The Best Soft Skills in Fashion? Believing in Emotions

Pills illustrations by Mary Mitchem for I’M Firenze Digest

“Don’t be afraid to let your light show. Just embrace it and let it shine”.
Valeria Russo, Emotional Coach, explains how approaching intimidating experiences with a playful attitude and believing in our uniqueness can take us a long way.
Discover here how to take extra “emotional pills” during your work day.

Pills illustrations by Mary Mitchem for I’M Firenze Digest


By Valentina Grigoletto. Images by Mary Mitchem for I’M Firenze Digest.

The world is going at supersonic speed, and dealing with the world of work in the fashion business today is sometimes a complicated challenge. How can we stay balanced, keep our self-esteem high and adapt to rapid changes?
We can achieve this by feeding our curiosity, seeing every experience as a journey, regardless of the outcome, and being aware of our uniqueness. Maybe the recipe for empowerment doesn’t exist, but Valeria Russo, Emotional Coach, has some strategic advice.
After 20 years of Emotional Client Experience in marketing in the Fashion and Luxury industry, she has been involved in corporate training for several years. And she is currently a tutor at Istituto Marangoni Firenze for Art, Fashion Design and Fashion Business programmes.
During Leadership & Soft Skills lessons, students are constantly encouraged to get involved and open up to their emotions to develop and enhance their communication skills, such as active listening, public speaking, and verbal and non-verbal communication. We asked her what soft skills we should focus on to face the future in the best possible way.
In today’s fashion industry, it is essential to communicate effectively and be flexible and prepared for change, which is constant and rapid, like fashion trends.

How can we prepare for this continuous transformation?

Through a strong sense of curiosity, which is crucial for our professional and personal growth. Adapting to change can be difficult and cause resistance due to fear of inadequacy. Curiosity helps eliminate judgment and allows for an inclusive approach, turning every change and challenge into an opportunity that adds value to our growth.

What is your advice on tackling exams and projects, both as teams and individuals, at our best?

I often tell students they should have fun and experience any challenge, whether an interview, an exam or a presentation, enjoying it and giving their best, regardless of the outcome.
They should not be afraid to let their light show; they just need the courage to look at it, embrace it and let it shine.

According to Daniel Goleman, psychologist and father of the Emotional Intelligence theory, “emotional intelligence is twice as important as technical skills”. So how do we bring it out, for example, during a job interview or when presenting a project?

At first, we have to be the ones who strongly believe in the value of our ‘soft’ skills!
We need to become aware of our uniqueness, of our’ x factor,’ of what makes us special, and then we need to know how to promote ourselves for what we can ‘be,’ not just for what we can ‘do.’
Often, however, we are the first ones to judge ourselves for what we do and how we do it without giving proper importance to why we do it, what really motivates us, and what we stand for. As Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do, but why you do it”.

When studying, it is easy to get distracted and lose motivation. Can you share some advice to help our students successfully navigate the school year and achieve personal and professional fulfilment?

Not just to focus on the destination, but enjoying the journey, regardless of the performance.
As they focus so much on the future and the outcome, they overlook the present, full of memorable experiences that can teach and enrich them in unforgettable ways!
Don’t let the fear of making mistakes or the anxiety of doing ‘well’ ruin this incredible journey. Who do they do it for anyways? And what does it even mean to do ‘well’?
We all have our paths and pace. I would like them to prioritise their well-being and consider what they do for themselves.
I would also like to tell them there is no such thing as ‘failure’ but only steps toward success. I see that they are taking great steps forward every day. If only they were aware of this, they would look at what they are and do it with pride and gratitude!

Valeria Russo teaches Leadership & Soft Skills and Communications strategies at Istituto Marangoni Firenze.
Valentina Grigoletto is Fashion Business Programme Leader at Istituto Marangoni Firenze.

Fields of Study
Fashion Business

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