A Day in the Life of a Designer Coordinator

strut on the catwalk

What an exciting experience!  Ottawa Fashion Week (OFW) was such a positive opportunity; I still can’t realize it at the moment. Besides the craziness of it, I met the most incredible and interesting people at this event. The fact that I felt withdrawal before the weekend even ended shows how much I enjoyed it!

I first started to work for OFW in July 2013 as an Enrolment Executive.  Essentially, my job was to recruit designers for the fall through phone calls, emails, tweets, Facebook messages, and the like.  I was only suppose to work until the end of August, but my supervisors liked my enthusiasm that they asked me if was interested in filling another position.  ‘’Sure!’’ I said.  Through meetings I had heard of one position in particular that seemed perfect for me.   I asked my boss if I could be a designer coordinator.   And just like that, I got the job!  Later on, people who’ve been working for OFW for several seasons told me it was unusual for someone to get that kind of job on their first season, especially with no experience.  I admit I didn’t have the experience, but my instinct sure did help a lot, because I had no idea what I was getting into.

A designer coordinator is the principal link between the designer and OFW.  I’m in charge of collecting all the information from the designer (music, number of looks, models, etc.); helping with model casting (keep track of ‘’Maybe’’ models and ‘’Yes’’ models) and fittings; and coordinating rehearsals for the models and make sure the line-up is perfectly followed (line-up: models and looks in a specific order). To top it off,  I had to this for multiple designers!  It’s pretty crazy when I think about it now, but I love what I do there and when you’re passionate about something you tend to overlook the bad things, then you focus on the rest.

My first show was OK.  We had a moment that I like to recall as the ‘’sinking ship’’ moment.  The middle of the line-up got wrong because the clothes changes were too quick, and I was left with naked models to go on the runway.   Fortunately, it didn’t happen.  The designer was backstage and made a new line-up with what was left to go and the attendees loved it.   My second show, however, was perfect.  I only kidnapped 7 interns to be in charge of a specific model for a specific change.  Of course there were plenty of better moments, but the crazy ones tend to be engraved in a good way in your memory.

Although I can say that my summer job taught me a lot, you definitely need developed skills for this kind of job.  I think the most important characteristics are leadership and good instincts. To be a leader, you need to be aware of what’s going on through communication (you can’t overlook your emails and texts for a few minutes).  But then again, if you know what’s happening, you shouldn’t have any problems knowing what to do. When I say to be aware, it’s because there are a lot of changes in that industry.  What we said last week is like last year.

Volunteering! To be honest I think the gain is so worth the hard work.  Unlike a paycheck, the experience from OFW will follow me all my life.  I love fashion and I feel so privileged to be able to do something like it.  There is so much that I’ve learned about the industry that I didn’t know.  It is also a great way to network.  I’ve met a lot of important people from inside and outside the industry.   Also, because of this job I’m working on so many new projects now and I almost forget that I’m a student.

Overall, it was amazing being part of OFW’s 10th season.  My first season was filled with good laughs and new friends.  I will surely return next season, better prepared and knowing what to expect! If you are interested to volunteer with us, just follow our Facebook page and Twitter and keep an eye out for volunteer applications in the next few weeks.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ottawafashionweek?ref=br_tf

Twitter: https://twitter.com/OFW_LIVE

By: Julien Boissonnault

julien boissonault

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Networking Event Tips 101

Written by: Bryant McNamara

Look, we all aren’t social butterflies, I understand that. I myself cannot for the life of me walk confidently into EVERY situation and start talking to every person who looks interesting. Let’s face it, some situations can be intimidating.

In the face of intimidation however, there are some simple steps that I’ve used to help me start breaking the ice and make networking worth my time.


  1. Networking events are intimidating – not the people.
  2. Don’t always ask generic questions, people will be impressed if you can STAND OUT and ask them an original question that really makes them take themselves off of autopilot. For example, ask about what the person does for fun, not what they do for work (this usually comes after the casual work conversation).
  3. Don’t rush – take your time and listen.
  4. Remember names of those you talk to. Nothing says “I’m paying attention” like being able to recount the person’s name without looking at their nametag, or remembering specific parts of the conversation.
  5. Obvious stuff: hand shakes, smiles, eye contact. No cell phone, or have it on silent!

For those who like acronyms, here is one for the basicb1fbe170b1ab2aa84d9fc7063f6ada72s you should remember, SMILE!

S – Silent cell phone
M – Make eye contact
I – Identify yourself
L – Learn their name
E – Enjoy the conversation

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