Picture this: you graduate from college and land your dream career in fashion in New York City. You have wanted to work in fashion your whole life, and now your career is finally taking off. You’re inspired by your creative, innovative co-workers every day. It’s exciting to wake up for work, and you’ve never been more passionate about an industry you have loved for years… but then a global pandemic strikes the world and you are suddenly back home living in your parents’ house.
Oh, you are also furloughed from your job.
This is what happened to Madi Kahn, Jules Seelig and millions of employees worldwide when COVID-19 halted everyday life and permanently damaged the economy.
In May 2019, Kahn graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and Seelig from Boston University. They landed jobs working in Macy’s Corporate Executive Development Program in New York City, the heart of the fashion industry.
When the coronavirus hit, retail stores were forced to close and were deemed non-essential businesses by governors nationwide. With no physical stores open and exclusively selling their retail online, Macy’s sales plummeted.
Macy’s furloughed a “majority” of their 125,000 employees due to the coronavirus pandemic, including Kahn and Seelig.
What were they going to do now?
Sit around and feel sorry for themselves? No.
Swear off their love of fashion and pursue a different career path altogether? No.
They wanted to find a way to connect individuals in the fashion industry who may be in similar positions to inspire each other and share advice; thus the Haute Takes podcast was born.
Haute Takes is a weekly fashion podcast hosted by Kahn and Seelig. They discuss their journeys into the fashion industry, their experience being furloughed by Macy’s, as well as overall thoughts on how the fashion industry is evolving.
Shortly after hearing the news from Macy’s, Seelig called Kahn sharing her idea of starting a fashion podcast. She knew they had free time, direct experience in the industry and could serve as relatable figures for other millennials who had lost their jobs due to the coronavirus.
“When I first came up with the idea of it, I was feeling hurt by an industry that I’d always had a passion for,” Seelig said. “I had always worked in fashion and I had a love for the industry, and I knew Madi felt the same way. But I was feeling so hurt, and I could imagine so many people were scared and uncertain of what the future would hold in the fashion industry.”
Kahn was immediately in to do the podcast, and the two got to work putting together the details to create their show.
Both members of the duo said they were not confident public speakers, they had no experience editing audio and they were faced with the challenge of not being physically together due to social distancing. Despite the circumstances, they knew they were more than ready to start their podcast.
While Seelig took Adobe Audition lessons to learn how to edit audio, Kahn cultivated a creative strategy for their brand and Instagram page, and reached out to a friend who had started a podcast for advice.
After ordering microphones on Amazon, a five hour brainstorming session to pinpoint their podcast name and become audio editing experts seemingly overnight, the two released the first episode of Haute Takes on May 10.
While they talk about everything from how the coronavirus will change the fashion industry, how they personally fell in love with fashion and share their firsthand retail experiences, they also feature interviews with professionals in the fashion world.
On the Haute Takes Instagram page, @hautetakespod, they are keeping their community connected and informed through initiatives such as “Morning News Monday,” to share breaking news in the retail world, as well as “Sustainable Sunday,” where they highlight environmentally conscious brands.
They said they hope the show will serve as a uniting resource and support system for everyone interested in fashion, while also working as a networking platform.
“The future is that we want to bring in industry experts and people that are really cool in the fashion industry, either people that we met or know through a friend or get connected to who can give a more concrete answer of their experience in the fashion industry,” Kahn said.
Kahn and Seelig said they are passionate about fashion because they believe it expands way beyond just picking out outfits and works hand in hand with cultural movements and defining history.
“[Fashion is] a universal language for basically everyone,” Kahn said. “It makes people more confident on a day-to-day basis to be able to express themselves through clothes or through fashion, and it gives them something to relate to other people with. There are not many other topics or industries that are relatable to everyone and fashion is relatable to everyone.”
The two spoke about how it is more important now than ever to support brands you believe align with your personal values. They emphasized looking out for brands that promote inclusion and diversity, and have ethical processes ingrained in their company mission.
They also believe fashion can serve as a catalyst for self discovery, confidence and individuality.
“I was never someone who ever wanted to put my style in a box, and that has translated into me being an individual who never wants to put myself in a box, and that has been incredibly powerful in my life and I know a lot of people feel the same way,” said Seelig.
While Kahn and Seelig’s futures at Macy’s currently remain unknown, they said they will continue to produce Haute Takes no matter what.
The two are a perfect example of making “lemonade out of lemons,” and utilizing creative strategies to better oneself as a professional.
“[Haute Takes] was a love story to an industry that we were feeling a little bit hurt by, but a way to show that no matter what we are going through now we will continue to love this industry,” Seelig said. “It’s what we are passionate about, and we want to be problem solvers and work together to create positive changes in it.”