YPDaily: Nicola MacEwen

As the Fashion Program Director and Marketing Coordinator at John Casablancas Institute, 30-year-old Nicola MacEwen’s daily work revolves around giving advice. What’s her advice to young professionals? Find out in today’s YPDaily…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
After 5 years as the College Director at John Casablancas Institute, I recently switched things up and I’m currently the Fashion Program Director and Marketing Coordinator. To some, my role suggests a semi-glamorous one, but it’s very business oriented. A day in my life could consist of developing or updating course content, updating the JC website, collecting information for an email blast to prospective students, or meeting with a current student regarding progress. Currently I’m spending much of my time as the lead project manager for the fashion department’s move to the 4th floor of our building. The Fashion Annex is expected to be completed in the summer, then my next project consists of turning the existing fashion rooms on the main floor into a computer lab and photography studio.

Why did you start working at your company?
By chance. I was consulting for an eco-friendly retail firm, and the owner recommended me for an instructor role in fashion buying. I had been a buyer for a few years in New York, and buying was a part of my consultancy, so it was a prefect match.

What was the inspiration for this career route?
It’s actually quite funny actually because my final decision on education was between fashion and psychology. Although I went the fashion route I’ve certainly found both of these fields in one role, as I often use counsel-like approaches when handling student services. I never pictured going this direction, but when I started teaching at JCI I knew I was in the right place. Luckily a few months into teaching one of the few full-time roles at JC became available and I filled the spot. What lured me in was seeing the pure excitement of eager students ready to get their “creative on”. I love watching their ideas grow into projects, and ultimately careers and  even sometimes real companies.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis?
Writing grad bios. It’s very satisfying to write a bio about a person who may have sat in my office years prior telling me about their dream to be a designer or a stylist, and then writing about how they made that happen! The most challenging part? Seeing a student give up on their dream. Drop outs happen here and there and, sometimes considering the circumstances, they make sense, but most often they don’t. I fight to keep all of my students in school. 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
If I’m not living off the coast of France (haha), I’ll likely be at JCI part-time while maintaining my own business. I have a endless dream list which includes goals such as writing a book, recording an album, completing a triathlon, and going to Disneyworld so I plan to be very busy working and ticking items off the list!

What does success look like to you?
Success is a lot more than the number of zeroes on your paycheck. Now, we need enough zeroes to live in this beautiful city, but I believe in order to be good at what you do, you need to be ecstatic about doing it. Success is waking up each day loving what you do, being kind to others, and being the authentic “you”. If you have all of those elements in your life, well then I’d say you’re golden! 

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Before I hit age 30, I was running operations for a private accredited college. I’d say that’s not bad. It was hard work and often stressful, but I learned so much, met amazing people, and earned valuable respect and trust from my employers and fellow colleagues.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
I give advice all day, every day. Work hard, LISTEN (stop thinking about what you’re going to say next while the other person is talking), be respectful to every single person to meet along your path (because you NEVER know when you’ll see or need them), don’t fake it just BE YOURSELF, you’re never too old or too young for anything. Oh, and punch “fear” in the face.

Do you support any charities? Yes If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Business: As a part of the curriculum, JC fashion students produce a non-profit fashion show. The money raised from the four shows our students produce each year is given to that year’s charity of choice. Last year we were able to donate $10,000 to the Looking Glass Foundation, and this year’s profit will go to Covenant House. Personal: I contribute to many organizations throughout the year. (ie. BC Cancer Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Movember, American Cancer Society). I completed the 2011 Ride to Conquer Cancer, which was a 240km bike ride to Seattle. It was the most fulfilling experience of my life. Our small team of nine managed to raise close to $30,000 for the BC Cancer Foundation. My good friend Joey Sherren is the strongest cancer survivor I’ve ever met, and she inspired me to join her team. 

What is Notable to you?
The effect of family on an individual is fascinating. My parents, all six of my siblings, and my husband make me who I am. I learned kindness from my grandmother, listening from my husband, love from my mother, athleticism from my big sister, and bear hugs from my little brother. I’m very thankful for these wonderful practices, as they’ve made me the best I can be in my career and life.

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