Raj Girn: All right, so on with this week’s show, we are streaming it Branding & Marketing as usual. It is our third week that we do this particular episode and I’m going to be deep diving the concept of how leadership done right can create trust in what you’re marketing. To help me do this, please welcome to the show, Klaudia Capalbo, the founder of the newly launched organization, which we’re going to be talking about today, The Institute Of Fashion. And she’s also the regional director of the Fashion Group International Chapter in Toronto, a very long-standing organization that has chapters in seven countries with over 5,000 members worldwide.
Here is Part One of our conversation:
Raj Girn: Klaudia, my darling lady, thank you so much for coming on. I’m super psyched to have this conversation with you about all your insights on marketing, fashion, leadership and all that fabulous stuff that you’ve been doing for a number of decades now dare I say?
Klaudia Capalbo: I know, right? Well, thank you for having me. It’s always an honour and pleasure to see you, Raj, and everything that you do. So thank you for having me on the show as well.
Absolutely, my darling. So let’s just jump right in. Klaudia, here’s the thing, I want to bring everyone up to speed on a lot of the things that you’ve done so that everyone can understand why I feel that having this conversation with you is truly just the right person to have it with. So you have quite a diverse portfolio in sales and marketing and you’ve worked at prominent magazines like ‘Flare’ and ‘Hello.’ You’ve also worked at the Chum Television Group and at the NBA. Can you walk us through your milestones in this regard so that we can just kind of bring everyone watching, listening or reading this up to speed on your vast experience in this realm? Tell us your story.
Well, my journey has been extremely unique and I love sharing it because it really shows you how you can start in one place but it really is a journey in terms of where it takes you. And you really have to enjoy that journey because the things that you learn along the way are really just so important in every aspect of your life and your career.
“My journey has been extremely unique and I love sharing it because it really shows you how you can start in one place but it really is a journey in terms of where it takes you. And you really have to enjoy that journey because the things that you learn along the way are really just so important in every aspect of your life and your career.” ~Klaudia Capalbo
So I actually started as a math teacher, and that’s where my first journey started in mathematics. And then I had an opportunity to work with the National Basketball Association as a marketing coordinator. And you know, in all honesty, I knew nothing about basketball and never played basketball, but it was a skill set that I had that got me the opportunity and got me in the door, and I had started there for a few years thinking, I’ll do it for two or three years. Well I end up staying for nine years in total. So I traveled with all the basketball teams all across the world and did marketing, sales and media for them. And then after the NBA, I decided to try something different and I went into broadcasting.
So I worked for television for four years doing marketing, media and sales. And then from there, I went on to work at ‘Flare’ magazine, and I did ‘Flare,’ ‘Hello’ and ‘Lulu,’ and that was on the publishing side. So just coming up with really great opportunities for clients. I’ve always been really creative. It’s something that I’ve had since I was in high school, and so it was really bringing that creativity and being able to come up with really cool ideas and concepts to sell a brand within those different mediums. So whether it be sports, whether it be the programing it from television with ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ or ‘City Line’ or ‘Breakfast Television’ and then being able to do it from a fashion and beauty perspective.
And so I was at ‘Flare’ for seven years, and that’s where my love of fashion really geared up. And it was something that I was passionate about when I was younger and it kind of came full circle. So from that point on, I decided that’s the area I want to stay in. So in the last few years, I’ve really been focusing on being able to help. A lot of brands that are out there in becoming a marketing consultant and really helping them build their brand, brand awareness, brand logos and imaging, being able to market themselves out there and how to be able to stand out among the clutter.
Absolutely. And I think that kind of really does lend to just how diverse your career had been up to that point. Klaudia, I want to ask you this: I want to add another layer into some of what you’re talking about. You’ve also very smartly leveraged your sales and marketing portfolio to create an impressive mentoring and leadership profile also. You’ve added in fashion style and a bunch of other tranches as well, which I’d really love for you to talk further on. You’ve done teaching. You still do teaching. You’re teaching at Humber, Sheridan and Georgian colleges in the Greater Toronto area but for anyone out there isn’t in this area as well. And Seneca. I think you’ve hit them all up.
I made my rounds.
