Four Lessons From The Life Of Fashion Pioneer Ruth Finley


A photo of Ruth Finley is placed on the bench at the Nana Judy show at New York Fashion Week. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)

“Seize your breakout opportunity” is a strategy I preach to folks who are hungry for career advancement and want to rise quickly. Be willing to put yourself on the line. Say yes to messy, burdensome assignments no one else wants. It’s how you make a name for yourself.

The Wall Street Journal obituary of Ruth Finley (1920-2018) told me that she was on to this idea and concept before I was even born!

Struggling as a young career woman in Manhattan in the early 1940s Finley was an intern at the New York Herald and helped Lord & Taylor set up displays in its department store windows.

Seeking more job security, she invented a much needed publication: She made herself the de facto scheduling chief for the fashion industry, assisting designers to make sure that their collections and other events did not conflict with those of their rivals. Finley’s calendar was an immediate hit: She often fielded as many as 200 phone calls a day and the industry gladly paid hundred of dollars to subscribe to her much sought after, one-of-a-kind publication.

Diane von Furstenberg recalled being advised in 1970 when she began showing her dresses to get herself listed in Finley’s Fashion Calendar, and called her immediately.

In the beginning, the calendar was produced on a mimeograph, and eventually it transitioned to computers, and then online in the Internet era. In 2014, Finley sold it to the Council of Fashion Designers and it’s now exclusively an online publication.

Known for diplomatically resolving thousands of scheduling conflicts, she observed a finicky quality that was pervasive in the industry:  “Most designers start their shows 30 minutes late, almost on the button,” she noted.

Lessons for the rest of us

Finley’s success story highlights several powerful truths about how to rise:

There is always opportunity: It has been said that the best way to get what you want in this world is to help someone else get what they want. She was actively looking for opportunities to better herself and sure enough, there it was. And, when she found it, she took action. What industry are you in? Do you like what you are doing there? Is there something else that you think you might be a better fit for? If so, then keep a close watch. Systems and processes can always be improved. Maybe you are just the person to do it.

Be bold: When she began this obviously much-needed endeavor, there was no Women’s Movement or anything close to a level playing field. In fact, I would guess that she met with quite a bit of resistance when she launched her own business in an age when that just wasn’t done by women. But she believed in herself and her abilities and she took action in spite of her fears and what others might have been saying.

Be willing to change: As technology changed, so did her business model. From mimeograph to the Internet! So, as you find opportunities and begin to build your business or your division, stay in touch with the latest developments. Don’t be afraid of new ideas and cutting edge ways to get things done. Learning new things should be part of your daily routine. Be proactive about it, and embrace it all. Staying ahead of your competitors requires it.

Be an inspiration: Don’t forget who’s watching you. Your children, your fellow workers, your siblings. They will be more willing to step out and step up if they see you doing it. As I read about Finley’s remarkable life I felt great admiration for her. And, it reminded me of what one person can do if they are willing to try.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)


Source link

What's Your Reaction?

Cry Cry
0
Cry
Cute Cute
0
Cute
Damn Damn
0
Damn
Dislike Dislike
0
Dislike
Like Like
0
Like
Lol Lol
0
Lol
Love Love
0
Love
Win Win
0
Win
WTF WTF
0
WTF

Comments 0

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may also like

More From: Fashion

DON'T MISS

Choose A Format
Personality quiz
Series of questions that intends to reveal something about the personality
Trivia quiz
Series of questions with right and wrong answers that intends to check knowledge
Poll
Voting to make decisions or determine opinions
Story
Formatted Text with Embeds and Visuals
List
The Classic Internet Listicles
Countdown
The Classic Internet Countdowns
Open List
Submit your own item and vote up for the best submission
Ranked List
Upvote or downvote to decide the best list item
Meme
Upload your own images to make custom memes
Video
Youtube, Vimeo or Vine Embeds
Audio
Soundcloud or Mixcloud Embeds
Image
Photo or GIF
Gif
GIF format