To say I have my dream job is a cliche statement, but it’s really true. I’m so lucky that I get to wake up every day and work 9-to-5 in my dream career. But it wasn’t always my dream career.
I wasn’t one of those girls who was always in love with fashion. I didn’t flip through magazines when I was a young girl, or have vision boards, or anything like that. To be honest, I was an athlete and I was always in a uniform. So no, fashion wasn’t always important to me, nor was it a dream of mine. I don’t think I really ever had a “dream job” when I was a kid.
But then my sister went to the Fashion Institute of Technology, and that’s when I started thinking. To save some boring details, I had always assumed that I wanted to literally follow my sister’s footsteps and attend FIT and eventually land a job in Sales or Buying. As I went through college (not at FIT), it became apparent that Sales/Buying was NOT the career path for me. Not only was I terrible with numbers (I’m getting better), but I also wanted to do something a bit more creative.
After learning that Blair Eadie was a Merchandiser for Old Navy, I began looking into what exactly Merchandising meant. Sure, I was a Fashion Merchandising minor, but my school didn’t actually offer “merchandising” courses because Merchandising isn’t just ONE thing (so I took Retailing, Fashion Research, Product Development, etc.). I don’t think I fully understood what exactly a Merchandiser’s job was. I didn’t understand why it wasn’t just one focus. Yet, for some reason, I knew I wanted it to be my career.
Now that I’m almost four years into my career as a Merchandiser, I think I have the knowledge to easily explain what goes into my job. And I am unbelievably thankful for the career path I’ve taken.
What does Merchandising/Being a Merchandiser mean?
To be honest, it can mean a lot of different things for different companies (direct-to-consumer, wholesale, international, etc.). I’m about to speak for my experience as a Merchandiser. As background, I work for our Collection assortment, which means we sell to wholesale accounts (think: Department Stores…and more) and not our Retail/Outlet stores.
As a merchant, I act as a liason between almost every single department at my company (Sales, Design, Marketing, Sourcing, Planning, Purchasing, QC etc.). My team is responsible for working closely with our Design team to create an on brand line, all while keeping in mind the numbers. We remind our Design team if something didn’t sell, then we probably shouldn’t be adding it to a future line. And on the flip side, we remind them if a concept did work, we should look at re-introducing it or coming up with a way to update said concept. We work closely with our Sales team to monitor what’s selling and keep a close eye on what they’re planning on booking for the current (which means almost a calendar year ahead) season. One of the best and most rewarding parts of my job is seeing the seasonal line from creation all the way through production.
What does a day look like for a Merchandiser?
No two days are the same (read about a week in the life of a merchandiser here), and there’s a big chance there are different meetings on the calendar pertaining to different seasons. For instance, right now we are wrapping up Holiday 2018 buys, working on Spring 2019 fabric, and about to start designing into Summer 2019. On top of that we have our Runway capsule, our active line, and another small, upcoming capsule. While it’s a lot to manage, it’s amazing how much people do rely on Merchandisers. In addition to helping create and manage the collections, we are also responsible for properly marketing our product, pricing out wholesales/retails for the line, tracking best and worst sellers, creating line sheets for collections, and so many other aspects.
To me, being a Merchandiser is the absolute best of both worlds. I get to see my business as a whole. I get to look at every side, particularly the creative and financial sides. My team is an integral part in making sure that seasonal collections are the best version of our brand. So I think Merchandising is a great path for those who are like me: Have a little bit of creativeness to them, yet also likes logistics. While I know I still have a lot to learn, I can confidently say that being a Merchandiser is 100% the career path I’m supposed to be on!
If you have any questions about my career, please let them below in the comments or shoot me an email! I’m writing a second post on this topic, and I’d love to include some of your Qs!
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