Absolutely. But in addition to that, you’re also, from a fashion and stop perspective, currently the regional director, as I mentioned off the top of the Fashion Group International in Toronto. So knowing all of this, that’s kind of housed around your teaching, the fashion and style component that’s been brought into the mix. I’d love for you to share what led to this desire to focus on leadership centric opportunities. That’s what I believe teachers are, and that’s simply your role in the regional directorship also of FGI. Talk to us a little bit about that.
Yeah, I think when I look at leadership, it’s always about like, I’ve always been a strong leader growing up. That’s something that was always innate with me. And I think it starts with self-awareness and really becoming a self leader because you can’t lead others unless you are strong within yourself. So I think that’s right. And to be able to develop that self-awareness and that self strength and inner ability to become a leader. And I think when I look at other people, part of the reason why I love teaching was because I loved being able to inspire others and encourage and find those qualities within others that they can build upon and be able to find strength in and be able to pursue. So that is something that’s always made me love teaching.
“I’ve always been a strong leader growing up. That’s something that was always innate with me. And I think it starts with self-awareness and really becoming a self leader because you can’t lead others unless you are strong within yourself.” ~Klaudia Capalbo
So being able to find opportunities where I can leverage that ability to do that and help others was always really key for me. So that’s why being able to teach all these students in different subjects. So when I teach at colleges, I teach everything from public relations. I teach fashion. I teach. I research. I teach brand marketing. So all these different subjects. But it’s really being able to see each individual students for their strengths and in their areas of interest and really helping them build the foundations upon that so that they then can become great leaders and excel in the areas that they want to.
And the same with with FGI. I remember when I joined up FGI and at the time Roger Gingrich was the regional director. And I remember saying to him, it was like two years ago, I said, “How do I get your role? How do I become the regional director?” And he said, “Well, in about two years, I’m going to be stepping down and there’s an opportunity there.” So my focus, my goal, was to take over that organization. And so everything that I did in terms of being present in all the events and understanding the organization, how they do it, their monthly events and initiatives and the creativity behind it was really being able to lead into that role. So once I became the regional director and I really handpicked the people that I wanted on my board, and I did that specifically because I really wanted to get the best individuals in the areas that I needed to be fulfilled.
So, the person in PR actually comes from a PR background, the person social media works in social media, the person doing sponsorship stuff, is from sponsorship. So everybody that’s in their roles have the best strengths and abilities to bring forward within those roles. And one of the things I said when when I announced my board, which was back in January of 2020, is you have a great team when no one knows who the leader is within that team because they are all such strong leaders within their own right. And that’s really what’s really important. So that’s really been my goal in terms of having the organization is really being able to have such a great team and seeing the qualities in them and pushing those qualities that they really shine, that no one really knows who the leader is of that organization.
“That’s really been my goal in terms of having the organization is really being able to have such a great team and seeing the qualities in them and pushing those qualities that they really shine, that no one really knows who the leader is of that organization.” ~Klaudia Capalbo
Wow I love that perspective. It’s actually quite an innovative perspective because when you think of leadership, which we will be deep diving a little further on as we get through our conversation together, you think of somebody that is like the light bulb, so to speak. You know, the person that everything else is done around. I love your idea behind it, where leadership for you is to uplift and empower the team around you. That’s magical.
Absolutely. It’s me being more behind the scenes. That’s really what it is for me. For me, it’s being more behind the scenes and letting others shine and making them all leaders within themselves.
Love that. I love everything about what you just said. I feel that everything that you’ve done in your life that you’ve just finished talking to us about has led to this very serendipitous place of the Institute of Fashion just launched it recently. So first of all, a huge congratulations on such a brilliant launch. I can’t wait to dive into that a little bit. What was it about this that you felt that this is what you wanted to do and you wanted to do it now? Like, share that with us.
It took a little bit of everything. So my love of fashion obviously was a huge part of it, but also just kind of seeing what’s been going on within our fashion industry. Obviously, when COVID hit, so many people were impacted and so many lost their jobs. It was really very devastating to our industry. The doors shut at a lot of brick and mortars that were struggling for so long, and so many were really struggling just to survive. And so for me, I was looking at opportunities because we saw a little bit of a trend of different things. We saw a lot of businesses really suffering and trying to survive and struggling through those two years. And then we also saw a lot of people who are at home during COVID who weren’t able to go to work and weren’t able to do things.
