I left Portfolio Center in 2006 for an internship at the packaging design firm, Pearl Fisher. It was an incredible experience because it was a very small team and I felt like I was treated more as a junior designer and less like an intern. I learned so much in a quick 3 months and felt it was an incredible entry to being a designer in New York City. While I was there I heard about a position at the fashion house of Diane von Furstenberg. I had not considered a career in fashion, but it seemed like a great opportunity so I went to the interview. After 2 interviews, one with the designer herself, I was offered the job. I was blown away, nervous, excited and shocked. I started there in June of 2006 and my husband Nate, who was still studying Photography at Portfolio Center, moved up 3 months after. We started out in a small 2 bedroom apartment in the west village that we shared for the first year with another Portfolio Center alum (Erin Hall). We had a great time and still look back fondly on our roots in the city.
Nate accepted an internship with the photographer Rodney Smith and I got my feet wet as the only in house Graphic Designer at Diane von Furstenberg. Since it was a small, family run company I was able to gain experience quickly–I worked on all aspects of the brand… branding, packaging, wholesale and retail creative needs, campaigns, e-commerce, etc. It is hard to believe I started there when email blasts hadn’t really become something fashion houses did to promote their business. I worked directly for our Marketing Director and Diane herself. I am still amazed as I look back and think of the incredible opportunity I had… fashion shows, ad campaigns, fashion events… it really was great.
In 2008, I started to worry that I was too young to stay at one brand for too long… I needed more experience if I was to grow into a senior creative position. I accepted a job as a graphic designer at Armani Exchange. I had hoped that I would be able to learn more about fashion branding and marketing within another brand. My stay there was short as I felt I had taken a step back. Armani Exchange was a great place to work, but I didn’t feel challenged. I decided to take a brief hiatus from the fashion industry to explore agency life. I accepted a position as a Senior Designer at Electric Artists, a boutique agency specializing in digital strategy. My projects ranged from strategic conceptual initiatives to interactive games and widgets to full scale website development. This experience set the stage for the rest of my career. I developed an expertise in social and digital media early on by leveraging these new platforms to design innovative campaigns. My clients were American Express, Starwood Hotels, USA Networks and more. I was at a digital strategy agency at just the right time… innovative companies were starting to test the social waters on facebook… blogs were becoming something that every brand wanted to have… it was the beginning of the social revolution for brands and I felt like I was at the heart of it. I loved it, but I missed fashion. I never thought I was a “fashion girl,” but I was wrong.
In November of 2008 I was at work when I received and email from Diane von Furstenberg asking if I would consider coming back to join the team as her Art Director–I almost fell out of my chair–and 2 weeks later I accepted and joined the DVF team once again to start out 2009. In my new role as Art Director, I managed all creative and brand communication including ad campaigns, collaborations, dvf.com and social media. I redesigned dvf.com, developed DVF’s first mobile app and solidified my love of digital design. I was thrilled to be back “home.”
As time had passed Nate had also started to develop his career. His internship with Rodney Smith had been a good experience. He then went to work for Jay Zuckerkorn, a very talented still life photographer. He learned a lot about lighting techniques and retouching. He started to gain more and more clients and then he started to shoot for me at DVF and his career started to really take off. He began to shoot all of the still life product photography for the company and really fell in love with fashion as well. It is funny how life can take you places you never thought you would go.
In the summer of 2009 I had been promoted to Senior Art Director and was overseeing all creative for the brand. Nate and I had been married for 5 years and decided our new venture would be to start a family. In April of 2010 our daughter, Alexa Michael Kraxberger, was born. She was the best thing that had ever happened to us. We started to enjoy a new side of living in NYC–that of being parents. Balancing a hectic career and a child wasn’t easy for either of us, but we made it work. We loved being parents so much that after Alexa was just 6 months old we were pregnant again with our second. Being pregnant didn’t keep me from being very busy at work… so much so that I actually flew to China to shoot a DVF Ad Campaign when I was 6 months along. People thought I was a little crazy, but it was an amazing experience and I have a great shot that I will always treasure of me and my little baby belly on the Great Wall of China. It was an experience of a lifetime.
As great as being a working mom can be, it did present its challenges at a small fashion house… and I wanted the ability to focus on my kids a little more. I came across an opportunity to be the Web Art Director for Kate Spade New York, overseeing all online creative and initiatives for the brand. With a heavy heart, but a confident one, I resigned from DVF (at 8 months pregnant) and took the position. I was a little worried about taking a move that was not as senior as the one I held at DVF, but I hoped that it would just give me a chance to focus my efforts more on the digital space.
I joined the Kate Spade team in June of 2011 right before I had Hayden Alexander, our son. He was born in July so I took a couple months off and joined the team again in September. It was a great move for me. The company was amazing… a very fun, quirky and playful brand doing great things in the digital space. I had a great team and the collaboration and energy at Kate was great. I was really happy, less stressed and excited about what I was doing. I thought I could hang tight at a brand like Kate and make a bigger move in the future… the future ended up being a little closer than I thought.
In March of 2012 I resigned from Kate Spade and accepted a position at Oscar de la Renta as the VP of the Art Department–heading up all creative for the brand. I started in April and it has been a whirlwind ever since. I oversee all creative for Ready-to-wear and Accessories, E-commerce, Home, Fragrance and Childrenswear. It is an incredibly challenging position and I am a little excited and a little scared every day…. I think that is the best I could ask for. I feel like if you aren’t a little scared, then maybe its no good. You have to feel a little uncomfortable to do great things.
One of the most exciting aspects of my new role at Oscar is that I also started a childrenswear blog for the brand called George and Ruby. At Oscar de la Renta we are known for innovation in the digital space. Our SVP of Communication, Erika Bearman aka Oscar PR Girl, was an early adopter across all social platforms. In the Spring of 2012 when Oscar launched its Childrenswear brand we knew we needed to do something to help grow the business. I took on the role of being the voice of Childrenswear (moms!) in the digital space. I blog about my kids, fashion, life in new york, etc. It is a great way for me to merge all of my passions together and really have fun and experiment. It has been amazing so far and I feel like we are just getting started.
You can follow Marissa on her blog right here.