In the Fashion Forward series, IFA Paris alumni give insight into how their studies at IFA Paris paved the way to land their dream job. Today, we talk with Dulnimit Masilela, a Bachelor Fashion Marketing graduate. Dulnimit is already multicultural being half-Thai and half-South African. Yet, being at IFA Paris and immersed in a truly international school with students from over 50 different countries, taught her how to communicate across cultural boundaries even better.
Get to know:
Name: Dulnimit Masilela
Nationality: South African
IFA Campus: Paris
Program studied: Bachelor Fashion Marketing
Graduation year: 2019
Favourite course: It’s not a favourite course, but rather a favourite year! It’s the third year at IFA Paris doing the final project because I could incorporate everything I learned over the years at IFA Paris – whether it was about trends and branding to business elements like finance. I really enjoyed that!
Current project: I’m currently doing the first year of my Masters at SKEMA, focusing on international marketing and business development. I chose it to complement my fashion degree with a business-focused one. I’ve also just started the Women@Dior mentorship programme, and while I’ve only just started, I’m excited as it combines two of my interests – fashion and sustainable development. This programme is focused on mentorship (career guidance) and sustainable leadership education. It’s great to be able to network and meet others in this industry!
Fashion inspiration: It’s so hard to just choose one! When I was younger, I had my go-to Asian bloggers for inspiration like Margaret Zhang and Vanessa Hong (The Haute Pursuit). Now, I want to say as I’m living in Europe, I’m moving towards a more Western, minimalist (but still fun!) style; see Jen Ceballos (endlesslyloveclub) and Camelia Farhoodi, and designers like Peter Do and Jacquemus.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background – who you are, where you come from and what got you interested in studying fashion.
I’m half-Thai, half-South African, born in South Africa, grew up there and so am very much South African! In high school I got popular magazines like Vogue every month and would love dressing up. I knew I liked fashion, just didn’t realise how much until I came to France for the first time at 18 and fell in love with Paris.
This was when I thought, ‘how cool would it be if I followed what I actually liked doing?’. I wanted to do something that I was genuinely interested in, and that was fashion. There’s so much to the world of fashion in addition to designing garments or being a fashion editor.
IFA Paris is the only school I applied to, and when I started, I loved that it’s so international! When you’re there, it’s so beneficial as you’re meeting people with different nationalities and cultures. In class, the discussions are fascinating as the diversity brings so much value!
Also, because it’s a fashion school, everyone who applies WANTS to be there, unlike what might happen with regular universities. Everyone’s super motivated and passionate.
I remember it was only two or three weeks into the first semester of the first year at IFA Paris. Rihanna was showing her FENTY collection for the first time in Paris, and a bunch of us were so excited about it we organised to go to the venue together after class, despite us only knowing each other for about a week or two.
What are you currently doing and what’s most exciting about it?
I’m currently doing a Master’s at SKEMA as I wanted to compliment my fashion schooling with general business knowledge. It’s interesting because I’m learning about different industries (at IFA Paris the focus is on fashion brands and cosmetics) and getting an overview of business concepts from a different perspective.
I recently started the Women@Dior mentorship programme so we’ll see how that goes!
And lastly, I’m in the planning phase of starting a project with a friend that works towards economic empowerment and education for the youth in South Africa; it’s something that is really important. I’m so excited to give back and know that this is the direction we really want to head towards.
What skills did you learn at IFA Paris that helps you in your current role?
It’s definitely the intercultural communication. This is the biggest thing I’ve taken from IFA Paris that I can use today, and it’s been so beneficial. It’s essential if you want to have a global career. You need to communicate effectively with different people despite language and cultural backgrounds – you need to understand how they think, communicate, and act.
Sunset at Quai de la Marne canal outside our campus
Plus, I could really understand the culture behind fashion through IFA Paris. It’s not just about runways or designing. There’s also the sociology and cultural aspect regarding consumer behaviour and fashion.
I also considered myself to be really shy, but being at IFA Paris forced me to take more risks. Teachers were always telling us to ‘put yourself out there; you need to be able to connect with people.’ I remember one exercise with Agus, a streetstyle photographer and teacher at IFA Paris. She took us to the Chanel fashion show and told us to take pictures of people’s outfits. She told us to ask questions, take photos and talk to people, even if it really scared us! You end up building confidence from just pushing yourself a little out of your comfort zone.
In FOUR words, describe your IFA Paris experience:
Fun (for all the friends and fun times I’ve had!), immersive, diverse, door-opening
What words of wisdom do you have for current and any future IFA Paris students?
You really have to be super proactive. Every day I choose to be proactive and that’s one reason why I’m in the Women@Dior mentorship programme. Regardless of your grades and work experience, if you’re bold and put the work in every day, you will get to where you want to be.
Another tip is that it’s so important in the fashion and business industry to network and meet people to guide and support you. At IFA Paris, almost every single teacher emphasizes the importance of networking.
If you could choose three things to include for an IFA Paris “survival toolkit”, what would they be?
A laptop, an open-minded attitude and lastly, if you’re going to be studying in Paris, learning French is a must. You won’t be able to enjoy Paris and all the opportunities to its fullest if you can’t communicate.
Dulminit’s top tips for: Paris
Cheap eats: There’s an amazing Vietnamese restaurant called Pho 11 on Rue Sainte Anne, in the 2nd arrondissement. It’s a little restaurant, but I promise you, it’s the most delicious Vietnamese place with massive portions for only 10 Euros!
Place to hangout with friends: Around metro Sentier you will find some really cool bars and restaurants! There’s Bambou, which is a Thai restaurant with great Asian style decoration and an outside terrace area.
Getting around: Definitely download CityMapper because it’s the most useful thing to help you get around! I also recommend subscribing to the Navigo pass. You can go anywhere within the zones. For example, going to the Fontainebleu forest for a hike will cost you 10 euros one way, but its included in the Navigo pass subscription.
Relaxing: I love going to Jardin de Palais Royal, it’s my favourite park! I go there and sit under the canopy of trees or by the fountain and just read. It’s so nice and relaxing and chill.
Favourite word in local language: Genre (like) it’s like the colloquial “like” when you’re speaking.
For more information on this program, please visit: Bachelor Fashion Marketing
This program is also available online for distance learning – find more information on our new platform: IFA Paris – Learn Online: Bachelor Fashion Marketing
If you are an alumn and would like to be featured, or know someone who should be, don’t hesitate to let us know at [email protected]