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NuView Blog

Filtering by Category: Careers

CAREERS: ASSISTANT MERCHANDISER PROFILE

Maia Wilson

A successful alumna of UNT's merchandising program, My Le is as talented as it gets. During college, My was an avid member of Merchandising Inc., and completed not one, not two... but THREE internships in various areas of the industry. 

Her ambition and eagerness to learn is what landed her a full-time position with Leatherology, a leather goods company based out of Carrollton, Texas, at the end of her final internship. Since then, My's combination of experience in merchandising, product development, styling and e-commerce has been instrumental in shaping the expansion of Leatherology's product assortment, along with the growth of the e-commerce business in it's entirety. 

Recently, NuView had the pleasure of connecting with My Le at Whiskey Cake Kitchen & Bar in Plano. Today, we're giving you the low-down on how she reached her current position of Assistant Merchandiser at Leatherology, the pros and cons of her daily responsibilities, and why having a great boss/mentor is so important. 


Hi My Le! Tell us a little bit about your education. What led you to pursue a career in merchandising?

My name is My Le and I have a Bachelor of Science in Merchandising from UNT. What really drew me to merchandising was my mother, who was a seamstress. I admired her ability to piece things together and create something truly beautiful out of scrap. This really motivated me to begin my career path.

Where have you worked previously?

I’ve worked at several places before, primarily retail, waitressing to get me through school. I did some freelance graphic design - all self-taught - for small gigs. And I also did internships in between. I did three [internships with] the Bobbi Schwartz Group, Hub City Production, and Leatherology.

Could you elaborate on some of your internship experiences? What did you enjoy about them and/or what did you learn?

[Interning at] Bobbi Schwartz Group helped me become more detailed. Assisting a stylist helped me develop checks and balances. From picking up or returning the right clothes and checking them in and out. I understand [what it means to carry] the weight for the client and get the job done. I think that was one of my favorite internships that I did, other than [Leatherology’s]. Interning at Leatherology gave me the opportunity to explore the many different roles within the company. Working as an integral part of the team allowed me to learn all aspects of the product life cycle, from concept to production.

Currently, you are responsible as Assistant Merchandiser at Leatherology. What are some of the tasks you perform in this role?

My position Assistant Merchandiser involves wearing multiple hats. Some of my responsibilities include photoshoots, product styling for editorial photoshoots, and scheduling photography for web development and catalog. I also work closely with our Site Merchandiser to ensure image accuracy on site. Aside from styling and photography, I assist with product development. It involves regular interaction with our factory overseas, traveling, assisting with spec sheets, competitive research on product, price and color trends. I do little bits and pieces [of various roles], so [my job is] like a combination of everything.

What is Leatherology and what makes the company special?

Leatherology is an e-commerce leather accessories company. We are direct manufacturer that produces all of our own goods. We specialize in personalized leather goods, and all of our designs are designed in-house by the merchants! What makes the company special is the array of beautiful colors and designs we all work carefully to produce.

How would you describe the Leatherology customer?

It’s more of an affluent customer that’s a little bit older. The Leatherology customer is around 35 to 60 [years old]. Slowly, [the age demographic is] going down. We’re building a younger demographic now and that’s what we’re working towards. If you follow our social accounts, the [age] demographics are a lot different.

When you were in school at UNT, the digital retailing program was fairly new. How did you learn more about the digital retailing industry?

It was all self-taught through blogs and few conversations with friends taking courses. It sparked an interested because I knew the e-commerce business was booming, and I was like, I need to get on this! I researched e-commerce companies in Dallas, and DC International, our parent company that operates two direct to consumer e-commerce websites came up, and that’s how I learned about Leatherology and luckily I had friend from UNT who was working there to get me an introduction.

How would you describe Leatherology’s company culture?

We all work closely together. Even though there are different departments we all play a part on getting the job done! Our product and web team meet weekly to identify any open issues and projects we have going on so we’re all looped in.

Digital Glitch Fashion Show & My Le 018.JPG

How did you gain experience in product development? Did you really heavily on material taught in your college classes?

