During our late aughts-era addiction to a certain California-set MTV reality show, we watched the endless drama that engulfed the lives of Lauren Conrad, Audrina Patridge, and Heidi Montag. But when it came to the fourth member of The Hills clique, Whitney Port, the primary focus was on her blossoming fashion career rather than her personal life. We watched her as the intern who did go to Paris for Teen Vogue, the determined PR assistant at People's Revolution, and as she ascended those iconic DVF steps in her New York City-based spinoff, The City. She's always been the driven career girl we aspire to emulate—and to further that mission, we sat down with Port during her appearance at the Linkedin Discussion Series to chat about her progression from reality star to full-fledged fashion designer.
1. Experience is of the utmost importance. The public got their first glimpse of Port while she was interning alongside Lauren Conrad at Teen Vogue, and it was those experiences in the industry that she credits most of her business know-how. Not only did these roles allow her the necessary practice, but they also opened the door for tons of new networking opportunities.
2. Don't expect handouts. When starting a business from the ground up, you can't expect success delivered on a silver platter—even when you're a celeb. Despite the undeniably helpful exposure from her stint in reality television, Port still had to earn the respect and notoriety necessary to launch a profitable brand. In fact, Whitney Eve (after five years) has just reached a major milestone: The line will be sold at Nordstrom starting this fall!
3. Be patient. Success doesn't happen overnight and it takes a ton of time and perseverance. "The no's are inevitable," Port says. "You're going to get a million no's before you get one yes." Hang in there.
4. Don't let negative energy affect you. Port knows a thing or two about demanding bosses and difficult-to-deal-with colleagues. If you feel the need to address a problematic situation, look for moments when the confrontation can be most productive. Read: Don't scream at each other in the middle of the office. Port suggests, "Stick to what you're doing and stay motivated in your own personal goal. [Negative energy] will just disrupt you from doing the best job you can do."
5. Get an education. You can pave your way early on with classes and relevant internships. If you want to master a skill, immerse yourself in it.
6. Surround yourself with supportive people. Whitney Eve is a family affair. In the early stages, her father (who worked in the garment industry) was a tremendous help in getting the line off the ground. Today, Port runs the business alongside her siblings. The people in Port's life, particularly fiancé Tim Rosenman, are supportive of her drive and incredible work ethic. Things would be a lot harder if they weren't.
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