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Trendsetters at Work: Nordstrom Seattle HQ

Nordstrom, Trendsetters Fernando Colon/Sean Dutton

Creative concepting, designer interviews and photo shoots—it's all in a day's work for Qianna Smith, who is charged with reporting on the world of fashion according to Nordstrom.

As Senior Editor for Nordstrom.com's blog, The Thread, this fashionable multitasker writes custom content on the most coveted brands stocked by the noted retailer. Based in the style mecca of the North West, we head to downtown Seattle, where Nordstrom was founded over 100 years ago, and tag long with Qianna for the day.

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Nordstrom, Trendsetters Sean Dutton

How did you get started in your career?
I spent several years of my childhood in Germany, and while living there, my very creative mother produced runway shows for young and fabulous Berliners. Watching her work was very inspiring and ignited my passion for fashion and styling. In college, I went from dressing South Beach ‘it' girls for fun to actually catching the eye of the executive editor of Ocean Drive magazine. He encouraged me to go to New York Fashion Week, which was always a dream of mine. At 19, I found myself at Bryant Park backstage at Yigal Azrouël's SS '02 show, dressing none other than Elizabeth Jagger. As soon as I graduated from Florida Atlantic University, I moved to the Big Apple, and the rest is fashion history!

What is a typical day like for you?
My day starts by browsing WWD.com, DrapersOnline.com and Twitter.com for breaking industry news. Then, I will check in with my director and fellow blog editor to discuss our editorial priorities. The Thread creatively supports all of our fashion and accessory divisions on Nordstrom.com, so there's a non-stop flow of concepting, pitching and content creation. The latter part of my day is spent in meetings with our marketing and site merchandising teams. I'll then jump on the phone for a quick designer interview. Just in the last few weeks, I have had calls with Sarah Jessica Parker, Jason Wu and Nicholas Kirkwood. There's never a dull day!

Describe your work environment:
I'm surrounded by a wellspring of creative people. The amount of ideas flowing throughout the building each day is both energizing and inspiring. It's a real treat coming to the office each morning because we're spoiled by 360-degree views of downtown Seattle, and from 30 stories up, it is simply breathtaking.

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Nordstrom, Trendsetters Sean Dutton

Tell us about your office décor or creative inspiration.
Keepsakes and feel-good things are all around my desk, like a zesty scented candle and a photo of my love. There are sketches of both gorgeous high heels and stylish girls in Paris, London, Rome and New York, four cities I have worked in and adore. When I started at Nordstrom last year, my mother sent me a sign that says "passion for fashion." Stacks of our catalogs, Vogue, WWD and the Daily Front Row are plentiful for inspiration. There's a mirror too, for quick mid-day touch-ups.

Describe your office style. What do you typically wear to work?
I go for a casually glam look at the office—my 'can-do super girl' approach to life is certainly reflected in my style. There are over 100 dresses in my closet, so 95 percent of the time, I'm in one. I rock color and feminine prints all year long. Designer Lela Rose's philosophy on dresses absolutely resonates with me: "It is one zip and you're done!" I like to personalize my look with several bold rings, chunky and dainty bangles or a statement necklace. The final touch is a pair of heels, and the higher the better!

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The best part of my job is. . .
Intimately connecting our customers with the brands we carry by creating custom content. I write a column called Behind the Seams that gets the sartorial scoop straight from our most coveted designer brands. I've been able to take our customers inside the Fashion Week fittings for Hervé Léger with Lubov Azria, to the home of Nanette Lepore during the holidays, to model-casting with Rebecca Taylor and to the Grand Palais in Paris for a one-on-one chat with Carven's Guillaume Henry.

I never leave home without. . .
A few spritzes of Viktor & Rolf 'Flowerbomb' and a kiss from Mon Chéri.

What is your guilty pleasure?
Italian-made SHOES—bellissima! I can always find a reason to buy a new pair. Without a doubt, I have a serious high-heel habit. And yes, I've considered a 12-step program.

What is the best piece of advice you've ever received?
When I was starting my career, my father shared a quote by Confucius with me: "Find the job you love, and you'll never work a day in your life."

What are your travel must-haves?
My passport and adventurous spirit, a silk eye mask to catch some Z's in flight and my camera to snap all the photo-fab moments.

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Nordstrom, Trendsetters Sean Dutton

What is your go-to lunch?
Noshing with my fellow fashion influencers, Courtney Shaflik (left) and Nikki Grab (right) from our online women's Designer team, is always a treat. We'll share a few faves like lobster mac & cheese and asparagus fries at Six Seven or grab Italian at Barolo.

What are your beauty must-haves?
Cocoa butter for super-soft skin, Guerlain Lipcolor in Gigi 68 for a pop of color on the lips and Smashbox BB Cream with SPF 35 for a flawless glow.

If I wasn't doing this job, I would be:
Teaching fashion journalism. I have my master's degree from London College of Fashion. I could definitely see myself returning there to lecture the next generation of inspiring fashion writers.

I read these websites/blogs/newspapers/books daily:
My daily addictions include the Business of Fashion, Fashion Week Daily, T magazine and The Telegraph's Fashion and E! Online for my celebrity fashion fix.

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Can you share some advice for aspiring career girls?
Linking up with a mentor in your field of choice is a great way to take your career to the next level. A mentor will be able to share invaluable knowledge, contact resources and, of course, provide you with expert advice on the skills you need to excel at your profession.

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