Finding a Path From Fashion to Tech

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising from LIM College in 2018 and starting his career with marketing roles at Greats and Ralph Lauren, Brandon Smithwrick leveraged his skills and experience to transition into content marketing in the tech space.

Currently head of content at the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, Smithwrick develops and executes the strategic vision for Kickstarter’s social media, editorial blog, partnerships and other media ventures. His previous roles include serving as head of content at music creator startup Songfinch and content team lead at Squarespace. Here, Smithwrick describes his career path, mentorship and challenges faced.

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WWD: How would you describe your career path?

Brandon Smithwrick: I have pursued a career path that combines my interests in fashion, technology, music and finance, with content and marketing as the common thread. I believe my career path is unconventional and rare, as it is not common to transition from the fashion industry to the tech industry, let alone explore other creative fields along the way. However, I think having multiple interests has played a significant role in my success, allowing me to adapt to any in-house brand I work with and apply my strategic expertise effectively.

WWD: What are some of the challenges you have faced in your career?  

B.S.: When I first started my career, I had a mentor who suggested that I specialize in one area because I had an interest in styling, creative direction and digital marketing. Despite this advice, I pursued digital marketing for my corporate jobs but kept my creative passion for my side projects.

Brandon Smithwrick
Brandon Smithwrick

One of my biggest challenges as a fashion marketer was transitioning to tech. In fashion, I knew how to market collections, seasonal sales and the like. However, with tech, I had to market something intangible that consumers couldn’t touch or try on. I had to show value through tech and SaaS-focused marketing tactics, which was a new approach for me. Once I got used to it, this method served me very well.

WWD: How did you go from fashion to your current industry? 

B.S.: When I transitioned to my new role, I made a conscious effort to focus on my transferable skills. My previous experience in social media marketing at companies such as Greats and Ralph Lauren proved to be very helpful. I was able to apply the lessons I learned from working with a globally recognized brand like Ralph Lauren to my work at Squarespace. At Squarespace, I worked on social media strategy and marketing, and I found that the insights I gained from my previous experiences were invaluable. In particular, working with a globally recognized brand like Ralph Lauren helped me understand the nuances of building a brand and leveraging social media to drive awareness and engagement.

WWD: How did your college coursework and internships help inform your career decisions? 

B.S.: At LIM, courses like management and marketing played a significant role in helping me learn how to navigate the workplace. I also enjoyed my professional development classes, where I was able to review and perfect my résumé, as having an impressive résumé can help you get your foot in the door. My first internship led to my first full-time role, which provided me with a wealth of expertise and prepared me for success in my career.

WWD: Is there a professional achievement you are particularly proud of?

B.S.: I am incredibly proud of my recent achievement of being placed on the Forbes “30 Under 30” list in marketing and advertising. I am equally proud of mentoring several young professionals who share my background as a creative marketer, winning a Webby award for my work at Squarespace and being a marketing mentor at LIM College. As I continue to progress in my career, I am less focused on my personal achievements and more focused on helping others.

WWD: Have you had mentors within the industry? 

B.S.: Throughout my life, I have had the good fortune of being guided by a number of mentors. However, I hold a unique perspective when it comes to mentorship. I believe that one doesn’t necessarily have to formally request someone to be their mentor for them to play that role in their life. As a matter of fact, some of my mentors may not even be aware that I consider them as such. They hail from various fields such as fashion, entrepreneurship, technology, general business and even professional development.

As an entrepreneur, I have been particularly lucky to have mentors who have helped me in scaling my business efficiently. I have discovered that you can gather valuable insights simply by observing how your boss, coworkers and senior leaders operate in the workplace. You can learn from their negotiation skills, work ethics and even the systems they have created to achieve their goals.

WWD: What advice would you give someone considering a career in content marketing? 

B.S.: Content marketing is a vast field that can encompass various roles depending on the organization you work for. Establishing a career in content marketing can mean you are an expert in podcast marketing, newsletter marketing, social media or editorial SEO writing. Content marketing is like an umbrella that covers many consumer brand marketing elements. I may be biased, but I always recommend pursuing social media marketing. By proving results in a constantly evolving landscape, you can develop quality habits that make you a better marketer and strategic thinker.

Additionally, you will learn how to work cross-functionally, speaking like a creative, thinking like a marketer and having the organizational skills of a project manager.

WWD: If you could go back in time and give career advice to your younger self, what would it be? 

B.S.: It is important to focus on developing your skills and expanding your network early on in your career as they will yield the greatest returns in the long run. To avoid feeling isolated and overwhelmed, consider joining groups or communities that share your interests. This will help you realize that you are not alone in your journey and that other people are also figuring things out just like you.

I remember feeling lost and unsure about my career direction, but it wasn’t until I joined a supportive community that I gained the confidence to make meaningful changes.

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