From the country that brought us Ikea, Absolute Vodka and J. Lindeberg (spelling?), meet Helena Ekström. Helena is another accidental young diva on the Swedish fashion scene , who's work warranted her a place in our Interview Series. This writer-turned fashion blogger runs the successful Swedish fashion site Démode, in addition to her own personal blog, blankhelenaekstrom.blogspot.com.
With Sweden's minimalistic leaning towards fashion and its well-known inclination to conformity, a trained writer and editor's attention to detail was just what the industry needed to create bold commentary and critiques—taking the Swedish fashion industry in a brave new direction.
To follow Helena's unique perspective on the burgeoning Swedish fashion market, follow her social feeds: www.twitter.com/demode and www.facebook.com/pages/Demode
To get a deeper understanding of how Helena broke into the fashion scene (and how you can to) with nothing more than a writing degree and keen eye, check out the responses she had to some of our readers most commonly-asked questions:
How did you get your foot into the door of the fashion industry? (aka what was your first job and how did you get it?)
I was in the advertising business working as a copywriter, and started to work with fashion clients. One of my main clients was the biggest and most exclusive department store in Stockholm, Sweden, and that opened the door into the fashion industry for me. After some years I had the network and clients to start my own business as a creative, both as a copywriter, fashion writer, Editor-in-chief for a new magazine and fashion stylist.
For any of our readers not familiar with you could you explain your blog's vision and what inspired you to start it?
Yes, Sweden is well-known for it´s minimalistic fashion, and I thought we needed a product for brave and exploratory fashion. I also saw the need for a global website with a nice design, smooth navigation--on this theme I started Démode: fashion for bravehearts who have the opportunity to inspire people around the world.
Do you hold any other fashion-related positions in the industry?
I still work as a copywriter with fashion clients, but do more and more work as an artistic fashion stylist—my niche is in brave fashion expressions. I also got the opportunity to launch a new magazine called SoFo that I am currently the Editor-in-Chief of.
What type of education did it take to get you where you are today? And how has your career path progressed over the years (or how do you hope it will progress and how do you plan to get it there)?
I got at Copywriting Diploma at Berghs SoC, a well-known advertising school in Stockholm. I also studied a shorter fashion design course at FIT in New York, but I would say that is was my work over the years and my passion for brave fashion expressions that led the way to where I am now. My goal now is to work globally as an artistic fashion stylist.
If you had it to do all over again what would you do differently, change or improve?
Well, I didn’t know I wanted to work in the fashion industry; my main goal was to be a copywriter, which I did. The work in the fashion business just came to me along the way. So no I don’t think I should changed anything if I could.
Which designers and/or artists influenced you the most as a creative professional?
I can’t really name any single person; I always try to focus on what I want to do and then do it. But when I stared my blog Démode I was quite inspired by the fashion collective Andrea Crews, and today I am a fan of the the designer and artist Tata Christiane.
What is the most important skill or hard lesson you have learned while working on your fashion blog?
Sometimes you can’t explain why you do things, you just have to do them. That was the case with Démode, I didn’t really know “what’s in it for me”, but now I can see that it’s a great way to get new contacts, to show what kind of style I am in to, but also a fantastic research tool for myself and other people. My advice is just to work with things that are important for you, and maybe you will see the result in a few years.
Do you accept interns looking to get a career in fashion writing, blogging, PR or in reviewing?
Yes, I do. I am always happy to help people that are passionate about their work.
Which role(s) in the fashion industry do you think will offer the best career opportunities moving forward? eg. designer, PR, entrepreneur, etc.?
I don’t really think you can choose a career in that way. I mean I was in the advertising business, but started to fall in love in the fashion industry. After I while by just followed my heart. But I absolutely think it will help if you have the spirit of an entrepreneur.
Which skills do you consider to be most critical for a career in fashion?
It’s great to have a talent, but to gain success you also need the skill to make you visible for people and do the networking job.
What would you recommend for aspiring fashion professionals looking to break into today's fashion industry?
Try different paths into the business. For me it has been great to have several titles; I can both work as a copywriter, fashion writer, stylist and Editor-in-Chief, and that was really my way in to start my own business. Don’t be afraid to try different things! Then you always have something that keeps you busy and Motivated.
Check out more interviews at The Fashion-Schools.org Interview Series.