Fashion Photoshoots from Home

Photo courtesy of Zara.

Fashion advertisements have always captivated audiences with their lavish destination photoshoots, over-the-top sets and seemingly limitless budgets.  However, with brands now having to adapt to constantly evolving COVID-19 restrictions, these extravagantly orchestrated photoshoots appear to have vanished.  Marketing budgets have been cut as many stores continue to remain closed and customers spend less.  The financial repercussions of COVID-19 on the fashion industry is becoming increasingly evident with many fearing the worst is yet to be seen.  Nevertheless, fashion brands such as Aritzia and Zara are persevering in their attempts to overcome the negative impact of COVID on marketing by photographing their models at home while simultaneously highlighting their newest product arrivals and staying relatable to customers who are also confined to their living spaces.

According to Refinery 29, Zara sent their latest collections to model’s homes so that they could be styled and photographed off-site and in accordance with social distancing guidelines.  With models living all over the world, the images were still beautifully diverse and well curated.  Aritzia also photographed their models at home for their digital campaign but took it one step further by announcing a call-to-action asking their customers to photograph themselves at home wearing Aritzia’s latest arrivals.  Customers and employees were asked to use the hashtag #ArtiziaAtHome when uploading their photos to Instagram. The response was amazing and also gave the audience an opportunity to see how other shoppers styled their purchases.

Historically, fashion has always been able to adjust and prevail in the face of social and economic uncertainty.   Evidently, this pandemic will be no different.


Huber, Eliza. “Zara Models Shot The Latest Campaign In Their Own Homes.”, Refinery 29, Apr 8, 2020. Accessed 3 June 2020.

Series Three: LinkedIn Tips

Professor Anna Cappuccitti at the Dex showroom with students in the Fashion Business and Fashion Business Management programs.

LinkedIn always seemed to me like this daunting monster of a platform. I confess that I had an account for about nine years before posting any professional content besides my profile photo and my name.

When I first created my LinkedIn account, I was concerned about posting any of my resume details because I was afraid that my employer at the time would stumble upon it and think (incorrectly) that I was actively looking for another job.  I did not fully understand all of the benefits of having an account and that there was more to it than just job searching. In Series Three: LinkedIn, I will share five tips for creating a strong LinkedIn account, whether you are looking for a job or you simply want to network with like-minded individuals in your field.

  1. Select the Appropriate Profile Photo

Including a professional profile photo is important as it allows your “connections” to put a face to your name and get a better sense of who you are.  Use a current, tightly cropped headshot of yourself in business attire.  You are dressing for success and you want your photo to make a professional first impression on potential employers and recruiters.  

2. List Your Core Skills

Whether you are a student or a member of the work-force, as long as you continue to learn, your list of hard skills will also grow and evolve.  For this reason, I recommend updating your skills list at least once a year so that your most current and developed skills are always adequately represented in your profile to potential employers and recruiters.   I suggest keeping your list to 3 to 5 core skills. You can then ask for further endorsement of these skills from your connections.

3. LinkedIn Feed

Your LinkedIn feed should highlight news, stories, and other information relevant to your field and give your connections the opportunity to comment and get involved with current industry topics that matter to you.  Sharing content in your feed allows your connections to see what interests you and can help set you apart from other profiles.  Look for news articles, case studies, and the latest research from reputable sources to share.

4. Commenting

Increase engagement through commenting on other people’s feeds and the news they share.  Write something thoughtful that relates to what others have posted, whether it be a congratulatory message to one of your connections for starting a new job or receiving a promotion, or commenting on a case study they have shared.  Make sure you are clear, concise, and keep the comments constructive.  I also suggest commenting on the feed of someone you admire professionally.  The most important part of engagement is to make meaningful connections with other people in your industry.

5. Follow Industry Leaders

Industry leaders are the thought leaders of your field of interest.  They are actively engaged in advancements within their industry and are recognized by others for how they contributed to its evolution.  These are well-connected, influential people with a substantial amount of industry experience and insight.  You can re-share relevant content these leaders have posted for your own connections to see.

