Creative Industry Studies Student and U.S. Navy Vet is Making Her Dreams Come True
Robin Cote is a Saulteaux/Sioux First Nations woman representing Cote First Nations and Standing Buffalo First Nations in Saskatchewan, Canada. She moved to the U.S. in 2006, where she joined the U.S. Navy and served as a Hospital Corpsman for eight years prior to working in the fashion and beauty industry and enrolling at FIDM.
What are some of the most valuable lessons you learned at FIDM? It's amazing to notice my own growth as an artist from when I first started FIDM up until now. I had struggled in the beginning because I was unfamiliar with the design programs in Adobe Suite. I had never used them in my life and it was all very new to me. I was intimidated at first and really hard on myself because I thought that I wouldn't be as good as some of the students whom were more advanced than myself. Every class I've taken was building me up for another and as I got more comfortable using the programs, I started having more confidence in my abilities, homework started getting easier and I started to better understand the meaning of "good design." Then it all became a fun learning experience. It was proof that as long as you are committed to your own success and are consistently trying to improve, you will indeed reach your ultimate best. I've had a lot of wonderful instructors along the way who encouraged me to never give up.
Are you still working as a stylist? I had my start in the fashion and beauty industries as a professional makeup artist almost four years ago. One of my first experiences in the industry was assisting my mentor, celebrity hair stylist, William Williams of The Rex Agency. His longtime client is John Leguizamo. A few years ago, John Leguizamo was in Los Angeles for a press junket promoting one of his new movies and I had gotten the opportunity to be his makeup artist for the day. It was an experience I could have only dreamed about up until that day. I was the happiest I had ever been and I knew from that moment forward that I knew that I found my heart's passion and wanted to continue pursuing a career as a stylist. Since then I have worked with various artists and have been published in multiple beauty and fashion magazines as either a makeup artist, hair stylist, or fashion stylist.
How are you enjoying the Creative Industry Studies program? One of the main reasons that I wanted to become a stylist was because I felt as though we Native Americans are underrepresented in the fashion industry. I wanted to make a difference and create a style that could appeal to the masses as a way to tell our own stories through fashion. I had an idea and I wanted to create a platform for emerging Native American designers and artist to showcase their talents. I was unsure as to which direction to follow. I initially applied to the Graphic Design program because I wanted to develop an online magazine and was redirected to the Digital Media department where I learned about the Creative Industry Studies program. This was when I learned that my degree plan could be tailored towards my ultimate goal of having my own online magazine. I was ecstatic. Every class I've taken has added to my development as an artist and has really opened my eyes to all the possibilities related to this industry. I feel empowered.
Tell us about joining the Indig Inc Marketplace team in Tokyo this summer as one of their Social Media Officers for an Indigenous Trade Mission. How did it come about and what are you most looking forward to? Indig Inc Marketplace was developed by a First Nations woman by the name of Heather Abbey. The business is based in my home province, Saskatchewan, Canada. Heather created her business model with the same intent on promoting indigenous art and creating a marketplace for sellers and buyers alike. We are a community of makers and the art itself is beautiful and it should be shared the proper way, through the proper avenues with people who understand the art and the meanings behind the art. I follow Indig Inc on Facebook for all the latest Indigenous news regarding art and fashion and saw a post about an opportunity to be involved with an Indigenous Trade Mission in Japan and thought it was a brilliant idea. I immediately applied and was accepted to be apart of the team as one of their Social Media Officers. It is a great opportunity for a cultural exchange between nations. This is history in the making and I want to be a part of it.
The Indigenous People Magazine that I've created is still in the development phase and I hope to launch by the end of the year. As an entrepreneur and media rep, attending this mission is beneficial in many ways. I love to network and the ability to collaborate with other forward thinking Indigenous women, who are also rooted in their culture and communities, will create endless possibilities.
FIDM is a military-friendly school. Can you discuss how you feel supported as a veteran on campus? From the first day I walked through the doors at the FIDM Campus in San Diego through my transition to the Los Angeles Campus, the staff has always gone above and beyond to support my education path as a veteran. It is because of the staff and especially Patricia Martinez, who is the VA Education Benefits Coordinator, why I love this school so much and decided to continue my education here. FIDM has developed a support system for its veteran student which has been essential to our overall success. The FIDM faculty and staff identified that we veterans are not the average student and may have other socioeconomic needs. The newly developed Student Veteran Center (SVC), which is an extension of Student Activities, created a safe space for veteran students to thrive. We have been able to connect with one another. We've become a family, so to speak. We encourage and support one another daily.