Just a few days before WordCast Conference kicks off, Leon St. Amour, creative director of Amazon Fashion and Alexandra St. Amour, creative director of Shopbop, took SCAD’s Museum of Art stage to share their industry stories and tell how they each landed at Amazon.
The night’s talk turned into a series of conversations centered around real world advice, where risk taking, getting ahead of your career and relentlessly working towards your best were major themes.
Alexandra stressed the importance of making the most of each experience, being confident in who we are in the creative field and to always strive for innovation. The two have impressive and lengthy careers, and met on the job when they both started working at Net-a-Porter. Since then the two have found themselves back together again at Amazon, but Alexandra charmingly cleared the air, “no, we do not work in the same office,” she said.
Leon always had an interest in fashion and publishing, which gave him the courage to start his career in the magazine industry at Vogue House, while he finished his graphic design degree in Central Saint Martins in London.
He mentioned how “the magazine world [then] was very different from what it is today, because now it has been disrupted by all technology and social media.”
After graduating he went to work with Tatler, another English magazine, where he discovered that leading with pressure helped him learn faster. He took his first big risk by accepting the position as Art Director for GQ Russia, which of course, meant moving to Moscow. The cold Russian temperatures didn’t keep Leon long before going back to London to work as Art Director ast Net-a-Porter and eventually launching Mr. Porter.
At the end of 2015, Leon relocated to New York to work for Amazon. He now is the Creative and Brand Director for Amazon Fashion in the U.S, where he is currently embarking on a redesign of the brand identity and site experiences. He finished the talk by reflecting back on his times of uncertainty and saying, “those moments forced me to challenge and stretched myself to have those incredible opportunities.”
Like Leon, Alexandra’s career path took unexpected turns. She studied graphic design at Ontario College of Art & Design University in Toronto, Canada and began her career as a graphic designer with Ronnie Cooke-Newhouse at the London fashion advertising studio, HOUSE+HOLME. On a whim, Alexandra took a job working with a music company, but after a year she realized that her passion was truly in the fashion industry. She later went to Net-a-Porter group as a designer in 2010 and after one year she became the Design Director for the Mobile Apps department across the group, responsible for all native apps and responsive web design projects, which she considered her second biggest risk. Currently, she is the newly appointed brand and editorial creative director for Shopbop.
The two reinforced the ideas of exploring fields and unexpected places, to be open minded and to embrace change, and to be prepared to relocate. Moments of rejection and failure are a given, but it’s about having a relentless drive and that getting something done is better than it being perfect.
Everyone in the audience listened to their experiences on taking risks in the design industry and wondered how we, too, could accomplish our dreams.
Their answer was short and simple “The harder you work, the luckier you will get”.
Written by Laura Ramirez
Photography by Angie Stong