Laura Ciccarello | Threading your own path in fashion | #ThePeopleOfTrimco

Mar 8, 2023
Employee Spotlight

Interview with Laura Ciccarello – Trimco Group US Inc Business Development Manager.

It’s not always that our plans unfold the way we want them to, or the way we dream them to be. Two and a half years ago, Laura Ciccarello joined our US team in New York, and ever since, she’s been the running engine, driving activities and brand support in the East Coast area. With a creative mind and a feel for beautiful design, it’s still unsure if Laura embraced fashion or the fashion world fell for her positive attitude and contagious energy.

With a future that looked like a career in arts, Laura’s destiny took a turn and entered the world of fashion and met the textile industry at an early stage, as she stepped closer to the manufacturing processes of fashion. What was Laura’s journey until she joined our team at Trimco Group and what does she like, and dislike, about the textile world, in the interview with her below. Enjoy!

Laura, you’ve been with Trimco Group for two years now, but we doubt your dream has always been working for a sustainable goods and software manufacturer. What was your dream before joining the fashion industry?

Laura: I think everyone (including myself) thought I was going to be an artist. I was in what they call “the gifted arts programs” in the US since the 5th grade and completed multiple murals of the walls of my middle school and high school after getting the invitation to contribute. When I was 13, I started to sell my artwork, showed in galleries and got commissioned to paint portraits.

It wasn’t until I was 14 that I started making fashion and accessory sketches after I started binge reading fashion magazines. In one magazine there was an international handbag design contest, held by the The Sak handbag company in San Francisco. I made three sketches and told my parents in advance I was going to win. I mentioned I would also need to shop for new outfits for the trip and one parent has to agree to come with me. To their surprise, a few months later I joined the breakfast table one morning with a letter saying I had won the contest!

On this fully paid trip it was incredible to see firsthand the inside of a major accessories company. It was then and there that I decided to pursue a career in fashion.

Now that’s a lot of confidence for a 14-year old. But that’s what shaped you and trusting your gut, your talent and knowledge is an art, and a great asset for a “never give up” personality, like you. Was there a mentor in your career that you look up to?

Laura: My first boss, Neil Mossberg, who owns a 40-year-old manufacturing company called World Marketing. I started as his assistant and gradually moved up the ranks until I was running his women’s lingerie, sportswear, and accessory division by the time I was in my mid-twenties. His company was the first to give me an opportunity where I was both designing products and selling them to retailers like Neiman Marcus, Sak’s 5th Avenue, HSN, Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Amazon, the list goes on. We traveled the world together, putting together collections in factories and visiting retailers.

Neil taught me everything I know about manufacturing, from the raw materials to shipping out the containers of goods. We also had some fun celebrity licensing deals we worked on together with Lil Kim, Usher and Beverly Johnson, just to name a few, so I learned a great deal about contract law while that was going on which I would apply to many future deals. We are still good friends to this day.

“It was time for me to align myself with a company with principles.

Now that’s a nice way to start a career. So, have you always been working with fashion or textiles? What did you do before and how did you end up in the textile industry and eventually with Trimco?

Laura: I started in design and began working with Alfred Dunner when I was 18 and still in school at The Fashion Institute of Technology. This was before Photoshop and Illustrator became a standard in design, so everything was by hand; every sketch, every flat and only in marker and ink.

Many roles, designs and manufacturing projects later, when I had my own jewelry and accessories collection, I started to feel burnt out with the demands of price over quality that was driving the fashion business a few years back. It felt different. Fast fashion was at its peak, fashion week stopped being at Lincoln Center and there was an air of the start of a decline in the industry I had known. I was looking to pivot into a related category with a wider variety of partners, where my sole focus could be sales. Since I was already knowledgeable in textiles and loved sales, I decided to join Samsung’s fashion division. After it began the process of shutting down years later, I moved back into working with factories and working with brands and retailers to produce garments. During this time, I witnessed a lot within the factories I worked with that didn’t sit well with me. I had been bringing in new business and scaling companies for years without asking enough questions and it was time for me to align myself with a company with principles. When the pandemic hit and I was laid off, I took a break that whole summer to decide what to do next. I was looking for my next role to be in sales, but wanted to do something that made better products and that made a difference.

While interviewing with Trimco Group, I was impressed by the level of innovation, chic design and sustainability. I had seen nothing like their collections in my entire career. It wasn’t until I met with Benny, our CMO, did I realize what a massive opportunity this was. Here I am two years later, running the East Coast sales and working with a wonderful team in several states that continue to grow.

