So, starting soon, you can’t intern for Vogue. What are you going to do? You could be like Olga Kuryshchuk and could create your own blog, featuring your own original designs, art direct photo shoots, and get some funding from one of fashion’s most storied houses—in her case, Adrian Joffee, CEO of Comme Des Garcons—and turn your blog into a magazine sold all over London. Casually, of course.
It’s hard to make it in the fashion industry. Even at Central Saint Martins, perhaps the most prestigious art and design school, only a fraction of the students achieve the kind of success all enter looking to attain. Enter Kuryshchuk, Editor in Chief of 1Granary, a magazine run entirely by CSM students. 1Granary is not only a creative outlet for students—it’s actually a successful magazine that—gasp!—prints. Hard copies. That are sold in stores.
I spoke with Kuryshchuk about getting funding for the magazine—“luck!”—as well as her thoughts on the fashion industry, internships, and publications. She’s shockingly hardworking, to the point where she explained that she would work 1Granary as a break from her schoolwork and internships. Considering my breaks involve mostly Law & Order SVU, I was shocked. She laughs and reminds me, “It’s a fun break!”
Kuryshchuk started the project to be a platform for experimentation in other realms of fashion –she’s a design student but was interested in styling— as well as a strategic career move: “I have so many friends in school, and we constantly discussed that it is so hard after graduating to get noticed by the industry,” she explains. “Only a few out of 100 get anywhere.” As she explains, being brilliant designers isn’t enough. CSM doesn’t provide business classes. Students have their creativity nurtured, but that’s only half the battle.
1Granary allows students to experience the business side of the fashion industry as well as connect with their professors outside the classroom: “At CSM you have tutorials and you only have five minutes to talk about your work. Imagine you have an hour where you could sit and talk about working in the industry, how to get an internship, what’s important when you graduate from college and you’re in the professional world, all of this advice.” Kuryshchuk finds that professors open up in a way that they don’t have time to during tutorials: she appreciates getting to hear their career trajectories. “Most of our tutors worked with such book brands like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and they were classmates with McQueen or Katie Grand, so just to hear their stories is pretty cool,” Kuryshchuk explains in possibly the understatement of the year.
Kuryshchukattributes having no money to some of her most creative moments. Innovation comes out of necessity, after all: “You really start looking at things in a different way. Some of our shoots were literally done outside my house.” Including Kuryshchuk’s personal favorite shoot, from their recycling issue, which came about after she realized all of her friends who work on the magazine were at her house for the same party: “We had a very loud party that evening and the photographer was there and the make up artist was there and one of the models was crashing on my sofa that week and we decided ‘Oh yeah let’s do a shoot tomorrow.’ And we all went to sleep at five in the morning, woke up at 8. Everyone was still hangover. We just shot everything outside my house in the street and the whole experience was so much fun.”
So, what advice would she give to people attempting to break into the startup population scene? First, sort out your priorities as well as your motivation: For whom are you actually making the magazine? “Because no matter how brilliant you’ll make it, if its printed, then you need to sell it.” Who’s the market for 1Granary? “We got lucky and we got our niche of people who wanted to know what was going on beyond the walls of CSM.” Or maybe their customers are attracted to the seams bursting with young talent—designers, models, photographers—and innovative shoots.”
Many CSM students who work on 1Granary do so as their third job: in addition to being students, they hold unpaid internships at fashion houses and many have part-time jobs to pay for life expenses that their free labor doesn’t cover. Naturally, I had to ask Kuryshchuk her thoughts on the prevalence (or now, lack of) internships in fashion. Her thoughts are mixed: “It’s horrible and weird when you’re doing internships and you also have to do a part time job to support yourself. A lot of the internships have us at the office until 2 or 3 AM.” CSM students often work with “dream brands” like Balenciaga and Givenchy: “Obviously, that’s an amazing experience to learn something and become a better designer. No one would view that as a job.” Not every fashion brand is part of LVMH, and Kuryshchuk knows that unpaid work also smaller, independent brands who simply can’t afford to pay: “That’s how small labels survive in London because you could have free interns who would help you out. When I’m starting out, I really hope someone would help me, too.”
Kuryshchuk is graduating soon, but hopes that someone will take over her role as EIC so 1Granary can continue to be a campus presence. Her biggest goals for the magazine are to make enough money that they can build sets and travel far to shoot them. That’s not all she’d spend her money on: “The moment we start making money is the moment I hope to start paying every single member of the team, even if you’re a foundation student, you’ll get something out of it.”