Finding a path from fashion to technology

After earning a bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising from LIM College in 2018 and starting his career in marketing roles at Greats and Ralph Lauren, Brandon Smithwrick leveraged his skills and experience to transition into content marketing in the tech space.

Smithwrick currently serves as head of content at crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, developing and executing the strategic vision for Kickstarter’s social media, editorial blog, partnerships and other media ventures. His previous roles include head of content at music maker startup Songfinch and content team leader at Squarespace. Here, Smithwrick describes his career path, mentorship and challenges he faced.

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WWD: How would you describe your career path?

Brandon Smithwrick: I have followed a career path that combines my interests in fashion, technology, music and finance, with content and marketing as a common thread. I believe my career path is unconventional and rare as it is not common to move from the fashion industry to the technology industry, let alone explore other creative fields along the way. However, I think having multiple interests has played an important role in my success, allowing me to adapt to each internal brand I work with and apply my strategic expertise effectively.

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

B.S.: When I first started my career, I had a mentor who suggested I specialize in one area because I had an interest 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 has been switching to technology. In fashion, I knew how to market collections, seasonal sales and the like. However, with technology, I had to bring something intangible to the market that consumers couldn’t touch or try on. 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 helped me very well.

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

B.S.: As I transitioned into my new role, I made a conscious effort to focus on my transferable skills. My previous experience with social media marketing at companies like Greats and Ralph Lauren proved 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 I found the insights I gained from my previous experiences to be invaluable. In particular, working with a globally recognized brand like Ralph Lauren has helped me understand the nuances of building a brand and leveraging social media to increase awareness and engagement.

WWD: How have your college courses and internships contributed to your career decisions?

B.S.: At LIM, courses such as management and marketing played an important role in learning to navigate the workplace. I also enjoyed my professional development classes where I was able to review and perfect my resume, because having an impressive resume can help you get your foot in the door. My first internship led to my first full-time position, which provided me with a wealth of expertise and prepared me for success in my career.

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

B.S.: I am incredibly proud of my recent achievement of being named to the Forbes ’30 Under 30′ list in Marketing and Advertising. I am equally proud of mentoring several 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 progress in my career, I am less focused on my personal achievements and more focused on helping others.

WWD: Have you had any mentors within the industry?

B.S.: Throughout my life, I have been fortunate to be guided by a number of mentors. However, I have a unique perspective when it comes to mentorship. I believe that you don’t necessarily have to formally ask someone to be a mentor in order to play that role in your life. Some of my mentors may not even be aware that I view them as such. They come from different fields such as fashion, entrepreneurship, technology, general business and even professional development.

As an entrepreneur, I have been especially fortunate to have mentors who have helped me scale my business efficiently. I’ve discovered that you can gain valuable insights by simply observing how your boss, coworkers, and senior leaders function in the workplace. You can learn from their negotiation skills, work ethics, 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?

B.S.: Content marketing is a vast field that can encompass different roles depending on the organization you work for. Building a career in content marketing could mean being an expert in podcast marketing, newsletter marketing, social media, or editorial SEO writing. Content marketing is like an umbrella that encompasses many marketing elements for consumer brands. I may be biased, but I always recommend following social media marketing. By proving results in an ever-evolving landscape, you can develop quality habits that make you a better marketer and strategic thinker.

You will also learn to work cross-functionally, speak like a creative person, think like a marketer and have the organizational skills of a project manager.

WWD: If you could go back in time and give career advice to your younger self, what would it be?

B.S.: It’s important to focus on developing your skills and expanding your network early in your career as these will yield the greatest returns in the long run. To avoid feeling isolated and overwhelmed, consider joining groups or communities that share your interests. This will help you realize that you are not alone in your journey and that other people are figuring things out 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 gained the confidence to make meaningful changes.

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