15 minutes with … Dior Bediako, founder of The Junior Network

Having confidence in yourself and your abilities in your career is always easier said than done, right? Well when it came to her career, Dior Bediako had had enough of her inner-saboteur and set out on a mission to create an informed and inclusive career hub for fashion students, graduates and young professionals. Enter, The Junior Network.

Building a long lasting career in the fashion industry is more than just ‘doing the work’, it’s about making connections, building your portfolio and boosting your knowledge. The Junior Network shares insights on the industry, whilst organising workshops and panel talks which create a safe space for members to share their career concerns whilst learning to develop key skills they will need to reach their full potential. We sat down with Dior to find out more about how it all works …

Tell us how you started The Junior Network – what were you doing beforehand and how did the idea come about?

Before starting The Junior Network I worked for Burberry in the PR and Marketing department. You could say I started the business for both selfish and selfless reasons. At the time I wanted access to a like-minded group of girls and mentors. Yet, I know so many young fashion professionals wanted the same too, so I did it for US.

Why do you think The Junior Network is crucial in today’s fashion landscape?

I’ve had so many senior leaders say to me “I wish I had this when I was starting out”. And now, the next generation have us – they have the network, the events, the advice, the mentorship, the sisterhood.

Who have been your biggest mentors that have inspired you in your career?

I have some brilliant women I can turn to for advice. Most recently I sat down with the CEO of The White Company and we had a great talk that pushed me to think smarter about the business. My forever icon is Oprah! I love a career woman that’s enlightened and in touch with herself and the world. Ah, Tyler Psarras is another woman in fashion with nothing but good vibes. Stop me, or I’ll keep going …. !

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

“Always listen to the confident, most secure part of you”. Short and simple but whenever I have a rough decision to make, I fall back on these words. If you allow fear to lead your mental conversations you stop being tenacious and daring.

Why do you think it’s so difficult for young talent to get started in the fashion industry?

I don’t think the fashion industry has built an interconnected system that truly supports, listen and encourages (the thoughts and ideas of) young professionals. It also saddens me to see how many young people don’t truly believe in themselves and what they have to offer. It goes hand-in-hand.

How does The Junior Network offer support to those looking to enter the industry?

The Junior Network functions like a one-year accelerator programme, in which our members are immersed in 12 months of learning and networking experiences to enhance them both personally and professionally. I think it’s very important that our ‘non-judgmental’ attitude runs through all areas of the business, encouraging members to be open to make mistakes, asking ‘silly’ questions and being open enough to speak about their ups and downs.

I personally work with every single one of our members to discuss and strategise ways to make their goals a reality. Anything from CV edits to boyfriend drama! Nothing is off limits because they aren’t just professionals, they are real people!

What are the most common questions you get from members?

Questions around confidence come up a lot. It’s a tricky one because someone can be very confident in one area of life but completely lacking it in others.

Money is another hot topic that we’re not afraid to discuss. One of our members just secured a big pay increase and says she couldn’t have done it without the advice she’s received through being a member.

You’re an advocate for strong values within The Junior Network – kindness, knowledge, aim for excellence, support, relationships & connections, integrity and resilience – talk us through these.

The fashion industry is notorious for b***chy, toxic behaviour, so from day one I wanted none of that to infect our culture! Our values truly speak for themselves and when you attend a TJN event or speak to one of our girls, you’ll quickly see these values in action.

If I had to pick my favourite of them all, it would be ‘aim for excellence’. I want our members to be excellent examples to the rest of the industry – in attitude and actions.

What would you say to someone struggling in their career?

Join The Junior Nework and we’ll help you work it out!

What’s next for The Junior Network?

Applications are currently open for our class of 2019/2020! We’re looking for a whole new group of amazing girls (and guys) to join the club, connect with each other and realise their wildest potential. This year the membership offering is tiered, meaning different needs and budgets are catered for. 2020 is going to be a big year for us! I have plans to host larger events that bring the magic of The Junior Network to many more people.

Best part of your job?

Knowing that it’s bigger than me! I’m coaching, mentoring, chatting with and generally building friendships with young people who will be the future of the fashion industry. That’s wild, in a good way! There is no true success without succession, so the people we lift up will be the proof of our hard work.

Want to find out more about The Junior Network and how to become a member?

www.pepperyourtalk.co.uk/thejuniornetwork

@pepperyourtalk / @thejuniornetwork

Push x

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