Career Code: Reformation's Yael Aflalo on the Most Common Work Mistake
In honor of Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power’s new book, The Career Code: Must-Know Rules for a Strategic, Stylish, and Self-Made Career ($17), we’re running an interview series featuring 17 questions (in honor of the book’s 17 chapters) about the work lives of the most inspirational female leaders in the fashion industry. So far, we’ve tapped Lauren Conrad, Sally Singer, Candice Lake, and more. Up next? Yael Aflalo.
We’d be hard-pressed to encounter a stylish girl who isn’t a die-hard fan of Reformation’s flirty, wearable pieces. Since 2009, the Los Angeles–based brand has not only been making the world a more well-dressed place but also been paving the way for sustainability in the fashion industry. Using vintage surplus and sustainable fabrics while incorporating better practices throughout its supply chain, Reformation is producing garments that are lessening fashion’s environmental impact on the planet. And Yael Aflalo, the woman who started it all, continues to guide the brand as it grows and wins the undying affection of more and more women.
As founder and CEO of Reformation, Aflalo has learned a thing or two about starting your own company as a young woman, turning it into a major success story, and changing the world. And we were lucky enough to get the chance to ask her all about it.
Keep scrolling to hear Aflalo’s inspiring story and get invaluable career advice straight from a woman at the forefront of the fashion industry.
“I started up Reformation, and basically my job everyday is to lead the troops to keep making what we do even better.”
“Maybe that I’m still really hands-on, literally. I’m in every fitting, pinning each piece to make sure it fits just right and looks beautiful. If it’s not perfect or something looks weird, we don’t make it.”
“I’ve kind of been my own boss since I was 20, so I never really had that big first job interview. But I would suggest a great dress and a leather jacket so you feel good but also still feel like yourself. No stuffy suits and especially no suits that make you feel like it’s career day in school.”
“Probably Elon Musk. He began his career with a startup and has since built something that is innovative and revolutionary for our earth without compromising aesthetic, which has always been my goal with Reformation. Also, I may or may not be interested in getting on the waiting list for that new Model 3.”
“I read The NY Times and TheSkimm every morning. Girls at the office fill me in on stuff during the day, and I’m on my computer and power-scrolling through Instagram at night recapping anything I may have missed.”
“I would say going so long without realizing I was part of the problem with fashion. I started another clothing brand before Reformation called Ya-Ya that had the typical fashion brand business model—manufactured overseas and the cause of tons of waste and pollution—but it took me a while to see that firsthand (when I finally visited China on a work trip). I learned so much from my experience with Ya-Ya; I just wish the realization that I could be part of the solution would have come earlier in my career.”
“Someone who’s insanely smart and the best at their job, understands our brand and what we’re about, our goals and vision for the future, [who’s] not afraid to rethink how the fashion industry does certain things, and just an honest, hardworking, no-bullsh*t type of person who wants to be part of an awesome team. Bonus points if you’re pet-friendly.”
“Busy. Also, I’m very pregs right now, so probably snacky.”
“Take a vacation.”
“With gratitude. Appreciate what you learned, and know what you want in the future. Kind of like with breakups.”
“I have totally bipolar eating habits. I’m either having a green juice and salad/macro bowl from Café Gratitude or a burger and fries from In-N-Out, depending on what I’m craving or my mood.”
“Being afraid to speak up. Don’t be a pushover; share your opinions, ask for that raise, and take full advantage of the opportunity you’re given.”
“My morning ritual is washing my face, throwing on a stretchy dress, and I’m out the door. Then I have a call in my car while I’m sitting in traffic, and arrive to the office early so I can get at whatever I’m working on that day. I’m kind of a pro at time optimization. As far as the evening, I’m usually home super late from work and wind down with dinner.”
“My dad moved to the U.S. at 28 with nothing and spoke no English. He retired at 45 and has been living the dream ever since. He never told me all my dreams could come true if I worked hard enough. I just always knew that from looking at him.”
“We just opened Reformation Bridal Studio! It’s a pop-up on Melrose where women can have a private appointment to try on our wedding dresses, hang out, and drink champagne.”
If you could ask the founder and CEO of Reformation one thing, what would it be? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to shop Reformation’s new arrivals (they’re really good).
Opening Image: Katie Friedman