So they were taking workshops. They were really being able to to find ways of being able to learn new things or being able to increase their knowledge and skill set and and invest in themselves, whether it’s investing themselves mentally with their health and wellbeing, or whether it was investing themselves in terms of a career advancement and learning new skills so that they would be prepared once COVID finished. So we saw quite a bit of that and I thought, okay, this would be a great opportunity to create a platform where people can learn that skill set. And it’s a workshop. So it’s not a huge time commitment. You get eight hours. So it’s four weeks, two hours each, and it can be around any person’s schedule.
So if you have a nine to five job, you can do it in the evenings or on weekends. So it really fits to your life and your your schedule, and it’s a great way to be able to learn something new, learn a skill set that you may just want to do for personal interest. It might be something that you want to do, as maybe as a side hustle or something you want to be able to enjoy or maybe down the line, be able to to do and pursue. So it allows people that opportunity to do that within a very small budget because we try to be very mindful of that at under $500 for a workshop. And the other part of it, more importantly, is that it employs people who may have been out of work over the last two years because the instructors that are teaching these courses are people within that industry.
So the people that are teaching the styling courses are actual stylists, professional stylists that have been published in magazines. The person that is the group that are teaching the fashion photography are fashion photographers. The people who are teaching trend forecasting, do trend forecasting for a living. So it’s a great way of being able to make it a win win. I say, because the people who want to learn the skills get the opportunity to do so. And then the people who are teaching it get an opportunity to be able to make some income on the side during a really difficult time.
Absolutely. And what better way to learn skills than from people who are actually in the industry doing the work?
Absolutely, absolutely. The whole point of it is really to do a hands on. So it’s not just someone lecture or something because you can do that anywhere. It’s really someone teaching a concept, but then doing a hands on workshop that will actually get them to apply the concept that they just learned to reality.
So if someone, for example, is learning about styling, they’re actually behind the scenes with outfits showing how to be able to put patterns and colours together, how to style for different body types, and to be able to do measuring or styling so that you can identify different body types. So you’re getting all that hands on experience with a one on one instructor. And because it’s a virtual global platform, anyone in the world can take it and it can be something that you are able to do with a one on one instructor. So you’re not in a class of 20-30 people, you literally get that personalized one to one instruction, which is really key as well.
I love that. So for anyone out there who is interested in finding out more, can you maybe share a little bit about what some of these workshops are and how they can sign up?
Absolutely. So we have everything from fashion design. We have trend forecasting. We have image consulting, which includes closet editing as well. We’ve got the business of fashion, fashion photography. So we’ve covered it all. All of these different courses have some incredible topics within, so they’ll cover the history of fashion. We’ll cover sustainability as well. So there’s a lot of topics within those subjects that get touched upon as well being able to do social media influencing as well.
So if any of the people are interested, you can go on to our website. It’s tiof.ca. So The Institute of Fashion dot ca, or you can reach out on our Instagram page, which is also tiof.ca. And so you’re able to to do that. But once you go in, you can take a look at of all of our courses and once you register, it’ll take you into a form that you fill out. And then what we’ll do is we contact you and we find out what your needs are.
So, for example, if you love fashion photography and maybe you’ve already kind of dived into it a little bit but want to be able to do a little bit more with your skillset, or there’s a certain area that you want to be a little bit more of an expert on then being able to understand what those needs are and pairing you up with our right individual to be able to make sure that it’s a perfect match. So once we do that, then we introduce you to your instructor and then you and that instructor decide on the dates and times that you want to be able to do it. Once you’re done, your eight hours of completion, then you’ll get a certificate from The Institute of Fashion saying that you completed your workshop.
I love everything about what you said there. Now is this open to people around the world or is it just Canada-centric right now? Share a little bit with us.
It is. We actually already have students from around the world. So it is a global platform and the beauty of it is, because it’s global, it is based on aligning people’s schedules. And like I said, you can do it at any time, anywhere in the world. You can be sitting on the beach and taking a workshop course.
In all honesty, you could do a workshop course on the business of fashion while you’re sitting on a beach somewhere. That’s the beauty of it, is that you’re able to do that at any point anywhere around the world. And because it’s virtual, it’s there and with all the amazing technology we have nowadays that you’re able to connect with anyone at any point.