I didn’t take any product development classes while I was at UNT. I relied on learning as much as I could when I did the internship, and I just love making things, DIY, and taking things apart. I take inspiration from my mom [sewing], especially.

So, you interned for Leatherology first, and then were hired on full-time. Did you have a specific role as an intern?

Yes, my role was in Merchandising and Product Development Intern. Gaining that product knowledge is what led me to the position I am in now.

Tell us about work-life balance. Since Leatherology is a smaller company, do you find yourself putting in more hours to in order to accomplish everything?

I did in the beginning! It was hard, especially during the holidays but I love what I do. I’m [thankful for] for the new team members though. I don’t know what I would do without them! When you feel like you used to do a lot it helps to spread the workload and get that balance.  

Do you do a lot of product photoshoots during the week?

I do, when we have promotions. It just depends on the marketing calendar. My marketing director typically plans out yearly, and then my senior merchant delegates the tasks and assets that we need. So, this week they plan on launching a Father’s Day catalog, and we didn’t have any editorial assets yet so my job was to pick the selected styles that we would photograph. [I also] make sure that the items are monogramed, featuring the right kind of leather we want to feature, and that the inventory we photographed would be on hand by the time the catalog came out for the customer. It’s a direct mailer that’s going to be 16 pages [long]. We have a photographer that comes to us in our studio; he’s contracted. Right now, I’m my focus is on editorial so it’s a bit more fun. In the studio, there’s a creative energy that comes over you to get the perfect shot. Especially,  when you’re thinking of an idea for a flat-lay, or if you feel like there’s an angle [that would work well] either on product or on figure, [it’s exciting]. On model is eventually where I want to take Leatherology.

What skills and abilities do you rely on the most to succeed in this position?

Being able to take on multiple projects and handling issues as they come along and just a good work ethic overall.

Which classes were most helpful in preparing you for your current job?

Visual merchandising and consumer behavior.

How often do you travel?

Typically twice a year to China but it ranges if we have a conference or event. I was recently in China in January and then to New York for a leather show. Last year, I traveled to New York to represent our brand in a partnership pop-up shop called the Nude House. We collaborated with 15 other brands, and had our product in a store front for the first time ever. That was really exciting and it was a good opportunity for us [in terms of] brand outreach!

(If you're aspiring for traveling job...and the job you land doesn’t require you to travel, you should always just travel anyways.)

What do you find most rewarding about your job? What is most challenging?

The amount of exposure I have to all aspects of the business. Being in so many different roles, from being an intern, and then warehouse help, and then doing product development, and social media and press. The challenging part is not knowing what I’m really good at but in hindsight the challenge is more of an advantage to really help me determine what I really enjoy.

What kind of future do you see for the company?

I see a strong future for the company from a sales perspective. Sales are good right now, [so I think] Leatherology is going to be here for a while.

[Doing on model styling] is my future goal with Leatherology. I feel like that’s what’s missing from our website right now. It’s a little bit stark, so I want to transition from on-white photography to on-figure. I also want to implement stronger social campaigns, and bring more value to the team. The team's dynamic is constantly changing, we always have new people with a fresh set of eyes who are able to help us grow.

Leatherology does have internship opportunities. How can students apply?

The internship is about right-timing. We’re always looking for an intern, but this year we’re [specifically hiring] a fall intern!

My best advice when applying for a position is continuous follow-up. Whether it’s following up on your application, your introduction of yourself, always make sure to keep the connection going so when a position does become available you’re first to mind to bring in for an interview.

Intern applicants can send resumes to me: My Le: myl@dcius.com


CREDITS

Copy & Photography: Ashley Nudge, Editor-in-Chief

CAREERS: VISUAL MERCHANDISING MANAGER PROFILE

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.


CREDITS

Copy: Miles Cantrell, Careers Writer

Ashley Nudge, Careers Editor

Photo c/o Amanda Costello

CAREERS: INTERNSHIP DIRECTORY

Maia Wilson

So, you're progressing through your degree plan and have determined that you're ready for the next level of learning. The INTERNSHIP. Whether you are a rising senior seeking a "for-credit" opportunity for graduation, or a sophomore hoping to gain early experience for your resume, we know that searching for an internship can be quite time-consuming. At the end of a long day of classes and work, sitting down at 10:30pm to hunt for that ideal opportunity can easily feel like a job itself!

