Photo credit: Tiffany Clark
What do you wish you had been taught about money in school?
That it doesn’t come easily. It’s fleeting. It’s not there all the time when you need it. For certain people, when they make that move into academia, they don’t really understand how their academic training will actually be monetarily valuable to them five or six years down the line. And that you won’t necessarily continue exactly what you’re doing in college. You’re going to have to adjust your lifestyle and your interests and your expectations—what you end up doing might be a complete departure from your academic training.
Are you in school?
I was in graduate school, [but] I dropped out.
What were you studying?
I was getting my Ph.D. in classical literature.
What are you doing now?
I’m a clothing designer.
That is a departure.
It’s much more pragmatic. It puts me in touch with more people, and I get more things done.
What is your advice to young people getting a liberal arts education? Should they rethink it?
No. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Despite all the things I had to learn down the line, I wouldn’t change anything about it. I would say: Fall in love with what you’re doing in school, but don’t think it’s going to be the rest of your life. Be passionate, but don’t be dependent on it. For a lot of people I know, it leads to a lot of disappointment when they realize that studying 19th-century English gardens or fifth-century poetry or whatever will take them someplace but [that] it might not take them exactly where they imagined. You could be doing something completely different six years later.
What do you design?
Menswear, womenswear, outerwear.
Did you go to school for that?
I made the decision to learn on the job, which has been a struggle. You go through a lot of positions and get moved around a lot. But now, I’m in a place where I actually do something creative that I enjoy doing, and I get paid for it.
How did you have an ‘in’ to the clothing industry?
I nagged a lot of people. I sent tons of emails, and I sort of inched my way closer every time I got a new job. It wasn’t easy. I had to teach myself how to do a lot of things. I got fired from a lot of jobs and quit a lot of jobs. I got abused at a lot of jobs, but eventually, you find the right people who are willing to cultivate what you want to do. And those people probably wouldn’t have been interested in me if I didn’t go to college and if I didn’t get the proper education that I got … and if I wasn’t somewhat articulate and interested in something.
What are you doing in the city today?
I’m picking up denim. There’s a guy who has great denim just around the corner.
[Any reference to a specific company, commercial product, process or service does not constitute or imply an endorsement or recommendation by the National Endowment for Financial Education.]