Join me next week when I will be posting Series Four: Job Search Tips.

Until then, take care.


Alumni Spotlight: Nicole Ralph

Photo credit: Nicole Ralph

Full name: Nicole Ralph

Program:  Esthetics & Spa Therapies

Grad Year: 2020

Current Position: Esthetician

What is your favourite Seneca memory?

My first time participating in the Seneca Open House.

If you could give one piece of advice to a student completing the same program as you, what would it be?

Ask for help when you need it. There isn’t one professor I’ve had whom I was afraid to ask for help about course material and/or career guidance. They all want to see you succeed in school and beyond.

How has your career evolved?

I’ve discovered what area of the industry I have a true passion for and I know exactly what career I want to work towards outside of the spa environment.  

How did your Seneca program help you get to where you are now/your current career?  

The different opportunities to participate in off/on campus events exposed me to different people/networking opportunities and allowed me to discuss my passion for skincare. Most importantly, the training and guidance I received from professors gave me the confidence to apply to many spas I initially thought were “out of my league”.

Do you have any other thoughts or memories you would like to share?

Whether you are a student right out of high school or a mature student like I was, I highly recommend volunteering to be part of the SMILE program. You get to meet and learn about so many different people.  Take advantage of the fitness center and the ice arena too. Both are great places to relieve any stress especially during midterms/finals!

Series Two: Cover Letter Tips

Image from Adobe Spark

A cover letter is an important complementary support document that should always accompany your resume when applying for employment.  It represents the very first impression you will make on a potential employer and should effectively and persuasively demonstrate who you are, your knowledge of the company you hope to work for and how your unique set of skills and accomplishments would make you the best fit for the role you are applying for.

In this post, I will be sharing five tips for creating the foundation of your cover letter that will be just as important as your resume. Cover letters should be revised and tailored to each new job you apply for.

  1. Formatting

Your cover letter should be only one page long. Be sure to use the same letter head, font and font size you used when creating your resume. The font should be simple and easy to read. Your cover letter should be about three to four paragraphs in length.

2. Address the appropriate person

Find out the name of the hiring manager so that you can address the correct person when writing your cover letter. This will show that you have done your research and set you apart from other applicants.  Try looking for this information on the company website or directory, if there is one, or call up the company and ask for the name of the hiring manager.

3. Do your research

When writing your cover letter, be sure to research the company you are applying to work for. Look up the company online and follow their social media platforms. This can provide you with some additional information about the company that you might not have been able to get from simply looking at the job posting. Include in your letter why you want to work for the company and reference your research. If you don’t know anything about the company, it will be difficult to convince an employer why you want to work for them and why they should hire you.

4. Your experience

In this section of your cover letter, you will explain why your education, work experience, and volunteer work make you a strong candidate for the position. Here, you can mention your hard and soft skills. For example, I would advise highlighting your experience with video conferencing and working virtually with supervisors and team members. During these unprecedented times, I am sure you have gained a wealth of knowledge in these areas from either working or studying from home.  These new skills will speak to your ability to be flexible and adapt to new and challenging work environments.

5. Editing

Your cover letter should be edited by a friend or mentor with strong proof-reading skills. I recommend using the same proof-reader that edited your resume. They will be able to refer back to your resume and make educated, objective suggestions regarding use of specific skills or experience you might have failed to mention in your cover letter.

Join me next week when I will be posting Series Three: LinkedIn.

Until then, take care.


International Fashion Weeks Going Virtual

In March 2020, Shanghai Fashion Week presented the world’s first completely virtual fashion week.  The show was hosted by Tmall, a platform under the Alibaba Group umbrella.  Amid newly established social restrictions all over the globe due to growing concerns over COVID-19, the fashion industry had to adapt quickly in order to find new and innovative ways of presenting their latest collections.  This digital trend quickly caught fire and by April 2020, Moscow Fashion Week had also presented collections online with other nations following suit shortly thereafter.  

Fashion Designer: David Ezomoh of Zalahari, Model: Aaron McQuaid

The British Fashion Council (CNMI) has now announced that London Fashion Week will combine their men’s and women’s fashion shows online.  The virtual fashion show will be non-gendered and showcased in June 2020.

