Larissa Lima is a Sao Paulo native living in New York City whose humble beginnings as a retail assistant kick started a successful career in fashion journalism.
Now a freelance writer forging new connections and expanding her portfolio, Larissa believes a curious spirit is key to any career adventure.
Read on for killer advice on career plot twists, transitioning from in-house to freelance and what it’s like to work in the glamorous world of fashion!
Larissa, you’ve come into contact with some pretty impressive people during your time in fashion. Who has been your favourite person to interview so far?
Definitely former Victoria Secret Angel Alessandra Ambrosio and the Brazilian beauty expert Julia Petit! I also really loved getting to cover Sao Paulo fashion weeks which are so much fun.
Jobs in the fashion industry are notoriously competitive. How did you first get your start?
So much of my career has been about being in the right place at the right time. And saying a big, fat YES to opportunities that came my way.
Instead of having a solid step-by-step plan I’ve focused on pursuing things that interest me. Getting my first start in fashion is the perfect example.
When I turned 16 I began working as a stock associate inside a luxury fashion store. It sold brands like Prada, Valentino, Marc Jacobs and more. It was my very first job, my first brush with fashion and it was love at first sight.
Not too long into working there I heard that the famous Brazilian jewellery designer Ana Khouri was looking for an assistant.
She sold her collection in store and as soon as I heard I applied and landed the job! Working for Ana introduced me to semi-fine jewellery and I spent the following three years working in the jewellery space.
We LOVE a career plot twist! So how did you make the transition from jewellery into fashion writing?
While I was working in the jewellery space I was also studying fashion at college. I was passionate about writing from a young age and after my first year I began taking lots of fashion journalism courses and graduated with a degree in Fashion Business.
Studying fashion and fashion journalism combined both my interests. It really set me up with the core skills to go out and start writing in the industry professionally.
My first writing job was at one of Brazil’s biggest fashion PR and Communication Agencies call MktMix. While I was there I worked specifically for the giant fast-fashion label C&A.
I then had another unexpected but valuable career move. I said YES to an opportunity with the well-known B2B marketing agency called The Marketing Store. It was a temporary side-step out of fashion and helped me hone my skills in promotion and marketing strategy.
It gave me a fresh perspective and set me up well for when I got back into the industry in my next job working as a fashion writer with Dafiti Brazil.
Dafiti is South America’s largest fashion e-commerce store and it was working there that doors really began opening for me. Dafiti gave me access to a whole range of influential people to interview and write about.
Since your move to the States in 2016, you’ve transitioned into freelance writing. Considering you spent the first part of your career working in-house, what has the transition been like for you?
From my perspective, the main pro of freelance is making my own schedule. I have more time to do personal things during the weekdays and definitely more time to travel.
From a professional perspective, I have more freedom to choose which projects I will take on. Nowadays I can let my creativity flow without “approval” from a boss.
I’ve continued to write for Brazilian publications. And I also develop and edit content in all types of industries outside of fashion too.
Freelancing has given me the freedom and space to expand my portfolio. I’ve also embraced other subjects I love as well like poetry and creative nonfiction writing.
The main con is financial instability. Payments come on an irregular basis and there are no benefits like health insurance!
And I can’t forget to mention distractions! Keeping focused at home can be challenging sometimes.
What is the one thing you think young working women need to talk about more?
Self-confidence for sure! It’s completely normal to doubt your potential and talent. It helps to remember that all of us still do it. Plenty of other women in all stages of their careers have felt exactly the same way. And some are probably still going through it!
What are your career highlights to date?
Having the opportunity to work on projects like the “C&A Collection”, which developed exclusive items in partnership with renowned designers, brands and celebrities like Gisele Bundchen, Anne Fontaine, and Rita Ora.
If you could go back in time to high school and give yourself advice, what would you say?
I’d say never let people put you down because you are bigger than any opinion. We have our whole life to show off our potential and adjust and adapt our plans. Believe in yourself and keep studying hard!
What is the biggest career challenge you’ve had to overcome?
While I was working for Marketing Store Agency, my boss left and it took the business quite a while to replace her.
I basically took charge of all of our outgoing projects (even though I had only been there for four months!).
It was a really overwhelming experience but I figured it all out and got the work done. It gave me the opportunity to demonstrate how well I could perform. And it left me feeling really proud of what I’d achieved!
Do you have any work-related mentors?
Although they don’t know (lol), I have two mentors. The writer Anne Lamott who is author of the bestselling book “Bird by Bird”. And Haley Nahman who is deputy editor of Man Repeller. I’ve learned so much from them both.
How have you built professional connections and networks in your industry?
I’m the kind of person who is always willing to help others beyond the work environment.
I’ve found that simply being nice and trying to help is so important in building meaningful connections and work friendships.
It’s something that my colleagues recognise me for and it makes me so much more comfortable asking for help or advice when I really need it. It’s worth it!
And lastly, any final words of advice you’d like to share? 🙂
Invest in what you know. And if there’s something you want to know more about – go and learn it! The more you know, the more confident you will become in your own skills and talents.
Success – whatever it means to you – is a process and it does not happen overnight. I say it out loud every day to myself!
And last, but not least, remember to trust in your gut (aka your intuition). It will take you where need to go and give you the best advice that you could ever ask for.
Thank you to Larissa Lima for sitting down with us for our latest Grapevine Club Career Chat! For more Career Interviews you can head over here.