By Katie Jansen | Photo by Pilar Timpane
A handful of students sought advice about breaking into the fashion industry from Andrea Hyde ’87 during her recent visit to campus for her Alumni Weekend.
Hyde, who majored in political science, said her major helped her to understand bureaucracy and decision-making. However, she didn’t know being an entrepreneur was an option during her time at Duke, and she said she wished she had figured that out sooner.
Hyde has worked for many giants in the fashion industry – she’s interned at Calvin Klein, worked in product development in the Estee Lauder training program and worked in PR and marketing for Gap.
She’s also been an entrepreneur, helping Chris Burch incubate many different fashion brands and getting a handle on international business by working at French Connection in England.
She found her current role through a call from a headhunter, who asked if she wanted to work on a celebrity brand. At first, Hyde didn’t think she was interested in the opportunity.
But when she went to meet Reese Witherspoon, Hyde was blown away by Witherspoon’s knowledge and passion. She signed on to be CEO of Draper James, a Southern fashion company.
Hyde and the team spent a year incubating the brand, doing everything vertically because they wanted to be able to scale quickly.
Hyde uses her experience building this and other brands when she gives advice.
One has to think creatively and quickly, she told the students who met her for coffee recently. Others in the industry will copy you if you have a good idea, but by then, you’ll be on to your next good idea.
When asked about the future of malls with the rise of online shopping, Hyde said that people want to go out of their homes and try things on, but it’s up to store owners to bring them back.
“People want to have an exciting experience,” she said. “It’s our responsibility as brand owners to make it experiential and to get people to come back in.”
But the formula for success is simple, she said. You’ll find it if you have the right idea and you’re passionate enough.
Hyde said she thinks it’s an exciting time to be an entrepreneur because there are so many resources available that can help along the way.
Another student asked her whether she should pursue her idea for a fashion magazine now, or wait until she has the resources that can make it successful.
“Don’t wait,” Hyde said. “This world moves way too fast. And someone else will do it if you don’t.”