Real Careers: How to Become a Creative Director

Words by Jody Hume | 1.8.19
How does one become a luxury goods authenticator, stylist or creative director? Where do you begin when there’s no clear-cut path for your desired profession? In our new Real Careers series, we ask members of The RealReal about how they got started in the industry, their day-to-day routines & advice for navigating the world of fashion and its infinite possibilities.
It seems the title of creative director has taken off over the past decade. Every top fashion designer now has the title (or something similar), and the top post in design, media and many more industries is more coveted than ever. But what does it actually mean? To discover what it’s really like, we caught up with our own Director of Creative and Editorial, Bianca Wendt, at our LA store. She shared her insights on how to break into the industry, what the job really entails and where she finds her inspiration.
What does it mean to be a creative director?
To oversee and implement the voice and vision of a brand.

What has your career path been like, and how did you get your start?
I am Australian and studied architecture there before switching over to graphic design. An exchange trip to study at Central Saint Martins College that was initially meant for a few months ended up leading to a masters degree in visual communication and a ten year stint in London. After that I moved to Istanbul for three years. There I worked as the art director of a magazine, as well as teaching design at a local university and working for clients such as the Beymen department store. From there, I moved back to London and worked for book publisher Phaidon before starting my own creative agency working for clients such as London Fashion Week, Viewpoint Magazine and the British Council. I ended up in SF around four years ago and after working at Sephora, found my way to The RealReal.

What’s the best piece of career advice anyone has ever given you?
Do what you do best and what makes you unique; don’t try to be someone else.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?
We move so fast that there are always different priorities competing for attention.

Where do you look for inspiration?
I wish I could say exhibitions and galleries. But Instagram. And I travel a lot.
What are the most important skills someone needs to become a creative director?
Big picture thinking, focus on the details, and everything in between. The ability to have a vision and communicate it to a team. You need to be able to get the ideas out of your head so that other people can understand them.

How can someone get a foot in the door?
If you admire someone doing the job you want, follow their career and reach out to them. Work on projects that you feel passionate about, even if you’re not getting paid. That work can go in your portfolio and give people a real sense of what you’re about, and can be used to enter competitions for awards. To find the bridge from your current role to the one you want, create your own opportunities. For example, I hosted a conceptual pop-up at my home — Dark Arts & Crafts — that featured a curated collection of spooky design objects on the eve of Halloween. I didn’t know it at the time, but it ended up preparing me for some of the curation that’s involved in my current job.
What do you think is unique or changing about the role of creative director in the current moment?
I think that there are so many interpretations of the role, it can be what you make it.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Seeing the vision come to life.

What have been some of your favorite projects at The RealReal?
Overall, helping bring the brand values to life. From elevating the photo shoots to developing a custom typeface to defining our different customer profiles. A highlight was working on the opening of the LA store, which is a manifestation of the brand come to life — the art installations and Curated by the RealReal selections work together to tell the amazing stories of The RealReal. Another project that stands out is helping to produce our television commercial.
Inspired to build your creative career? Dress the part with our Editors’ Picks.
Photos by Marisa Vitale.

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