However, if you're one of those students who knows what you want to do, or at least what you're interested in pursuing career-wise, you're in luck! We at NuView want to make your lives a little easier, so we've created this reference guide to finding a retail internship in Texas. By now, we all know that Dallas is a retail-hub with many exciting companies headquarted just an hour's drive from UNT. With our internship guide, you'll now be able to see exactly which companies are offering what kinds of internship. You'll be able to determine which local internships match your interests in a fraction of the time!

Think you'll find our guide useful in the near future? Feel free to download our printable pdf version below, and save yourself the trouble of wondering who has buying, product development, e-commerce, etc. etc. kinds of internships. The answers are all there! 

Hope you enjoy! 

Internship Directory


CREDITS

Ashley Nudge

Editor-In-Chief / Careers Editor

CAREERS: PALM TREE BOUTIQUE MANAGER - DENTON, TX

Maia Wilson

Whether you’re a native, resident, or visitor of Denton, everyone knows of the historic downtown square. The place where you can casually stroll while enjoying a Beth Marie’s ice cream cone has a new addition. Located on North Elm Street, The Palm Tree boutique offers amazing contemporary women's clothing and accessories. This past week I was lucky enough to have a one-on-one conversation with store manager Ashley Rogers, about what makes this new retailer special.

Name: Ashley Rogers

Professional Title: Store Manager of The Palm Tree Boutique

University & Degree: The University of North Texas, Business


Who is your target customer?

We try not to pinpoint one group, so we keep our [market] between the age of 18 and 55. Our clothing and style accommodates both mom and daughter?

What would you say is the mood of the store environment?

The Palm Tree boutique is both inviting and fun. It is a source for contemporary young women’s clothing and accessories.                

What do you enjoy most about the boutique culture?

The ability for one-on-one relationships with customers as well as employees. It is so nice to know who loves and shops at your store, and know who works for and with you.

What is the impact of social media regarding The Palm Tree?

The impact and reach of social media is huge. We started our social media reach before we opened in order to introduce ourselves in Denton and get the excitement started for the store. Now that we are open, social media helps us connect to our customer outside the walls of our store. This allows them to see what we have, all the newness, and how to style themselves.

Can you talk a little bit about the balance between managing a brick-and-mortar AND online store?

Thankfully, we have divided ourselves management wise so that someone else manages the online site. This allows me to keep my focus on the store. Though I do communicate with the people that run the website, it is a minimal part of what I deal with.

What is your most and least favorite aspects of the job?

I am so thankful to work for the owners that I do. I love that my opinions and thought are not only heard but strongly considered. I have worked for corporate retail where you are told what and how to do everything from minimal tasks to large ones. Here I am able to contribute to processes and decision making in all aspects of the business. Outside of actually owning your own business there are very few places that will give you that. There is not anything I really dislike. With that said, if I had to answer, my least favorite thing is making the schedule, balancing my employees schedules to make everything fair is difficult.

Interview takeaway:

When planning the interview with Ashley, I was immediately impressed with her immense kindness and willingness to help me. In the retail industry, where things change in the blink of an eye, time is precious. I was grateful for half an hour of Ashley’s time, to understand a little more about what it takes to running a boutique. My takeaway? Take time out to get to know people, because it is those people who will be the ones to shop with you. As a firm believer in customer service, I can assure you that next time I need a new outfit, I will be heading over to Palm Tree Boutique.


CREDITS

Copy: Navya Kaur, Careers Writer

Fernando Zamarripa, Careers Editor

Photos: Courtesy of The Palm Tree Boutique Instagram

CAREERS: MARCELLA CO. OWNER PROFILE

Maia Wilson

Meet Marcella Jones Penn, a fashion show producer and designer from New York City who is now living in Dallas. In this week’s careers profile we will learn about Marcella’s background in fashion design, and how she made her dreams of creating her own collection into reality.


