Getting your first job within the fashion industry can be an exhausting process, but 26-year-old Dior Bediako is determined to change that. Her company, Pepper Your Talk was created with a vision to help inspire young fashion creatives by making networking more fun and more accessible.
She’s a friend of Slapp and an inspiration to us all.
We sat down with Dior to discuss her ambitions for PYT, diversity in design and how to make it in fashun.
What inspired you to start Pepper Your Talk?
It was because of my own experience. I started my career at Burbury, having previously studied fashion in college. I did a foundation course at London College of Fashion and then did my degree at University for the Creative Arts. However, despite having completed my education, I still didn’t feel like I was prepared to go straight into the industry. So I looked to see what support was available for entry level employees and there wasn’t much. So I set up Pepper Your Talk to help offer advice on how to navigate yourself through the industry and how to structure an email or prepare for an interview, which are skills they may not teach you at university. We have a member’s club for people who have just started their fashion careers. We offer them a peer network, access to top tier fashion professionals through panel discussions and other information.
What have you learnt since starting up Pepper Your Talk?
It’s hard when you’ve been in education for so long and then just go straight into a corporate setting. Especially if you’ve studied fashion, you’ll end up being creative most of the time. Then you’ll go into a workforce, where there are processes to follow and rules you have to adhere to. So people have a real appetite for information and they do want support networks. They want to feel like their questions are important and their experiences are worth listening to. They want to find people that they can learn from.
What have your experiences been like within the fashion industry and how has it shaped you as a person?
It’s hard to describe, because it’s a really personal experience that you can’t explain, unless you’ve been through it. When I look at the beauty landscape, I don’t see myself and when I do it feels like tokenism diversity. I’m a Black woman and I can’t run away from it because it’s part of my identity and my lived experiences. So when I go into an office and I don’t see anyone that looks like me, it does make you feel like you’re not going to fit in, even if people have not been openly racist. I grew up in Tottenham, which is predominantly Black, but as I progressed in my career, I became a minority and I started to see less of me. I have always tried to bring people into my world, because I don’t want to create an environment where people are afraid to ask me questions. I just want to educate people and if they’re still ignorant, then that’s their problem.
What do you think of diversity in the industry?
It would be great if fashion was more diverse, but there is still a long way to go. However, progression is being made, so I want to look forward, rather than looking back. I want to champion the young girls that are doing really well, so that in ten years’ time it will become the norm, rather than the exception.
Why do you feel that diversity is important in the beauty industry?
I was looking at Stella McCartney’s Ankara prints in her latest collection. I feel with many of the designs, the storytelling hasn’t been included because the African woman has not been celebrated at all, despite wearing these designs her whole life. I believe the world is a creative playground and it’s okay to touch upon certain designs. However, it’s strange how the African woman has been erased from pop culture for embracing her roots, but it has become fashion only when it appears on the runway.
What is beautiful to you?
For me, it’s always been in a person’s willingness to share and to inspire. It’s about how much you can bring and how you use it to help others. I find it so heart-warming and beautiful. It’s one of the reasons why I love fashion, because you have the opportunities to share stories through it. It’s not just about the clothes, but about the storytelling and bringing people together.
What is your signature makeup look?
It has to be eyeliner, because I look tired if I don’t wear it! I feel like it complements my face shape really well. I’m still trying to find the perfect one, so I’m experimenting with different ones right now!
How do you stay healthy, body and mind?
I’m a Christian and if I didn’t have my faith, I’d be lost. I feel like the world is so anti-religion right now and people don’t really understand if you tell them that you believe in something higher than yourself. I go to church and will try and pray in the morning. I always have a sermon on in the background whilst I’m working. For me, knowing that my purpose in life is bigger than me and it contributes to the bigger picture; it’s what keeps me grounded, motivated and hopeful.
Who is your muse?
When I was young, I wanted to be like Naomi Campbell because I always knew that I wanted to work in fashion. She was the only Black person I could see on the fashion scene, so I wanted to own that space too. She’s done some incredible work, but for me, it’s what she represents as a Black woman.
If you could Slapp on one product what would it be?
It would have to be something that makes my skin look flawless. I’m a foundation girl and I love coverage. My skin’s not at that level where I can just slap on a bit of BB cream, so I need coverage!
What advice would you give for people looking to go into the fashion industry?
There’s no concrete formula to it. However, you have to decide that it’s something you want because it’s not easy. Once you’ve made that decision, know that your passion is what is going to help you get through. You sometimes have to change your strategy to help you get there. So if you decide to send lots of emails and you don’t get a response, don’t give up. Find the balance between being tenacious and being respectful of people’s time.
What's next for you?
The Junior Network and the Member’s Club for Pepper Your Talk has just launched, so we’re also working with the founding team to help create the best fashion network possible. Our motto is “No ego, no judgement”, so I just want to make it fun and bring inspiration back to the industry in a more purposeful way.