Following London Fashion Week, France’s Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode and Italy’s Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana will also present digital fashion weeks.  Paris Fashion Week will showcase haute couture collections online from July 6 to 8, 2020.  Milan Fashion Week will be presented from July 14 to 17, 2020. To watch the “Milano Digital Fashion Week – July Issue”, visit website and follow along on their social media platforms.  Videos and interviews with designers will be published online in addition to the digital collections.

Well before the pandemic, Helsinki Fashion Week had already announced that they would be going digital in July and partnering with tech company, Normative. The choice was initially made to avoid the impact of fashion week on the environment due to travel. The virtual shows are scheduled to run from July 27 to August 1, 2020.

Although COVID-19 restrictions served as the initial catalyst for the majority of transitions to digital fashion weeks around the world in 2020, it could be said that a latent “new norm” has been created.  This opened up a dialogue between the typical gender-based division of fashion week collections and more inclusive, non gender based fashion events.   A digital show can also generate a larger, more diverse audience as it includes individuals who, in the past, may not have had the ability to physically view the collections in real-time.


Bougro, Par Augustin. “How Will Fashion Houses Present Their Collections After the Confinement.” Vogue, 29 May. 2020, Accessed 29 May 2020.

Chou, Christine. “What Shanghai’s First Digital Fashion Week Meant For Brands and Designers.” Alizila, 6 Apr. 2020,,Alibaba%20Group’s%20e%2Dcommerce%20platform. Accessed 27 May 2020.

Marriott, Hannah. “Fashion Meets Fortnite: 3D Clothes and Digital Catwalks.” The Guardian, 10 Apr. 2020,  Accessed 29 May 2020.

Series One: Resume Writing Tips

I can’t tell you how many different resumes I have written and updated throughout my working life.  My skills, education, and experience are fluid and ever-evolving such that I am constantly having to make updates and revisions in order to keep my professional profile as current as possible. 

There are a number of great online resources that provide tips on resume writing.  If you don’t already have a resume and are worried about proper formatting or if you just want to update an existing resume, some of these sites also offer free downloadable templates you can use as a guide.

The five tips outlined below should set the foundation of your initial, basic resume.  Use this as a template and add or subtract from the details you share based on the job you are applying for. 

Fashion Business/Fashion Business Management students at the Dex showroom with Coordinator Anna Cappuccitti.
  1. Create a basic resume 

A basic resume is your foundation piece to build upon once you begin applying for jobs.  This should include clear contact information so that you can be easily reached by potential employers.  I would suggest creating a professional email address that consists of some combination of your first and last name (eg., not and include your preferred phone number (likely your mobile number).  

Make a note to set up a professional voicemail message that states your name and a brief message for your callers.  This is the first time the hiring manager will hear your voice, so you will want it to sound pleasant, calm and clear.  I suggest preparing your voicemail greeting by writing out a brief script of what you want to say before recording to avoid forgetting important information and having to re-record multiple times.

Your basic resume should also include your hard and soft skills (see last week’s post on self-assessment), your job history and education in chronological order, starting from most recent.

2. Use easy-to-read font

I suggest using Arial font in size 12pt. If you absolutely have to, you can go as small as 10.5pt, but no smaller. Make sure your font is clean, simple, and most importantly, easy to read. I would stay away from creative font styles unless you are aware of the company culture and confident it would be acceptable.   Otherwise, keep it simple and stick to Arial.

3. Proof read and edit your resume

The biggest distractions for employers reading resumes are spelling and grammar mistakes.  A hiring manager is not likely to continue reading a resume that contains typos and other errors.  They are looking for your ability to communicate strongly and effectively as this is a skill needed for most jobs.  Always make sure to re-read your resume with a critical eye.  I always ask a friend with impeccable editing skills to read my resume and cover letters before sending to any prospective employers. 