Absolutely. So for anyone out there who perhaps isn’t looking at being a student, which is what we’ve been focusing on thus far, but is looking at maybe being one of your mentors or teachers? Is there an opportunity there?
Absolutely. Please reach out to me and you can reach out to me at my Instagram account if you like, which is @klaudiasfashionfix and it’s Klaudia with a K. So @klaudiasfashionfix, or you can reach out to me at my email address, which Raj you can share with everyone. And we are always looking for instructors and not just in Canada. We are looking for instructors globally because we are a global platform. There are many languages that are being offered as well in terms of instruction. So if you are interested and have whatever language, if you want to teach in Italian, French, whatever it is, then you are more than welcome to be able to reach out to me. And we would love to be able to get you as an instructor for our courses.
Can you see me smiling? Everything that you’re saying is so exciting for me. Just a little bit of back story, guys. I want to share with you. The reason I’m smiling so much is not just because I think this is a great opportunity. Whichever side you’re coming from teacher or mentee or mentor. I’m smiling because I’ve known Klaudia for a number of years and I’ve seen her fingers in so many different pies as she mentioned teaching and marketing and sales and sponsorship and fashion. You know, A to Z.
And leadership positions and teaching positions. The fact that all of the above is what you’re going to be getting out of this institute is just tremendous. And kudos to you Klaudia, just taking on an industry that has really been beaten up badly and saying that this is where I want to be, this is where I feel the greatest value of all that I’ve accomplished is going to be this is the home that that it’s going to be. Let me ask you this: Who instinctually do you feel this institute should be targeting? Talk to us a little bit about that piece.
Yeah. And you know what? That’s a really interesting question because we’ve gotten quite a number of different groups. So we actually work with schools. So we work with a lot of schools and are able to provide it as part of their curriculum. So it does target students who are just passionate about the fashion industry and want to get into it at a high school level. And then we’ve also got the secondary group, which I call more of the millennials. Well, fashion, we want to be able to dive into it, but aren’t quite ready to commit to a university program or college program. So this is a great way to kind of get your feet wet and be able to take the workshop and learn the skill set without that commitment of financial commitment of going to college or university with all the courses in every semester and the workload by really being able to learn a lot of the fundamentals within the industry and seeing if that’s something that they want to pursue.
And then, interestingly enough, which I love are the ones that are already in other areas of business. And I get so many people that are in the financial and legal and so many different areas of business. And they just love fashion and they come to me and say, my parents, wanted me to pursue a degree in business. So that’s what I did to make them happy. But I really love fashion and I’m a lawyer and I work for a law firm. But I love styling and I love fashion. I really want to take it on the course. So it’s beautiful to see people who are maybe established already in a career working there nine to five. But it’s not their passion. They’re doing it because it’s a nine to five and it provides them the income. But their love is in fashion, so it’s a great way of being able to have them enjoy something that they’re passionate about and being able to learn something new.
And you never know. I have a couple of clients who actually do something as a side gig. Give me a little side hustle where they do closet editing and they do image consulting. I have one who’s actually a lawyer who works at a law firm, and because she always says to me, I never find anything that’s really interesting to wear. And when you go to work every single day, it always suits and it’s always very mundane and it’s nothing original, nothing fun. And how do I find that happy medium where I can find something really great to wear that’s a personal reflection of my personal taste without it being boring? So she actually took our image consulting course, and she’s learning all of the different aspects and ways of being able to make it a little fun, whether it’s a different type of shirt underneath. Or maybe it might be an accessory of some sort or a belt or it might be pinstripes, whatever it is. But she’s doing that so that she can help other people within her circle and being able to do that as a side business as well.
I love everything about this. There’s just so many different reasons that people can come in and so many different opportunities that they can garner when they leave, which I love. And the other thing I love about some of the things that you’ve been saying here is that this is not like going to university where you’re paying oodles of money to do probably 80 per cent of courses that aren’t going to be relevant to the actual job. And you do like 20 per cent that is actually going to take you to getting your first job.
Here we’re talking about an a la carte menu, which I love, where you pick and choose those elements that you want to do when you want to do them, how you want to do them, and you’re getting it one on one. I can’t think of a better opportunity to be able to learn skills than such a high-touch environment as this. So I want to ask you this: Klaudia, what do you hope that people get out of the institute and its offerings? What is the overarching vision and mission for you.
