When looking for internships, to put it simply, I was overwhelmed. I am sure many of us can relate to this feeling – a cloud of uncertainty and urgency pushing us to find the right internship. I searched on all the sites you can name, combing through hundreds of positions and trying to ask myself what would really be the right fit for me and my future. Something about integrating into a corporation or large advertising industry for my first internship did not sit well. Instead, I decided to research some local (Philadelphia) small businesses that could really use the help an intern provides and that would create a beneficial and comfortable work environment. Finally, I found Tonari.
Tonari is a small business located in Philadelphia that focuses on sustainability and ethicality in the fashion industry. The two founders began their journey in college in 2018, sewing and up cycling vintage clothes for their classmates and peers. A women-owned, sustainable fashion business – what could be a better fit for me? After meeting with the founders, we decided that this internship was a good idea for us both.
Interning for a small business like Tonari poses some difficulties, but also many benefits. Let’s all face the elephant in the room – you are most likely not getting paid for the work you are doing. This can sometimes seem discouraging, but these are the times in which we have to ask ourselves – do we care more about money or experience? For me it was a no brainer. The lessons I have learned from working with two aspirational, ambitious, and hardworking women making their way in the fashion industry have been invaluable and can be in no way compared to monetary value.
So, what do I do day to day? Mostly, my days consist of taking product content, checking email and social media engagements, collaborating with the founders, and brainstorming new ways to catch audience attention. Breaking it down, I do a lot of styled photoshoots, which I then transform into a catchy Instagram post and/or an email campaign to gain clicks. I am able to observe the inner workings of a true small business, the pros and the cons, and the determination of women working towards something they believe in – a more sustainable future.
During my internship thus far, Tonari has experienced some exciting milestones. One being a social media collaboration with Temple’s fashion sustainability club, Thrift and Flop, in which Tonari did a story take over telling their story and their current work. Another, and by far the most inspiring, is Tonari’s recent invitation to New York Fashion Week in the fall. Being a part of this company as they reach various goals and see their company bloom has been quite the experience.
So, if you feel that an internship with a small business can benefit you, I am here to tell you to go for it! Although it may be different than the traditional internship, you can learn valuable lessons from being so close to the passion behind the company. Personally, I have experienced a redefinition of perseverance.