“We are starting to notice a shift in the US where companies are beginning to look at their usage of fabrics, trim and packaging and starting to ask the right questions before committing to buy a product.

It’s no secret that we’re so grateful and happy to have you as part of our team, but the fashion world is not always pretty, but not all too bad either. What do you like most and least about the apparel and textile world?

Laura: Fashion is so inspiring to our lives. I love always being surrounded by color, innovation and design. I enjoy being in meetings with our customers who are sharing what they are working on and it’s always very exciting. Our industry is collaborative and there is always something new to discover. There’s never a dull moment. I would say my least favorite aspect is the abusive power many people hold over others and our planet. There are so many tools and products for designers, stakeholders and company owners that can make better choices for the greater good, but they still choose profit above all else. I’m hoping that the Fashion Act in New York State, sponsored by Senator Biaggi and Assembly Member, Anna R Kelles, gets passed sooner rather than later.

We are starting to notice a shift in the US where companies are beginning to look at their usage of fabrics, trim and packaging and starting to ask the right questions before committing to buy a product. There has been a surge in sourcing recycled or biodegradable goods and companies making sustainability goals for the next few years which is incredible! Our ProductDNA® platform paired with environmentally protective legislation in place would be a game changer for the fashion industry.

“People care. It sounds like such a simple thing, but it is different in a good way at Trimco.

That is very well said. The entire industry is changing and it’s great to follow the developments in the US territory. The topic on everyone’s lips nowadays is “sustainability”. It is something we work with at Trimco and something we support our brands with through our solutions – but is sustainability part of your daily routine and habits too?

Laura: Yes, absolutely! I ordered from a fast fashion site only once and the cheap polyester arrived in a mailer that made crunching sounds when I opened it. It was the last time I purchased from sites like that.

I believe in buying quality over quantity and love shopping in the resale markets to help put money back into people’s pockets whenever possible. I recycle everything possible and always pass on my unwanted clothing to friends. I’m lucky that I’m in New York City where we have recycling and donations at our fingertips.

Also, I would never buy anything “vegan or faux fur”. I’m glad I’ve heard from a manufacturer that they take a few thousand years to completely biodegrade. For faux fur, if laundered or washed in the sink, the little ends of the polyester will go into the water system and never leave.

That’s the spirit! And because everything we do doesn’t really stay within the US borders, and we always think global, what is it like to work in a company with so many different cultures and present in so many different locations?

Laura: It’s really incredible and due to the time differences, it benefits our clients as we are working for them around the clock, 24 hours a day. Once one office closes, tasks are shifted to another time zone, and so on and so forth until the project is complete.

On a personal level, it’s fun to get to know so many people from such diverse backgrounds. I can honestly say I’ve learned the most about global cultures at this company.

We’ve heard great things so far, but can you tell us what you like about working at Trimco Group? Is it really anything special about it?

Laura: People care. It sounds like such a simple thing, but it is different in a good way at Trimco. We are all connected despite being in so many different offices and talk so often. Twenty-one offices to be exact. New York City is one of the toughest and most boxed-in environments in the world to work in and working at Trimco specifically makes the experience more global in every way possible.

There is a unique level of support and genuineness in all of my colleagues that I really admire and am thankful for. I didn’t know there was such a high level of compassion, interest, and attention to detail in existence in a workplace until working at Trimco.

What a story! In closure, can you share with us more about where you see yourself in the future, and where do you think the industry is heading?

Laura: Hopefully a proud board member of Trimco Group and owning a vineyard would be quite nice.

The fashion industry in general has been headed in a more focused direction ever since Covid, where collections are no longer made up of a few trend pieces that tie back to a ton of basics to fill merchandising plans. More designs are made with a purpose, which makes me very optimistic for the future. In years past, fashion trends and low prices were the main business drivers. Clothing manufacturers are more than ever concerned with working with responsible businesses instead of chasing the lowest labor prices globally. The renewed interest in responsibility and sustainability will create better products that will wear better, last longer, and make customers proud to wear these brands with principles.

We never know where life takes us, but if we’d all be just a bit more like Laura, borrowing just a bit of her confidence, kindness and drive, we might or might not end up with a vineyard. One thing’s for sure, having Laura as part of our team it’s a pleasure and we look forward to many years with her onboard.

Join the team! Check out our vacancies.

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