As part of our Fashion Means Business blog series, we wanted to show the diverse range of careers that students studying Fashion Business courses can go on to do.
We caught up with Freelance Fashion Curator Ryan Lanji at our Graduate School Festival to hear about his career path so far and to ask what advice he would give to budding freelancers and curators…
LCF news: What does it take to launch your own freelance career?
Ryan Lanji: It takes a lot of discipline, a lot of focus and passion, and it take tenacity. I think it’s really important for someone who wants to launch their own business to really think about how they can make it sustainable. You don’t want just one big project to come in every now and then, you need your everyday jobs that keep you going.
LCF News: How can a graduate make it?
RL: Graduates need to be very resourceful, they need to understand what they offer their career and their industry. They also need to personally brand themselves, not necessarily in a celebrity exposure way, but allow themselves to be contactable on all different platforms, have their portfolio of work available online and really be ruthless when it comes to getting their project to come to fruition.
LCF News: What is the top thing you wish you had know when you started out?
RL: When I was studying it would have been amazing if someone had told me that the time was now, and to apply myself and really find what I loved and to integrate that into my education.
LCF News: What are your three words to live by?
RL: Be kind, be fierce and love big.
LCF News: How should students network?
RL: I think they should network very humbly, they should be very polite and understand who it is they are meeting and why it is they want to meet them. Never expect anyone to help, but hope that your passion opens doors for you in those meetings. You need to be fearless when you walk up to someone and say, “I’d love to have a conversation with you about what I do”, but there also needs to be strategy in play.
LCF news: So what are your top three tips for networking?
RL: Be everywhere, be aware of everyone, and always know where you land amongst it all.
LCF News: And what are three words all Fashion Curators should live by?
RL: Knowledge is power.
LCF News: How did you get to where you are now?
RL: I fell into it really, I studied film production in Canada, and it was working in the film industry where I realised that it can be quite laborious and technical and it wasn’t really as magical as I needed it to be for myself. While taking a hiatus from film I met a curator who asked me to work on an exhibition with him and it was my first curatorial experience for a fashion exhibition. When you curate you are creating a narrative, and I knew I had to keep on doing it. After that I moved to London and haven’t looked back since.
LCF News: What were your biggest challenges along the way?
RL: My biggest challenge was valuing the creativity and the professionalism that I put forth. Also, understanding my financial rate, how much to charge someone for consultation or curation. Another thing I had to learn that was a huge challenge for me was knowing who to begin asking for these opportunities and projects and exhibitions. In a freelance capacity you literally have to knock on doors and make things happen, so having the confidence to do that and the capacity to do that.
LCF News: Lastly, what is your top tip for budding curators?
RL: Read everything, know as much as you possibly can and specialise in something. Collaboration is key.