Durand Guion has been immersed in the fashion industry his entire life. It is his passion, career, and life’s calling all in one, which contributes to his track record of success since taking his first corporate job at Macy’s 28 years ago. “I’ve been at Macy’s for so long because I found a role in a company that allows me to do what I do best. Macy’s gives me the runway to work creatively and be myself, which is really important,” he explained.
Durand began his career in the industry as a Department Manager of women’s hair accessories. From that job, he ascertained that it was his calling to be a retailer because the merchandise that he was working with at the time did not have any personal value to him as a man, but he was still interested in the general process of the product from start to finish. He told scholars that he had one long term career goal in mind from the get-go, and that was to be Fashion Director. He ensured that every career move he made would move him increasingly closer to his goal. After working as Department Manager for a few years, he joined the Macy’s buying office as an Associate Buyer hoping that it would get him closer to his dream goal. Eventually, the Men’s Fashion Director at the time retired, and he ended up applying to the newly opened position, taking a leap of faith and believing in his own abilities and innate skills. “If you are really willing to work for success, it can be yours.” Durand expressed. Throughout his career thus far, he has worked as both Men’s and Women’s Fashion Director at Macy’s, first in San Francisco, and now in New York. He also used to teach two nights a week at San Francisco City College, where he explained that he not only gave lectures, but also learned a lot of applicable things from the students in regards to current trends surrounding the young adults’ target market.
“I do not have a background in fashion, but want to break into the fashion industry. What advice do you have for people aspiring to go into fashion with unrelated credentials?” Another scholar inquired. “While I was teaching, I had two different sets of students in my classroom,” he replied. “There were the 19 and 20 year olds and then there were the older students who came from another career background, whether it was banking, nursing, et cetera, who decided to shift focus into fashion. Of course these students would come across some obstacles and challenges, but the ones who were passionate worked hard to make their dreams into a reality.” “I actually had one student who was working in the advertising department of a well-known fashion company but wanted to be a stylist, so I told her to take a leap of faith and begin taking the necessary steps to get there. I told her to quit her job after taking on a few freelance or volunteering positions and figuring out whether or not she was truly skilled at styling. She was quite talented at it, so we actually took her on as an assistant stylist for a show we were having at Macy’s, and now she became a very successful stylist. It’s all about trusting yourself and taking those first steps, making the necessary sacrifices that will benefit you in the long-run.” Durand explained. He also mentioned that it’s important to be strategic and focused, and to always have a concrete plan in place. No magic will happen if all you do is count the obstacles.
Lastly, Durand discussed personal branding in response to one scholar’s inquiry about achieving success in internships and entry-level jobs. “Your own name is a brand. Durand is a brand,” he explained. “Your personal brand is the one word people would use to describe you when your name comes up in a meeting. It could be a passion point, or the way you inspire people or ignite a fire in your co-workers.” He expressed that a personal brand should be consistent and is usually based on things that people pick up on silently. He also mentioned that personal brands take time to develop and that scholars should start thinking about them now. “Elevate above the ‘student’ mindset. Think about not only how you will reach your goals, but also how you will live once you achieve them.” He explained. “Always position yourself right on the outskirts of your comfort zone, and push yourself to live as if you are one step ahead of where you currently are.”
The scholars appreciated Durand’s personal story and career advice, which was filled with many applicable takeaways and key points. Durand used his breadth of experience and valuable insight to open the scholars’ minds to new ways of thinking, as well as introducing important topics for them to think about. The scholars were inspired and extremely grateful that he dedicated his time to speak to them.
Durand Guion’s Best Tips from the Boss:
Learn something from each stint but keep your end goal in mind.
Reach out to people in your industry for informational interviews.
The sooner you choose your path, the quicker you will get there.
Combine what you’re good at with what you’re passionate about and success will come.
Be confident and let your fear go.
Always position yourself right outside of your comfort zone.