VCFS Alumni Series: Matthew Biehl
Here at VCFS, we're one big family and that bond lasts beyond our years working on the show. Our alumni have gone on to do great things, using their creativity and ambition as driving forces. This is the first in a series of interviews with VCFS Alumni. We want to showcase the remarkable individuals who have contributed to the success of the show over the years and who can inspire all of us to pursue our passions!
Name: Matthew Biehl
Positions on VCFS: Independent Design Intern (2007-2008), Co-Creative Director (2008-2009), Co-President (2009-2010)
Current Job: Copywriter, Holt Renfrew
Current Location: Toronto, ON
See our interview with Matthew below!
Why did you decide to get involved with VCFS while at Queen’s?
I was always interested in fashion and I thought getting involved with VCFS would be a great way to meet like-minded students at Queen’s that weren’t necessarily in my program, and to also engage that passion for fashion that was so different than what I was studying. It was also a great way to break out of the Queen’s bubble and engage with different people and organizations in the Kingston community. I really think VCFS is able to make a difference for charitable groups in the city, while also being a source of entertainment and inspiration for both students and Kingston citizens alike.
Thinking back, what would you say was your favourite part about being on VCFS, or perhaps what is your best memory of it?
I think my favourite part of VCFS, consistently for the three years that I was involved, was the incredible people that I got to work side-by-side with to put on an incredible show and raise money for great causes. Everyone was united by their passion for fashion, dance, and VCFS, and were so committed to making every part of it a success. I’ve made lifelong friends through VCFS, and they are people I never would have met if I hadn’t been a part of it. A particular memory that stands out was a moment I shared with the Co-President and Head Choreographer where we huddled together before our last performance. There was so much relief, joy, and sadness that we had pulled it off with everyone’s help, but that it was almost all over. What a rush of emotions!
What have you been up to since your time with VCFS?
After graduating from Queen’s with a BScH in Biology with a minor in English Language & Literature, I was a little lost as to what career path I was going to follow. I tried out a summer position with the Ministry of the Environment, and while it was interesting and important work, it didn’t engage me the way I was hoping it would. I was still really interested and passionate about fashion and publishing, so I decided to move to Toronto and pursue a career in fashion editorial. After a couple years of interning at Canadian fashion and lifestyle magazines and networking with editors and PR, I got my first job as the Editorial Coordinate at FLARE magazine. I assisted the Editor in Chief as well as the Publisher, which gave me a unique opportunity to learn about both the creative and business sides of running a magazine as well as to hone my writing and editing skills. From there, I joined SHARP magazine as the Fashion Editor, and was in charge of all style and grooming content, from interviewing designer, writing fashion features, and producing fashion and celebrity shoots. The editorial world is small in Canada, and as much as I enjoyed my job at SHARP, I wanted to diversify my experience and so I left to take my current job as copywriter at Holt Renfrew. I still work on editorial and digital content for the seasonal Holts magazine and website, but I also get to work with other parts of the business on marketing messaging and initiatives. It’s a great learning opportunity and challenge as I’m writing from a new perspective and engaging customers in a different way.
Can you tell us a bit more about what your current position entails?
I work with the Fashion Office, Buyers, and Marketing team to hone the voice of Holt Renfrew across print, digital, and social content, as well as marketing collateral. It’s no longer enough to have simple messaging at a luxury retailer, you want to connect with and engage your customers in every way you can, and have them coming to you not just to shop, but for inspiration and information on what is most exciting in fashion, whether it’s a new brand, designer, or event.
Where do you see yourself, 5 or 10 years down the line?
I would like to continue on my current career path and eventually be in charge of content at a major luxury retailer or fashion magazine, either in Canada or abroad. Whether this is a content director role or a more traditional role Editor in Chief position, I enjoy getting to produce editorialized and polished content with a distinct point of view. The industry is changing so quickly, especially with the continued rise and evolution of digital and social, so it will be interesting to see how these roles evolve in the future.
Is there anything specific you’d like to see VCFS accomplish, either this year or in general?
Keep doing what VCFS does best! I think the group has a strong history of continuously improving upon year before, by raising more money for charity, putting on dynamic, creative shows, and further engaging the Queens and Kingston communities each year. And continue to make great friends and memories along the way :)