We’ve been chatting a lot with influencers in the digital world and I am happy to announce that today we get a chance to pick the brain of the vice president of fashion powerhouses Vince Camuto and Sanctuary, Sonia Zarbatany. Grab your notepads, Sonia has an inspiring story to tell with lots of career insight.
Q: Briefly describe your background.
I was born in Morocco and raised in Montreal. I was groomed for the fashion industry from the day I could walk. My family business has been in North American licensees and distributors of International fashion brands such as Guess Jeans, XOXO, Kathy van Zeeland and more.
I have worked in every pocket of the fashion world—from fit model to administrative work, sales and management, and now, as co-owner of Zarby International and Executive Vice-President of Vince Camuto Canada and Sanctuary Canada. I have always had my hand in the business world as well as my fair share of other experiences.
I have other businesses that I develop alongside my main position; for example, and I am a partner at Flex Meals—a delicious and healthy meal delivery service. I am also a public speaker and life coach as I speak in seminars on how to find balance, live on purpose and take your career to the next level.
Q: What do you base the majority of your hiring on? Experience? Personality? Cover letter?
All of the above. Obviously, before I meet people, their CV and cover letter have to stand out.
Once, we get to the interview phase, personality definitely drives it home. I typically hire someone based on their confidence and attitude, work ethic, and desire to get the position.
I like to see someone who is dressed on brand and has taken the time to research my company and what we are about. In this day and age, where information is so readily available, anyone who wants a job anywhere, should take the time and go the extra mile. And, like I said, have great confidence and a positive attitude.
Q: How has networking helped build your career?
That’s a great question. A good network goes a long way. It is so important to know people in your field and to connect with them. Having a professional community is one of the best-kept secrets of the trade.
I try to get the word out when I give talks about how valuable knowing the right people truly is. Every day I meet new people that have significantly contributed to the fashion world or life coaching, and we lift each other up, we play off one another, we brainstorm creative and innovative ideas together. I mean, that’s what business is all about.
Q: How can someone looking to change careers break into a field with no prior experience?
First of all, it’s never too late to change it up. If your current career isn’t giving you the challenge or excitement you want, then switch it up. One way to break in is to work from the bottom up. It’s the long and hard way, but it’s tried, tested and true.
Another way is to just get out there and hustle. You can try recruitment agencies like 24 Seven, or you can network by connecting with people at events, on blog forums or other platforms that allow you to get your voice and ideas heard.
I think certain industries are harder than others, and experience definitely plays a large part in that and so do the right connections. So, if you don’t have the physical experience then be knowledgeable, be a trendsetter, and set yourself apart from the pack.
Q: Who is your business/career mentor? And what do you admire most about this person?
My mother has always been a positive and loving person. She has been a great mentor and guiding light to me in moments when I need her most. My father has also been a mentor for teaching me how to be tough, strong, and how to run a successful business.
Other mentors have been Tony Robbins, and Tony Litster, for getting me on my first stage and helping me develop my gift and fall in love with coaching. Bruce Makowsky for showing me how to sell and brand in the most powerful way.
Mentors are so extremely important to me. I’ve had many and will hopefully continue to meet more wonderful people who will influence both my way of thinking and my way of seeing the world.