At the end of the day, I want them to feel that when they walk away, that they have learned something new, whether it’s a new skill set, whether it’s more confidence, whether it’s becoming a better leader, whether it’s being able to pursue their business, having that knowledge that they didn’t know about before. The beautiful thing about it is because you are being instructed by people who are in the trenches who are actually in the industry, you get a lot of firsthand knowledge and firsthand experience that they can share with you to say, “Well, when I was in the industry, this is what was important to me. This is what I learned.”
These are some of the things that they will tell you because the thing is that when you go to college or you go to university, you learn a lot of things from the textbook. There’s a lot of which is great, and that’s really important to learn. But you don’t get the life experiences. And I think that’s what we bring that you don’t find at school. It’s those life experiences that people don’t tell you. It’s the struggles that people don’t tell you. It’s the life lessons that you may not learn. But if someone tells you those things, you’re like, it’s a great mentorship to be able to learn from someone who’s been through it and has experienced it firsthand and can help you be able to navigate through that.
And I think it’s a wonderful opportunity also for people to pursue their passions because, for example, I’ll give you mine. One of the things I always want to learn is how to cook. I’ve never been a really great cook. I mean, to say, I’m going to tell you right now. But one of the things I really always wanted to learn was how to cook. So during my time with COVID, with everything closed down, I was doing so much cooking. And I used to hate cooking because I never understood it and it always looked very overwhelming and intimidating to me. But by me doing it, I was really being able to now feel more confident. I now love actually going to the grocery store and picking up the things that I’m going to make and making things from scratch and just making really healthy meals every night.
And that’s something that if you asked me two years ago, I would have never thought that I would be doing. But that’s it. It just ignites a spark within you and it ignites a passion, and it makes you want to be able to continue to learn because if we don’t continue to learn, we don’t continue to grow. I think that’s really important. So if they can walk away with a sense of growth in some area, whether it be something that’s personally inside them, whether it’s something that’s external, that’s a new skill, whether it’s launching a new company, then that just makes my heart happy because that’s all I want them to be able to do.
“It just ignites a spark within you and it ignites a passion, and it makes you want to be able to continue to learn because if we don’t continue to learn, we don’t continue to grow. I think that’s really important.” ~Klaudia Capalbo
Hear, hear. I love everything that you’re saying. I’m just so happy that you finally launch this, considering all the things that you’ve been doing to help other people’s initiatives all these years. So one last time, Klaudia, just let people know, how do they find out more about the institute?
So they can go on to our website. It’s tidof.ca and you’ll see everything. You’ll see the courses we offer now. Right now, we’re currently offering six courses, but if you take a look at the details of the six courses, they’re really jam packed with a lot of different subjects and information. So you could take a look and see which one, and you can also see a better certificate program and how it works.
And again, it’s completely global, so it’s anywhere in the world. So if you have friends overseas or anyone that you know that would be interested, you’re more than welcome to feel free to pass it on. But also the the wonderful thing is that it’s around your schedule, so it’s not cutting into your workday, it’s not cutting into your family time. It’s whenever it works for you. So you and that instructor work out a mutually agreed time and it can take if it takes you four weeks.
You know, I’ve actually had students who instead of doing it over a four-week period to get their eight hours in, they’ve actually done it multiple times a week and completed it within two weeks because they were just, I want to get started. I want to get my business going. So it’s really whatever the time is that you’re willing to offer and that instructor will work for you. And and once you’re done, then you’re ready to go. And and the other thing too, is that there’s a mentorship program, which I did mention previously, but there’s a mentorship program that once you take the instruction, you complete your course.
There’s actually a yearly membership that you can join, and it’s only $80 over a course of 12 months, which I tell people is less than Starbucks a month. And you get the opportunity to connect with other individuals who are stylists, fashion photographers, trend forecasters, influencers, social media experts and marketers and such. And so you get an opportunity to network with all of these people and be able to also seek out mentors within the areas that you need it. So it’s a great, rewarding program that isn’t just once you complete the course, you’re done. You can actually continue that learning and that growth.
I love that. So can you let everybody know where they go to sign up for their yearly membership? Is it still at the website?
Yes. So if you go on to the website, there’s actually a section called memberships and you can actually join their.