Some people mark milestones with photos. Other with cake or sweets. Marci Ien celebrates with purses. “They represent a journey,” says the Canadian broadcasting icon and The Social co-host of the clutches, handbags and totes she’s collected to remember moments like the start of a new job, her husband’s proposal and the birth of her children, Dash and Blaize. “Each bag has a story because they’ve come about because of special occasions. They represent a lot of the ups and downs, the journeys and transitions through my life.”
Such passion/obsession makes her the ideal national ambassador for Dress for Success’s new campaign “Success is in the Bag.” Dress for Success is an international non-profit that provides wardrobes for women looking for work. This campaign extends that to call-to-action to purses.
Ien, who is donating a leather Gucci bag, spoke to us about the collabo and her love of all things handbags.
Walk us through your purse collection so we can imagine it all! My first big purchase was Prada and it was black nylon and leather. Then came the Louis Vuitton carryall. I’ve had it for 20 years. I usually have it everyday because it can carry everything but the kitchen sink. Then there are a couple of Gucci bags; a couple of monogram bags. When my husband proposed, he gave me this really interesting Moschino, which is patchwork brown leather and almost looks like a work of art.
What do you think it is about a purse that pulls together an outfit? I actually pull the outfit around the bag. They are the first things I see when I open my closet! It’s a first impression, isn’t it? And when someone is well-dressed, it’s not even about what others think. It’s how you feel. You know when you feel good about what you have on and how you’re looking, you’re going to walk into an interview situation exuding confidence. Clothing does that, accessories can do that. And it sounds maybe trite to some, but it gives you a certain energy and people can feel that energy. It’s energy that somehow transfers through a handshake when you first meet someone in an interview.
What’s your advice for dressing for interviews? Wear something that makes you feel good and that you’re sitting and standing confidently in. I think colour is important too. We hear all these things about power colours. Really for me, it’s the colour that makes you feel powerful.
What about interview strategies? Ask questions about the company that you’re hoping to work for. It shows that you’re well-researched; you did your homework and maybe thought of ideas that you can bring to the table. Life experience goes a long way too and I do believe in honesty. If you’re coming out of some sort of bad situation, don’t get too personal, but I would disclose that. Disclose it in a way that shows your perseverance and shows that you are looking to work hard and the fact that you were down, but not out. Because that kind of perseverance goes a long way when people are looking at building a team. So I think life experience can play a part. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. We all go through things, but it’s the people who stand up after they’ve been knocked down, that’s the difference.
Any strategies you’ve learned from being on live television? I still get nervous! But it’s about finding a commonality. So if I’m interviewing someone and I know, for example, that we have kids around the same ages or they happen to love basketball or fashion [we just talk.] It’s building a conversation on a commonality and that helps a lot because then it’s neutral ground. And I like to have some time, before I interview people, to spend a couple minutes talking to them and also to say hey, “there might be cameras in your face but we’re going to have a conversation so when we do that, it’s just us.” And when the conversation becomes real, you forget about the camera. You really do. It’s something that’s learned, but believe me, I still get jitters and I do think that it’s a good thing because there’s still passion there. I’m curious.
Any advice that you wish someone had told you when you were starting out? Oh my goodness, so many layoffs. So many different cities that I lived in. So many people telling me that there weren’t job available. Kind of like right now. That it’s a tough industry. But know that perseverance and the tenacity would really pay off because sometimes I didn’t believe it would. And to know that to have faith in my skill and to know that also this is a forever learning experience. I think there’s something to be said for feeling that you're never good enough, there’s always more to learn. Twenty-five years later, I still feel everyday “what am I going to learn today? Who am I going to meet today? What interesting person that’s going to teach me something?”
You can donate gently used purses to the Success is in the Bag campaign until May 8. For more details, visit lovethatbag.ca.