A Conversation with Alice Casely-Hayford, Content Director at NET-A-PORTER

After a rich career in the industry, Alice Casely-Hayford joined NET-A-PORTER in 2019 as Content Director...

After a rich career in the industry, Alice Casely-Hayford joined NET-A-PORTER in 2019 as Content Director – overseeing the entire content strategy, which encompasses all marketing content across the NET-A-PORTER site, social and email, as well as the editorial offering on PORTER. Many are her achievements at this establishment, and being on the panel of mentors for NET-A-PORTER’s The Vanguard Education Fund is one of them.

As the announcement of the fund’s winners gets closer, Alice-Casely-Hayford dedicates an exclusive interview to Azyaamode to communicate all about this important mentorship scheme.  

How did the idea of the Vanguard Education Fund come to life?

We aren’t short of creative minds and talent in the industry, but ensuring a stable backend is super important. Through our continuous support of and communication with emerging designers, we recognised that the challenges they often face have to do with cash flow, production and logistics. Together with the British Fashion Council, we have developed a fund that aims to provide both strategic and monetary support, giving more students the opportunity and knowledge to establish themselves within the fashion industry early on in their career.

I was thrilled to be included in NET-A-PORTER’s Vanguard Education Fund as a mentor to provide first-hand guidance to this new generation of talent.

Tell us more about this fund, the message behind it, the fields it covers…

The Vanguard Education Fund is NET-A-PORTER’s global mentorship program. Our aim is to encourage more diverse talent into the industry by supporting applicants from a broad range of backgrounds at the very beginning of their careers.

The goal is to continually expand our mentorship programs, and being able to offer learnings from our long-standing Vanguard program to university students marks an exciting next step in our work to ensure emerging designers have the tools they need for a successful, sustainable career.

Final-year BA students studying at UK universities within the BFC Colleges Council and selected international institutions (Parsons School of Design and ESMOD) are eligible to participate. This year will be especially exciting, as it will be the first time a regional institution from the Middle East participates - ESMOD Dubai.

Where does NET-A-PORTER’s role lie in the process of this fund?

We provide financial assistance to the winning students, empowering them to develop their brands. Our program offers the invaluable benefit of two industry figures, per winner, who serve as mentors for a full 12 months, guiding designers as they prepare to launch their brands.

As the content director at NET-A-PORTER, what is the message you would like to communicate to students in this field?

Having worked in the industry for the past 15 years, I feel excited by the changing landscape as the space becomes more diverse, accessible, and inclusive. There is a long way to go but I can encourage students to persevere, constantly remain curious with a desire to learn, learn, learn and believe in themselves.      

Being a mentor taking part in this fund, how can your career inspire the participating students?

My career hasn’t been an obvious straight line from where I started to where I am today. I have had to take what seemed to be a sidestep at times but in hindsight was actually the right step to bring me to where I am now. I hope that talent feels encouraged that a journey isn’t always linear and that unconventional or unexpected opportunities can be just as, if not more rewarding and enriching in the long-term as the job or project you might have missed out on.

How do you think a fashion student can guarantee their success in modern days?

I don’t think there is a secret formula for success unfortunately, but I do believe in having a great work ethic, building an authentic brand with a unique point of view, and establishing a community. Collaboration is certainly a necessary ingredient for success and I also think a sense of humor often helps.

Article Written by Mirella Haddad