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From Small Town to Big Events

Visual Communications grad Moriah Robinson is Events Director for California Market Center.

Unique L.A. at the California Market

Growing up on a tree farm in a rural Oregon town, FIDM Alumna Moriah Robinson spent hours daydreaming about big city life and working in a creative field. Moriah, who received her degree in Visual Communication from FIDM, works as the Events Director for California Market Center (CMC). Located near FIDM in Downtown Los Angeles, CMC serves as the hub for West Coast fashion and creative industries. It is the heartbeat of the LA Fashion District. We recently caught up with Moriah, who shared her journey with us.

FIDM Grad Moriah Robinson

What led you to FIDM? Having decided to pursue a career in fashion during high school, and wanting to start as early as possible, I joined FIDM during the summer quarter, less than one month after graduating. 

The school was a bit quieter, with many students opting to start in fall. I went to the Career Center to see what kind of volunteer work was available and because there were less students on campus, I was able to score volunteer shifts I likely wouldn’t have been able to obtain so quickly otherwise. 

Volunteer work is an amazing way to gain exposure and network in the industry, and it was a valuable tool in sampling different facets of the business and learning what interested me the most. That summer I worked at a press event at Armani on Rodeo Drive, a brand launch in Malibu for Paris Hilton, a fundraiser at the Natural History Museum, and backstage at a fashion show featuring Kim, Kourtney, and Khloe Kardashian. 

This sparked my love for events and public relations and soon after I decided to pursue a career in that field.

California Market Center event with live models

Tell us about CMC and your role: CMC is the hub of the West Coast Fashion and Creative Industries, home to wholesale showrooms, events, creative offices, and businesses all connecting the DTLA community. Our iconic property was acquired by Brookfield Properties in 2017 and we’ve just completed an exciting $250-million redevelopment of the campus. 

As Events Director at CMC, I manage an incredible team of marketing and events professionals. Together we’re responsible for producing eight trade shows annually, including one of the longest running textile trade shows in the United States. We also develop programming and activations around LA Fashion Market, which occurs five times per year.  

One of our main objectives is driving wholesale buyers and attendees to CMC and the LA Fashion District as a whole. Outside of the fashion side, our team is also responsible for any events taking place on the property. We get to do a little bit of everything which makes working at CMC fun and diverse.  

The California Market Center in downtown Los Angeles

What are you most proud of as director of events at CMC? What are a few of the challenges you’ve faced? I’m most proud of the team we’ve built here at CMC. My team is everything.

I was hired by Brookfield Properties at the beginning of the redevelopment project, and I’ve been on this wild journey of transforming the building these past four years. I have never been exposed to a redevelopment/construction project of this magnitude, and we were faced with several challenges as we conducted the delicate dance of producing trade shows and events in a building under construction. It often reminded me of a duck seeming to glide effortlessly across the water while underneath its legs paddle furiously.

How did FIDM prepare you for this? FIDM comes with an incredibly vast network. I find it extremely valuable that many of the teachers are currently working in the industry.  This means as a student you are getting real-time information on how the business is operating. I can’t emphasize enough how important this is because it gives you a leg up by preparing you for the workforce immediately upon graduation. 

But it is up to the student to utilize all the tools that FIDM provides, so I implore every FIDM student to visit the career center, attend career fairs, network with other students, and ask their teachers for resources.

What advice would you offer a young person who is interested in a career directing special events? Volunteer, intern, and work as an event assistant to gain exposure to all the different facets of a career in events. This will help you determine what niche within events you’re most passionate about and give you invaluable insight into the many challenges that arise before, during, and after an event and how to problem solve them quickly. One word of advice I would give anyone entering the events industry is that you have to love it. Oftentimes the work can be tedious, laborious, and thankless and this can only be offset by a true passion for your craft. 

Anything else you’d like to share? In my free time I enjoy hot yoga, hiking, trying out new restaurants, or going to the movies. I also love traveling, and if I have more than a week off work you will catch me in another country!   

Learn more online at www.moriahgr.com and on Instagram @moriah_grace.

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