Name: Marcella Jones Penn

Professional Title: Owner of Marcella Co., Dallas, Texas

Degrees: Bachelor's in Fashion Merchandising and Buying, Bachelor's in Criminal Justice

Hometown: Buffalo, New York              

 

About Marcella Jones & Co. 

 

When and how did you become a designer and fashion show producer? 

I actually started producing fashion shows in 2013, [but Runway Dallas] was my first “big” show. I’ve always [been a designer]. [I find it fascinating how you can use] prints, patterns, colors and textures to express yourself. I started designing when I was 12 years old. I did some architecture in between the years but I’ve been dedicated to designing and producing shows lately.

What is the inspiration behind the style of your clothing?

When people ask me that question, I have to be completely honest. It’s God. It’s all God inspired. I love business, and I love business women who are dedicated and don’t take anything from anybody. The structure of business buildings and the women inside them [are where my direction comes from].

Photos from  Marcella Co.'s lookbook

Interview Takeaways:

Originally from the big apple, Marcella is a self-made businesswoman who is now living in the heart of Texas. What had first started as a dream, quickly became a company. Marcella Company is a contemporary women’s clothing line for women who are sharp, confident in making a statement, and don’t take no for an answer. Designing a range of dresses, jumpers, separates, blazers and suits, Marcella believes in only creating statement pieces. Her second and newest line is called, Marcella Sport. Although she described Marcella Sport as an “awesome accident”, her sportswear line has evolved into an athletically influenced line with a casual yet edgy feel.  

About Runway Dallas

Photos of Runway Dallas by Lachelle Scott

Interview Takeaways: 

As the creative director and primary producer for Runway Dallas, Marcella and 14 other talented designer premiered their latest collections on a chic and glam runway in downtown Dallas. Before coming to Dallas, Marcella was doing well at making a name for herself in the fashion design and show production industries. She wanted to be challenged by a change of setting, so she figured Dallas would be the perfect city to establish herself in next. Marcella is a dedicated, kind, and professional women with tons of ambition. 

Marcella moved to Dallas a little over a year ago, and began the production of Runway Dallas in October.  In order for the first event to be successful, she  knew she needed to find people who were willing to volunteer and work for little to no pay since all of the event's proceeds were to benefit St. Jude’s hospital. Fortunately she was able to find volunteers and emerging designers who were eager to gain experience and exposure. She was also able to find a couple more experienced designers who were willing to help her out. “We aimed for the show to be beneficial to all people in the fashion industry, not just for entertainment purposes. Whether it be the models, designers, makeup artists, or hair stylists, we wanted to provide them with a platform to express themselves and showcase their work. We invited all types of people to attend the event, including fashion buyers, bloggers, and others in the industry so that everyone could network and help advance each others careers.  

Career Advice

Models walk down the runway wearing Marcella's designs at a fashion show in NYC.

Models walk down the runway wearing Marcella's designs at a fashion show in NYC.

What advice would you give to someone who aspires to be a fashion producer or a designer?

Follow God and let him guide you. Don’t be afraid to take risk. Network with as many people as possible and trust in God. Be prepared for anything to happen, because we all know that the industry is unpredictable. You have to want it, [and make sure not to] lose yourself in [it]. Get inspired by other designers and create your own [style] and stick with it.

With the support and love from her husband, family, and fellow designers and friends, Marcella was able to make her dreams into reality. Currently, Marcella has a great outlook on the future, is ready to take on her next challenge of producing Runway New York.

View Marcella’s current collection on her website.

View the Runway Dallas Recap video, below! 


CREDITS

Copy: Amani Wells, Careers Writer

Fernando Zamarripa, Careers Editor

Graphic 1: Ashley Nudge, Editor-In-Chief

Photos c/o Marcella Penn

 

 

CAREERS: RIFFRAFF OWNER PROFILE

Maia Wilson

Meet Kirsten Blowers Stuckey, a University of Arkansas graduate who has a love for the lone star state and all things fashion. In this week’s careers post we will learn about Kirsten’s amazing story of how she turned one hundred dollars into a four million dollar business.