4. Resume length

Keep your resume 1-2 pages in length.  Some hiring managers receive hundreds of resumes for a single job and if your resume is too long, it may get dismissed as too convoluted or time-consuming to read thoroughly.  You need to sufficiently showcase your skills, education, achievements, and current and previous work experience that are relevant to the job posting requirements in a way that is clear, concise and avoids confusing or unnecessary jargon.

Note: Once you begin applying directly to job postings, you should customize your resume and cover letter to each application.  I suggest saving the job posting along with your custom resume and cover letter in a folder for safe keeping.  It can take weeks or even months to receive a response from a potential employer and you will want to be able to reference and refamiliarize yourself with the posting and files you originally sent to the hiring manager in the event they reach out to you. 

5. Highlight your achievements

This is your time to shine.  List all of your achievements!  Give yourself credit for all the hard work you have done to get where you are today.  Now is not the time to be humble.  In fact, I encourage you to boast.  Whether you’ve been recognized for academic excellence, volunteering or extracurricular activities, acknowledgement of your dedication and achievements is an indication to a hiring manager that you are a motivated individual who works hard and can rise to any occasion.

Join me next week when I will be posting Series Two: Cover Letter Tips.

Until then, take care.


Introduction to the 8-part Series – Personal Assessment

The objective of this 8-part series is to provide you with some key steps that you can take to help you create and establish your profile as a professional in your field and start your career by finding a job. Over the next 8 weeks, I will be sharing tips on various career-building topics ranging from creating a strong cover letter, resume and LinkedIn profile, to navigating job searches, preparing for and following up an interview, building professional social media accounts, networking and building engagement in your industry.

Personal Assessment

Personal assessment is an important first step you need to take before you even begin writing your resume. This is the time to consider which career path you would like to take within your designated field. It also gives you a better idea of the types of workplace environments that might suit you.

Let’s get started!

Clear your mind and reflect on what area of study, within your college program, you enjoyed most or in which you performed best.  If this can be narrowed down to a specific course, what was the focus of that course?  If you worked with an industry partner while studying, what did you do that brought you the most satisfaction? 

After you have done this, also ask yourself which courses, if any, you had some difficulty with and why?  Answering this question will allow you to identify any weaknesses within your acquired skill set and reflect on how to improve upon them.

Begin Brainstorming

I want you to begin brainstorming your skill set and reflect on times you were recognized for your achievements, values, and interests.

There are two kinds of skill sets: hard skills and soft skills.

Hard skills are knowledge and expertise you have gained through your education and any additional forms of technical training. These skills are measurable.

Soft skills are skills that you have gained through life experience, such as the way in which you communicate; your interpersonal skills. These skills are often transferable to many different careers. 


What awards or special recognition have you received?

Why were those awards given to you?

How did your hard and soft skills help you to achieve this recognition?


Values are important to your career because they help describe the type of person you are.  They can be a key indicator of behaviour and how you might respond to different situations in the workplace.  For example, if you value trust, you are likely someone that would be able to keep information confidential.

Describe your character.  What type of personality do you have?

What are your values?

Are you a “people person”?

What type of attitude do you have? For example, do you typically look at things in a positive way, a negative way etc?  Are you typically an optimist or a pessimist? 

How do you react in stressful or challenging situations?


Interests are made up of anything and everything you enjoy doing or want to learn about.  Interests can be broad, such as having a general interest in reading or music, or they can be more developed hobbies such as knitting or painting. Identifying what your interests are also has the added benefit of helping you figure out what you are not interested in.  Narrowing down your interests will help you decide what to focus on and develop going forward.

Your task is to review the questions above and answer them. Having a better understanding of who you are and what you enjoy are crucial to your job search.

Join me next week when I will be posting Series One: Resume Tips.

Until then, take care.


Series Three: Setting Goals

Now that you have completed Series One: Finding Happiness During Uncertain Times and Series Two: Creating Routines, welcome to the final series: Setting Goals!  Setting goals is an important tool, not only to help you stay focused, but to inspire and motivate you to pursue your dreams and put yourself on the path to achieving them. 

