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Maia Wilson

For students interested in visual merchandising, Amanda Costello has a career path worth taking a few notes on.  She began her schooling at Florida State University, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Merchandising. Upon graduation in 2010, Amanda began her career at Carter’s in Atlanta, GA first as a Assistant Merchant then as a Visual Coordinator. In 2013 she was recruited and relocated to Dallas, TX for a Visual Merchandiser position with Fossil. Mid 2014 she was recruited by JCPenney’s for a Visual Merchandiser role for their Juniors and Women’s Contemporary brands. Currently she resides in Phoenix, Arizona, where she works for PetSmart as a Visual Merchandising Manager. Curious to learn more about Amanda? Continue reading and take a look into the exciting, collaborative career of a visual merchandising manager.

Some of our readers may not know what a visual merchandiser does. Could you provide a brief description of your job?

A visual merchandiser is similar to an interior designer, but the visual merchandiser is responsible for not only making the store look great but also driving product sales.

What did you enjoy most about being involved with the visual merchandising team at JCPenney?

What I enjoyed [the] most was being a part of such an iconic company. The collaborative environment of the company was great. I was able to learn from counterparts in different divisions, working closely with the young girls’ and young mens’ visual merchandising teams. {I was also able] to work with many other teams at JCPenney as well including the buying teams, product development, creative, and trend forecasting.

Have you discovered anything that you dislike about your role as a visual merchandiser?

I wouldn’t change much. [At JCPenney], I’ve enjoyed my role, [but] it would have been awesome to work with other products and brands rather than strictly women’s apparel.

As a visual merchandiser, what were your responsibilities on a day-to-day basis?

I was responsible for developing the standards and guidelines for Juniors/Women’s Contemporary apparel for the chain (1500 stores). I decided how to highlight trends, working hand-in-hand with the buyers. [Their] products were photographed, and a brand guide [was] made. A brand guide is a mockup of everything within your department and how it should be set.

What percentage of your career has been spent in-store versus in a corporate office?

60% of my time was spent within the lab store, and 40% of my time was in the home office.

What advice do you have for students who are interested in visual merchandising or any other retail career?

I would definitely say retail experience is a must if you are interested in being in visual merchandising. Multiple internships are always a good idea. Get as much experience as you can, especially if you are interested in fashion. For me, I started out in merchandising and realized visual was more my passion. If you don’t like what you’re doing, you can [always pursue] other roles, especially in the fashion industry.


Copy: Miles Cantrell, Careers Writer

Ashley Nudge, Careers Editor

Photo c/o Amanda Costello