Finding a Path From Fashion to Technology

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in fashion marketing from LIM College in 2018 and beginning his career with marketing roles at Greats and Ralph Lauren, Brandon Smithwrick has taken his skills and experience to translate into content marketing in the technology space.

Currently the content lead at the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, Smithwrick develops and executes the strategic vision for Kickstarter’s social media, editorial blog, partnerships and other media ventures. His previous roles include serving as head of content at music creator startup Songfinch and head of the content team at Squarespace. Here, Smithwrick describes his career path, his mentorship and the challenges he faced.

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WWD: How would you describe your career?

Brandon Smithwrick: I am pursuing a career that combines my interests in fashion, technology, music and finance, with content and marketing as the common thread. I believe that my career path is unusual and uncommon, as it is not common to transition from the fashion industry to the technology industry, let alone explore other creative fields along the way. However, I feel that my many interests have played a significant role in my success, allowing me to adapt to any in-house brand I work with and effectively apply my strategic expertise.

WWD: What have been some of the challenges you have faced in your career?

BS: When I first started my career, I had a mentor who suggested that I specialize in one area because I was interested in styling, creative direction and digital marketing. Despite this advice, I pursued digital marketing for my corporate jobs but kept my creative passion for my side projects.

Brandon SmithwrickBrandon Smithwrick

Brandon Smithwrick

One of my biggest challenges as a fashion marketer was the transition to technology. For fashion, I knew how to market collections, seasonal sales and the like. However, with technology, I had to market something intangible that consumers couldn’t touch or try. I had to demonstrate value through technology and SaaS focused marketing tactics, which was a new approach for me. Once I got used to it, this method served me very well.

WWD: How did you go from fashion to your current industry?

BS: When I moved into my new role, I made a conscious effort to focus on my transferable skills. My previous experience in social media marketing at companies such as Greats and Ralph Lauren was very helpful. I was able to apply the lessons I learned from working with a globally recognized brand like Ralph Lauren to my work at Squarespace. At Squarespace, I worked on social media strategy and marketing, and found the insights I gained from my previous experiences to be invaluable. In particular, working with a globally recognized brand like Ralph Lauren helped me understand the nuances of building a brand and leveraging social media to drive awareness and engagement.

WWD: How did your college coursework and internships help guide your career decisions?

BS: At LIM, courses such as management and marketing played a significant role in helping me learn how to navigate the workplace. I also enjoyed my professional development classes, where I was able to revise and finish my résumé, because an impressive resume can help you get your foot in the door. My first internship led to my first full-time role, which provided me with a wealth of expertise and prepared me for career success.

WWD: Is there a professional achievement that you are proud of?

BS: I am extremely proud of my recent accomplishments and being named to the Forbes “30 Under 30” list in marketing and advertising. I’m equally proud to mentor a number of young professionals who share my background as a creative marketer, winning a Webby award for my work at Squarespace and being a marketing mentor at LIM College. As I continue to progress in my career, I am less focused on my personal achievements and more focused on helping others.

WWD: Did you have mentors in the industry?

BS: Throughout my life, I have been fortunate enough to be guided by a number of mentors. However, I have a unique perspective on mentoring. I believe that someone does not need to be formally asked to be their mentor in order to take on that role in their life. As a matter of fact, some of my mentors may not even know that I think of them that way. They come from different fields such as fashion, entrepreneurship, technology, general business and even professional development.

As an entrepreneur, I have been very fortunate to have mentors who have helped me scale my business effectively. I’ve found that you can glean valuable insights simply by observing how your boss, co-workers and senior leaders operate in the workplace. You can learn from their negotiation skills, work ethic and even the systems they have created to achieve their goals.

WWD: What advice would you give to someone considering a career in content marketing?

BS: Content marketing is a broad field that can encompass different roles depending on the organization you work for. Establishing a career in content marketing can mean you become an expert in podcast marketing, newsletter marketing, social media or editorial SEO writing. Content marketing is like an umbrella that covers many elements of consumer brand marketing. I may be biased, but I always recommend getting into social media marketing. By creating results in an ever-changing landscape, you can develop quality habits that will make you a better marketer and strategic thinker.

In addition, you will learn how to work cross-functionally, speak like a creative, think like a marketer and have the organizational skills of a project manager.

WWD: If you could go back in time and give yourself career advice, what would it be?

BS: It is important to focus on developing your skills and expanding your network early in your career as they will yield the greatest results in the long run. To avoid feeling isolated and overwhelmed, consider joining groups or communities that interest you. This will help you realize that you are not alone in your journey and that there are others doing things just like you.

I remember feeling lost and unsure about my career direction, but it wasn’t until I joined a supportive community that I found the confidence to make significant changes.

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