Designed by a Fashion Arts student

Exercise One:  Make a list

As you may have noticed, I love making lists, but making a list of goals is always especially fun and exciting because it gives me something to work towards!  I like to start by writing out a list of 10 goals.  These goals could be any combination of things I want to accomplish.  Some could be modest, short-term goals such as successfully completing a course, while others could be big and outrageous, long-term goals such as designing and planning a Grammy after-party for Beyoncé. Once I have my list of 10 goals, I will select one that I want to start working on and map it out. 

Now, you try it!

Exercise Two:  Goal Mapping

Once you have your list of 10 goals, grab another piece of paper and write that goal at the top, big and bold.   Start mapping out your goal by answering the following questions: 

GOAL MAP: Career in Law

  1. What is your goal? e.g. To be admitted into a graduate law program.
  2. Why this goal is important to you? e.g.  Becoming a lawyer is my dream career.
  3. What is your deadline to accomplish this goal? e.g. September 2021
  4. What are the three action steps you must take to complete your goal?

e.g. a. Finish undergraduate degree with a 3.7 G.P.A.

       b. Earn a 160 LSAT score.

       c. Apply.

5. What is your deadline for completing each of the three action steps?

Be as specific as possible when answering the questions above. You want to have a clear idea of what your goal is and how you plan on achieving it.  Once you have established your deadline, you can break down your action steps even further if need be and give those smaller tasks additional due dates.  Refer back to last week’s series: Creating a Routine to help you stay on track and don’t get discouraged if your goal map needs revising along the way.  This is a normal process and as you delve deeper into the development stages of your goals, things often change course and sometimes for the better.  The most important thing is to keep an open mind and embrace new paths this journey may take you on.

Photo credit: Adobe Spark

It is completely up to you to decide if you prefer to share your goals with others or keep them to yourself, but if you know that you sometimes have a hard time staying on track, try telling a close friend or family member about them.  This can help keep you accountable to your goals and motivated to succeed.  

Best of luck!


Series Two: Creating a Routine

Photo credit: Adobe Spark

Finding a routine can be key when attempting to achieve some kind of normalcy in your day-to-day life.  It can help you feel in control by adding some structure to your day and making sure you are devoting enough time to yourself and your loved ones.  My favorite part of creating a routine is the organization involved.  It takes planning and flexibility to adapt to changing schedules and deadlines. 

Time allotted for work schedule:

When I build my routine, I look at my calendar and begin by plugging in any regular or fixed obligations, such as my work schedule.  I will enter my start time, end time, and lunch break. Since these events take up the most significant part of my time during the week, I block them in my calendar first.

Make a list of priorities for the week:

Prioritizing tasks week-to-week allows me to stay focused and more effectively pace exciting projects, while keeping me from procrastinating others.  I write this list at the beginning of the week (my week begins on Sundays) and include five of the most important tasks I need to complete.  Once I have narrowed down my five top priorities, I estimate how long each task should take to complete and tentatively plug them in to my calendar. 

Move your body for 30 minutes a day:

Once my schedule is prioritized, I can begin filling in the rest of my calendar for the week.  For me, this means deciding when I am going to spend time exercising!  I aim to move my body for at least 30 minutes a day.  Spending some time walking outside (remember social distancing!) while enjoying the sunshine and nicer weather always makes me feel better.  I also like to take advantage of a number of strength training, yoga, and pilates classes that instructors are offering for free through their Instagram accounts.  If you are interested in knowing which free accounts I use, please send me a message and I will get back to you with the details. Exercising each day, even for a short time, acts as an instant mood booster. 

Refer to your happiness list:

Last week I posted Series One called Finding Happiness During Times of Uncertainty and Looking Forward to the Future.  In the blog post, I discussed an exercise that concentrated on listing ten things that currently make me happy.  When creating my routine, I refer back to that exercise and review my happiness list.  I schedule time in my calendar to do one of my happiness activities each day of the week. 

Sleep schedule:

We know that getting enough sleep per night is beneficial to both our health and our productivity. Making sure we go to bed and wake up at the same time every day may seem boring and predictable, but since the average adult generally needs between 7 and 9 hours of sleep out of 24, it becomes an important consideration when planning our daily routines.  

