As the previous creative director and now creative adviser of global fashion brand Banana Republic and designer of her own label, Marissa Webb has achieved her fair share of success in the notoriously tough fashion industry. We love inspiring women who fought to get to where they are, so if you need more inspiration read the humbling story of war orphan Michaela DePrince, too!
She explains, “At night we all slept together on the floor, and by day we kids ran around the streets unsupervised, taking care of ourselves by stealing or collecting things to take back to our father to support our family.”
After her mother passed away during pregnancy, and with an alcoholic dad unable to look after her and her siblings; Webb soon found herself being taken away to an orphanage. She describes how life there was even worse than where she had come from, “I was often hungry. There was nothing cosy or comfortable about it, just a lot of kids who were confused and probably frightened, and being looked after in a very basic sense.”
Marissa and her siblings were eventually adopted by a young couple in Pennsylvania where they were given new Western names, although Marissa’s date of birth is still unknown, “My date of birth isn’t recorded either, so my parents picked a birthday for me. I don’t celebrate my birthday and usually forget it, maybe because I don’t identify with the date. I think I recently entered my forties.”
Starting from the bottom
After growing up in the suburbs of Pennsylvania, Webb studied fashion illustration and design at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. She worked to pay her way through university, “There was no silver spoon,” she says.
Webb freelanced for Donna Karan, before interning, then working at Polo Ralph Lauren and J Crew. She started her own line three years ago, and the first store opened this January. She says, “People might think I’ve made it in fashion, and that’s humbling. But I don’t see it that way. I’m still learning. Hopefully, my story shows that success really is about how much effort you put into building your career.” It goes to show that if you really do want to be successful you need to go for it and start where you can, internships can be really important so read our article on preparing for that dream internship!
For more inspiring women why not read our article on Anna Wintour?