Michaela Vybohova: 5 Things You Need To Create a Highly Successful Career In The Fashion Industry
Thick skin — There will be a lot of rejection coming your way, I’ve heard it all in my days from one shoulder being higher than other, being too muscular, too old, not creative enough. These comments will happen but you have to your best to don’t take it personally and move on.
As part of our series about the 5 things you need to succeed in the fashion industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michaela Vybohova.
Michaela is an International supermodel and entrepreneur, she has appeared on many magazine covers including Harper’s Bazaar, L’officiel or Maxim as well as featured in Vogue, Forbes, Daily Front Row and many more.
She is the founder of Michaela V, a footwear line offering girls and women luxury, comfort and affordability. Her shoes were requested by countless celebrities such as Beyonce, Halsey, Olivia Culpo as well featured in fashion editorials from Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, L’officiel and Numero.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Thank you for having me! My fashion journey started when my best friend talked me into going to a model search competition in our hometown in Slovakia, I wasn’t exactly up for it but I have a lot to thank her for now.
Couple months later I got my first modeling contract in Turkey, I started traveling around Europe and eventually ended up in US.
During my years of working closely with incredible designers and learning the ins and outs of industry I decided to venture out and start my own footwear line.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started?
Wow there are way too many but one comes to mind first, I was in a photoshoot for a magazine cover in a beautiful abandoned location by the sea, it required a 40 minute hike across rocks, weeds and under little cave, we were warned upon entry that we have to leave by 5pm or the cave will get flooded with water from the sea, obviously we overstayed and got trapped on little beach with no service, our only option to leave was to swim through the cave which was getting more flooded by a minute and the waves were smashing against the rocks. We had to form a human wall on the inside so we don’t get smashed into rocks and swim one by one. The equipment was not too damaged but the memory cards with all the photos didn’t make it, we had to reshoot all of afterwords in the studio, I was soaking wet and shivering but the “wet look” with plain background made the the cover. I will never forget that day.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Oh yes, I had my first casting with the designer of my dreams in Milan, I was so nervous walking into the building, I finally get to the floor and see incredibly luxury office, I asked the receptionist where should I go and I didn’t understand the directions since it was all in Italian and I was too shy to say that I have no idea what is she saying. I walk around determined to find him, around the corner I see the designer around full conference table. I get myself together, pull all the confidence and I had in my body and charge up front with my best model walk and boooooom, I didn’t notice the conference room was behind squeaky clean glass, I smashed into it head first like a confused bird it was a very loud smash that I didn’t just interrupt his meeting but also the meeting next door, they came rescuing me worrying if I was ok.
Obviously I didn’t get the job but it makes for a good story.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
One of the things that makes Michaela V shoes stand out is that it’s created by women for women, I was visiting my factory to check on production and as I walk on the floor I saw that every single person stitching and crafting my shoes by a hand is a woman. As they were working I saw them trying on the shoes, chatting, taking pictures and smiling, it made me so happy to know that my shoes are created in safe, healthy and happy environment and that’s one of the reasons that makes us special.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Everybody is different but one thing that works for me after being closed in my office for few days is just grabbing dinner with close friend and laughing, there is nothing better, it disconnects me from work problems for the night and recharges me for days.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
One of my favorite non profits is Beauty for Freedom which is dedicated to empowering and providing survivors of human trafficking resources to get their life back on track. When I got to meet few victims and they shared their stories it was incredibly heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time. I felt so lucky I could be even the smallest part in their journey to recover and move on.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?
Yes! My favorite quote is: Stay stubborn on goal but flexible on the details. I always remember that because I am a planner, I have my vision and like to strategize each step that would help me get there and what I learned is that it never happens exactly like you thought it would, there are many different ways to get to 10.
Do you see any fascinating developments emerging over the next few years in the fashion industry that you are excited about? Can you tell us about that?
Definitely inclusivity is all ranges from size, race and age. When I started modeling I thought that my career would be over at 25, I’m so glad to see that the times are changing.
Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Top 5 Things Needed to Succeed in the Fashion Industry”. Please share a story or example for each.
1. Thick skin — There will be a lot of rejection coming your way, I’ve heard it all in my days from one shoulder being higher than other, being too muscular, too old, not creative enough. These comments will happen but you have to your best to don’t take it personally and move on.
2. Create a strong Identity — Become a master at one thing from the beginning, everyone knows Hermes for their bags but they also do shoes and accessories. Same with Christian Louboutin he is known for shoes but did you know he makes perfumes also? You get my point :)
3. Stand for something — Are you socially conscious, sustainable, donate to charity, locally sourced? I get it it’s hard to do it all, but pick at least one and have a clear reason and messaging around it.
4. Connect with your market/audience — In your beginnings its important that you stay as personable as possible, let your customer feel like they know you. Social media is the biggest advantage we have, talk to your followers, ask and listen to their opinions, make them feel like they are a part of the process and they will stay loyal.
5. Do not loose motivation — Things take time, especially this industry is very unpredictable, initial sales might not be great, then you can find your product on a celebrity, your sales spike up for a month a go down again the next month, stay consistent and positive, I believe you can make it happen.
Every industry constantly evolves and seeks improvement. How do you think the fashion industry can improve itself? Can you give an example?
We witnessed so many changes in last few years, from focus on sustainability to inclusion I think we are on a great path.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
That’s a great question, I would start a movement for financial literacy curriculum in schools. When I started working and embracing my adult life I knew about photosynthesis but had no idea how to do my taxes, or what compound interest means, that’s just a small example. Everyone tells you how important is investing for your financial future but I had no clue how to do it, where to look, what to look for, I genuinely wish someone thought me or I could take classes and start earlier on.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I only use my instagram: @michaelav, excited to see you there :)
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!