Name: Kirsten Blowers Stuckey

Profession: Owner, Creative Director, and Head Buyer for Riffraff Dallas, Riffraff Fayetteville, and ShopRiffraff.com

Location(s): Dallas, TX and Fayetteville, AR.

Education: University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

           Major: Interior Design

pic2.jpg

Who is Kirsten?

The ultimate list make of to-do’s, Kirsten Blowers Stuckey is a one of a kind, creative and self-motivated entrepreneur, with a taste for coffee and fashion. Listed as one of 25 People Shaping Retail’s Future in 2015 by the National Retail Federation, Kirstin constantly reinvents herself. By keeping an open mind and talking on new challenges, the 28 year old surrounds her with kind spirits, making her dreams into reality.

What are some things you like?

·      Disco Balls

·      Chubby Babies

·      Destroyed Denim + White Tees

Favorite Quote:

"Your journey has molded you for greater good, and it is exactly what you needed it to be. Don't think you've lost time. It took each and every situation you have encountered to bring you to the now. And now is right on time." - Asha Tyson

Riffraff THEN:

In early 2009, while still a full-time college senior, the 21 year old took a chance and opened a furniture boutique in Fayetteville, Arkansas. One early September morning, with a budget of $100, Kirsten visited every garage sale within the area to create what is now a million dollar business. After sanding, designing, dismantling, painting and rebuilding the furniture she bought at the garage sales, she slowly but surely created her first inventory.

In February 2010, Kirsten opened the doors to ‘Riffraff’ Home Décor and Fabulous Finds Shop in the east side of Fayetteville. While working weekends from 10-6, and racing back and forth from class and the shop, Kirsten was a one-man-show in her early success years. With one customer a day, she was terrified - still - and exhausted, but excited for what she would accomplish.  With the help of social media, primarily Facebook at the time, Riffraff was able to generate business. Not until she slowly introduced jewelry and gift items to the store's assortment did she start noticing a quick sell-through rate.

It wasn’t until July of 2011 when she began to see change. After moving locations into the Historic Downtown Square in Fayetteville, she found herself with a couple of built in clothing racks. Having no credit line and a tight budget, instead of removing the racks she took a chance and stocked-up the space with tops. The tops being the number one seller on the night of her grand opening, she then knew that sparks were about to fly. What had started as a home décor and gift store, Riffraff quickly grew to become a showroom, an apparel business, a company, and the brand they are today.

Riffraff NOW:

After a year of design, planning, and growth in followers, Riffraff then launched their ecommerce, SHOPRIFFRAFF.COM. But it wasn’t till 2013, that they perfected their look, and established their brand. With new office space, vibrant ideas, and constant innovations, the small boutique grew even more in 2014.

Today the six-year-old company is looked at by millions of people, and is known for their impeccable and customized customer service. In the year 2014, Riffraff grew their southern roots into Dallas as the third order of business. Located in Northwest Parkway, Riffraff Dallas is a trend forward women’s chic clothing boutique, with a distinctly southern flair. With a range from separates and dresses, and a focus in taking casual to cocktail, Riffraff is for the girl graduating high school to the mommy before kids. Offering lavishing accessories, shoes, and gifts, Riffraff is fun, poppy, and vibrant.

pic13.jpg

What was once a one-man show, rapidly turned into a fully-employed company. Riffraff interns handle everything from in-store merchandise and customer service to shipping and logistics. By having fun and keeping the company culture upbeat and positive, life at Riffraff will always be enjoyable.

The Riffraff team

The Riffraff team

What is your favorite part of the job?

“The challenges, the freedoms and learning that comes behind the business.”

What is retail to you?

“[Retail is] from the cup of coffee you have in the morning, [to the time you spend on Pinterest] at the end of the day. Retail is everything... so be ready to evolve. Not only personally but within your career.”

 

Want to know more about Riffraff?

