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Fashion World: Hard Work, Long Hours and Great Style

Omar Villalobos discovered as a young boy that he could change his mood by changing his clothes.

“I love the fact that you can convey your emotions through something physical,” said Villalobos.

Majoring in fashion business at Columbia College Chicago, Villalobos says he has always had a passion for fashion. He also found it curious the way people were influenced by fashion.

Photographer: Kirsten Miccoli.
Picture provided by Omar Villalobos

Now 21, Villalobos’s love for fashion and style led him to work at the Burberry store in downtown Chicago.

Villalobos sees Burberry as a classic brand. He tries to incorporate classic into his style to keep it timeless. He finds the qualities of the Burberry collections to be beautiful.

“They do not only deliver the best of the best in clothing,” Villalobos said. “They also deliver the best of the best in customer service, visual components in the company and in their employees.”

Josh Filauri, 22, a junior studying fashion photography at Columbia, said Villalobos is a great example of a very dedicated worker.

“Even though he just finished his internship at Vogue, he is now working at Burberry and interning in CS Magazine,” said Filauri. “He is non-stop, and I find that amazing.”

Filauri said he sees Villalobos moving out of Chicago for a brighter future.

“He doesn’t wait for it to happen. He goes and makes it happen himself,” Filauri said.

Villalobos got his start in the Chicago fashion industry when he became co-owner of GOCA designs, a women’s luxury line founded in 2010. During his time with GOCA, he helped with designs and worked alongside the co-owner to make the company grow.

After a year with GOCA, he decided his next step in the fashion industry would be as an intern with Vogue in New York.

Villalobos’s internship at Vogue began with an email in November 2011. He waited patiently to hear back from the magazine management but got no response.  After two weeks he decided to send out a follow-up email and then a month later he sent another. He waited two more weeks and sent another email, always changing up what was said.

After many weeks of anticipation, he received an immediate response to his final email. He ended up interning at the magazine from May 22 through August.

“It changed my entire way of thinking,” said Villalobos about his internship.

In New York, people were always rushing; he found himself pressed for time and working against the clock as well. “There was a different cultural lifestyle lived in New York from the one in Chicago,” Villalobos said.

During his internship, his mindset changed; he became more organized and instead of procrastinating he now considers himself “fast paced.” He learned to be more direct about what was needed in his work. He decided to sever his relationship with GOCA so that he could create his own brand and identity.

Following his internship at Vogue, he interned at CS Magazine. “It is an experience I will never forget,” Villalobos said.

Villalobos said his goal now is to intern in London at Burberry with hopes that he will work for Burberry after his graduation in fall 2013.

“He is going to be a marketing mojo!” said his boyfriend, Benjamin Cottrell, 29, president of Benjamin Cottrell, a high-end fashion show production firm.

“He is a very ambitious person who knows what he wants,” Cottrell said. “It seems like he has found himself and is on the right track.”

Even though both struggle with very busy schedules, which makes it hard to spend time with one another, Cottrell said he loves the direction Villalobos is headed.

Cottrell said Villalobos had inspired him a lot with his marketing skills. He has also taught him to not be so serious about his career.

Villalobos said his inspiration is his parents. Villalobos’s parents have worked hard to provide him with the tools to succeed, and he wants to show them how much he truly appreciates them.

Villalobos’s said his parents immigrated from Mexico and sacrificed much of their time and their life to see their family live a comfortable style life. He said he wants to make their sacrificing be worth the while in the long run.

He added on by saying all of his accomplishments and his efforts are geared toward making his parents proud.

“Omar has such an attractive personality,” said Tyler McDermott, 20, a junior at Columbia College Chicago. “He can communicate with anyone and everyone, and that makes him a very unique person.”

If there were a few words to describe Villalobos they would be “determined to succeed,” McDermott said.

He is not the only one who finds Villalobos’s personality appealing.

Rolake Balogun, 23, a fashion business graduate from Columbia College Chicago, is a friend who not only admires Villalobos’s ambition, but also his methods of giving advice and helping others continue in the industry.

“If there is a way that he can help, he will help,” Balogun said. “When he experiences anything, he takes me along on the journey.”

Balogun said Villalobos is good at giving advice and very supportive.

“Omar has told me ‘If you’re not going to be the best or try to be the best there is no point,’” she said.

Balogun said what brings them so close is their shared ambition to succeed.

“Our success is already known. It’s just a way of getting it,” she added

Villalobos said it is important to believe in yourself.

“It is about who you know and what you know,” he said.

Villalobos said his daily routine is to wake up, shower and give himself a pep talk.

He said he once watched an Oprah Winfrey show in which he was inspired to tell himself positive things. He tells himself to be grateful and appreciate every moment given in life.

He said believes it is important to love oneself and be confident in order to achieve life’s goals and dreams. Most important, he said, is to work hard and “go for it.”

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