Myriam Laroche is Founder and President of Eco Fashion Week; with more than twenty-two years of experience in the apparel & fashion industry as a head buyer, creative director, personal shopper, and fashion & beauty journalist. She launched Eco Fashion Week (EFW) which wrapped-up its tenth season in April 2016. Since 2014, EFW and the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) have been partners to present the Style in Film Series, which connects the powerful artistic expressions of style/fashion with cinema. She is currently mentoring a Product Development Class focussed on circular economy at Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business.

Myriam is an interesting and wonderful woman. If you’ve ever been around her, you’ll find yourself wanting to be her friend. She has that appeal; she’s stylish, smart, and well, she’s just darn cool. We were lucky enough to co-host a luncheon and think-tank event with Myriam and during Eco Fashion Week this year, titled “Second-hand is my first choice,” which included a panel discussion moderated by Fiona Forbes.

Second hand is my first choice

We wanted to get to know a little bit more about how Myriam networks, and how she has managed to make some excellent connections here in Vancouver, so we asked her a few questions.

Q: How and where did you form your most significant contacts? How have these changed over time?

My most significant contacts have come from connections that were already in place. When you are introduced to someone you want to meet by a mutual friend or colleague, it changes everything. You have a reference. But to have those personal introductions, you have to deliver, show how serious you are, be patient and be persistent. Don’t let yourself be discouraged by a “NO”. Timing is everything!

Q: What does networking look like in your world? What are some of your top tips for successfully networking in this city?

Tip #1: Learn to differentiate between the “talkers” and the “walkers”. Everybody in Vancouver is here to build something and most of them talk an amazing talk. But when it’s time to “walk the walk”, they do not deliver…which can be time consuming. Be careful with too much name dropping, exaggerated titles, and over the top experience. Also, “investigate” (without going overboard) the people you want to work with.

Tip #2: Find the decision makers. They are the ones you want to deal with. Most of my work for Eco Fashion Week is to develop partnership and sponsorship. At first, I was dealing with coordinators and managers, but there was only so much they could do. They had to talk to their superiors, so your story gets passed through a filter and might not get the same notice.

Q: What advice do you have for the Vancouver woman who is just starting out in her career or considering a leap to a new career?

#1: Make sure you are already in love with your new career or figure it out quickly. There are always less-motivating aspects in any career, but you should definitely be passionate about it. If you are doing it only for the money, it will catch up to you one way or the other.

#2: Take care of yourself physically and mentally. No excuses. Success is not based on the quantity of hours you put in anymore, but on the quality of hours you give to your career.

#3: Have mentors to whom you can reach out when the dark side is taking over. People who have been through what you are going through.

#4: Trust your gut. Be kind. Be grateful. And listen more than you talk. (I am still figuring out that one!)

Myriam brings up some excellent points, particularly in finding the decision makers in a company. Whether it is for a partnership or sponsorship like in her case, or say, if you’re looking for a new job, you’re going to want to find out who the hiring manager is. Doing a little digging to reach out and connect with the right person can make all the difference.

And of course, having a mentor to reach out to when things get tough can help determine your success, or whether you are actually going to follow through on that new career.

If you’re looking for a  mentor, and don’t know where to start–start here! Sign up for Elletourage, and get connected with peers or a mentor. There is a whole network of women waiting here for you.

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Photo in header image: Andrew Querner