Spend time reflecting on your day:

Reflection is a way to deconstruct the past and learn from our experiences.  I always set aside some time each evening to reflect on what happened during my day.  Is there a way I can celebrate that moment? On the other hand, was it something I wish had gone differently and could the outcome have been affected if I had planned my routine another way?

Okay, your turn!  

Build a routine that works for you.  Create weekly goals for yourself, prioritize them and find ways to incorporate the things that make you happy. 

Next week, I will post Series Three where I am going to share how to map out your goals.

Until then, take care.


Series One: Finding Happiness During Times of Uncertainty and Looking Forward to the Future

We are living in a strange and uncertain time. Under normal circumstances, I would not write a blog post that is this personal.  However, as we all sit at home trying to adjust to this “new” normal, I thought I would take this moment to share some of the things that are helping me get through my day-to-day life in isolation with the hope that it might offer even a few of you, some comfort food for thought.

To start, I have acknowledged and come to terms with the idea that it is okay to not be okay. Experiencing a million different emotions is something I am contending with on a daily basis. If you are feeling anything similar, just know that you are not alone.  Everyone’s situation might be different, but we are ultimately in this together and there are things we can do to help one another along the way.  

One exercise that I have found helpful is to write a list of ten things that currently bring me happiness. These are things that I do for myself, that make my day a little brighter and bring me comfort.  We all have different coping mechanisms, and what makes you happy and brings you joy is unique to you.  These are mine:

Stephanie’s Happiness List While Social Distancing During a Pandemic:

  1. Drinking my morning coffee. I enjoy the flavour and scent of a freshly brewed cup.
  2. Having a short dialogue with my tabby cat, Bacon. He is vocal and will respond with meowing and cooing sounds to my morning interrogation: “How are you, Bacon? Did you enjoy your catnip?”.
  3. Watering my plants; I have many and love seeing them grow.
  4. Taking a long bath.
  5. Reading.  I read every night. I am currently reading  For Small Creatures Such as We, by Sasha Sagan.
  6. Drawing.  I enjoy drawing still life of florals.
  7. Going for a walk in my neighbourhood (while social distancing!).
  8. Lighting candles; the scent and flickering flame is relaxing.
  9. FaceTiming my friends and family.
  10. Yoga.  I have been practicing Kundalini and restorative yoga.
This is “high fashion” Bacon the cat.
Photo credit: Stephanie Valadao

Now, you try it.  Take a few minutes to find yourself a quiet space in your home, grab a piece of paper, pen and your favourite warm beverage.  Spend the next ten minutes making a list of ten things that bring you happiness; the things that currently bring you joy.  Tape your list up somewhere you will see it every day and make time between your daily tasks for one or more of those things.

One of my many plants.
Photo credit: Stephanie Valadao
For Small Creatures Such as We, by Sasha Sagan.
Photo credit: Stephanie Valadao

Through all of this and no matter how I’m feeling, I remain hopeful for the future.  Writing down what I plan on doing once the pandemic is over has also helped me stay positive.  This brings me to my second happiness exercise; a future happiness list:

Stephanie’s Future Happiness List:

  1. Hugging my family.
  2. Enjoying a wonderful meal with friends at a new restaurant.
  3. Being back at work and sharing my office space with my co-worker, Ginny.
  4. Swimming at an outdoor public pool.
  5. Watching a live sporting event.
  6. Travelling to South America (destination yet to be determined).
  7. Having a picnic.
  8. Exploring the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Royal Ontario Museum.
  9. Seeing a movie.  I like comedies.
  10. Grocery shopping at St. Lawrence Market on a Saturday morning.

Okay, your turn. Take some time to list the ten things that you will look forward to doing once the pandemic is over. Once you are done hang your list somewhere you will see it often and be reminded that you will get to enjoy these experiences in the near future. This is a great list to keep building on when you have new ideas! Refer back to it whenever you feel you need to.

Next week, I will post Series Two where I am going to share tips on how to build a daily routine that works for you.

Until then, stay safe and be kind to yourself.

Take care,