less tolerant. Getting adequate amounts of sleep has been life-changing for me and cannot recommend it enough.”
Breaking into the fashion industry can seem intimidating, but the formidable Stacey Vanoska has given so many, myself included, the encouragement to realise that it’s possible. She has had a transformative impact on her student’s lives impermeably and for life.