Mary Jo Miller

Fashion Marketing & Management

Fashion Marketing & Management Instructor
The Art Institute of Atlanta

Mary Jo Miller

Working in the fashion industry is tough... I want [my students] to know what they're in for. But I also want to show them just how exciting and exhilarating of a career it is. Mary Jo Miller , Fashion Marketing & Management Instructor , The Art Institute of Atlanta
Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

My mother says that when I was only 4-years-old, I would wake up and say, “Today, I want to wear blue!”. So I guess a sense of fashion has been with me from the start. I have always felt very connected to the fashion industry and in some way I wanted to extend my love of fashion to others.

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?

I’m able to draw on personal experiences from being in the industry and share real world scenarios with students in the classroom. Working in the fashion industry is tough. It requires long hours and long days, your feet hurt all the time, and you have to make split-second decisions and hope and pray they are right. I want them to know what they’re in for. But I also want to show them just how exciting and exhilarating of a career it is–that there are endless possibilities in this field.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

One of my favorite things to teach is our Portfolio class. Students have to write and deliver an “elevator speech”— a 30-second introduction of themselves, their business plan, and what inspired them to create this business. It forces them to think about what truly gives them inspiration and, most importantly, it gives them a glimpse into their future.

How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?

Working in the fashion industry is all about teamwork, whether it’s working in a retail store, planning a fashion show, or styling for a photo shoot. Many fashion students have interests in other areas, such as graphic design and photography, so partnering with other departments is an enriching learning experience for them.

What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on this career path?

To reap the benefits of a truly rewarding career, you must pay your dues. When you start at the bottom, you have nowhere to go but up. But when you get there, you know that you have earned it.

What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?

Don’t get caught up in the glitz and the glam of the industry. If you stick with it and work hard, it will pay off.

Anything else?

I feel so lucky that I get to talk about fashion all day at The Art Institute of Atlanta. When a student tells me that they learned so much in my class, it’s one of the best feelings in the world.