Riffraff Website: http://shopriffraff.com

Kirsten’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kirstenblowers/

           @kirstenblowers

Riffraff Dallas Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/RiffraffDallas/

           @riffraffdallas

ShopRiffraff Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ShopRiffraff/

            @shopriffraff

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RiffraffFayetteville

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/ShopRiffraff

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/shopriffraff/


CREDITS

Copy: Fernando Zamarripa, Careers Editor

Graphic 1: Ashley Nudge, Editor-in-Chief

Photos c/o Kirsten Blowers & Riffraff social media channels

CAREERS: FASHION STYLIST PROFILE

Maia Wilson

Ana-Patino-Dallas-Fashion -Stylist-13.jpg

Meet Ana Patino, a UNT graduate and Merchandising Inc. alumna who has built a name for herself as a respected stylist in the Dallas fashion industry. While earning her degree in Merchandising, Ana interned at D Magazine where she discovered her love for creating fashion editorials. Known as the girl in high school who made "things that were cheap look super expensive," Ana always knew she was passionate about styling. She worked in the corporate world for several years, but at a certain point, she couldn't help but feel like something was missing. It was then that Ana followed her creative instincts and returned to a collaborative life on set with photographers, models, and of course, racks and racks of amazing clothes. 

In this interview, Ana tells us about her journey to becoming a fashion stylist. After starting off where she wanted to be, deviating for a few years, then making the decision to pursue styling full-time, today she is back and ready for more opportunities to come her way. As Ana explained, now she is "happy, at peace, and truly doing me." However, success as a freelance stylist did not come overnight. Only once she invested in herself and built relationships with other was she able to get the recognition and clientele that she deserves. Needless to say, Ana's talent shines through in her work, and we're certain you'll be  inspired by her story. Keep reading for more on Ana's experiences, advice for aspiring stylists, and lessons she's learned along the way. 


Name: Ana Patino

Current Title: Fashion Stylist (Freelance, Dallas-based)

Education: B.S. in Merchandising at the University of North Texas

Styling by Ana Patino

Styling by Ana Patino

What was your career path to becoming a fashion stylist?

I did an internship with D Magazine. I worked in the marketing and editorial department. I got into marketing because editorial was already taken at the time. Then, when I finished my marketing internship, [D Magazine] was like “Hey, we need some interns for editorial,” and I said “Yes, I’m there!” So, I interned for D Weddings. That’s where I got my first look at doing big shoots and productions, aside from Merchandising Inc. [where] we would do fashion shows in the spring and fall. After I did that internship with D, I worked in different places. I was a fashion stylist at Express part-time for a while until I found a job right out of college. Then, I got a job at Fossil. I always knew I wanted to do styling but I just wasn’t really sure how to go about it. I [thought], you know, what if I do marketing? With marketing, I had experience [due to] my internship. Marketing involves collateral, photography, and models, and [I thought] surely that [has to] count for something. So, I kind-of started going that route. After two years in marketing, I just really missed the fashion aspect of my job. So, that’s how I started styling.

About to enter the studio with models wearing Valentine's Day bridal trends

About to enter the studio with models wearing Valentine's Day bridal trends

Are you represented by an agency? How did you get signed?

Honestly, [becoming represented by an agency] was luck I guess. In my marketing job, I had met my would-be agent. We actually got to work together, and then she left the company and started her own talent agency. She had been a talent agent for a while. We connected and whenever she opened up her agency, I [asked] “Are you going to be representing artists?” And [she said] “Yeah, I’d love to.” With really no experience [or] huge portfolio, she took me in because she knew me, because we’d worked together. And the ball just started rolling from there. Previous to [that], I had done projects. I had interned. I had done what I could. When I joined the agency, [I] kind-of just learned on set. Then, it snowballed from there. Now, it’s [been] three years since then!

Many students fear that a career as a fashion stylist will not be as financially stable as some of the more traditional, corporate careers. Is this something you’ve experienced and if so, how did you overcome it?

Most definitely. Two years into my marketing job, I knew I needed to go back to fashion because I was starting to feel like I didn’t want to get sucked [into corporate]. My marketing job was a corporate job. But at the same time, I needed experience [with styling]. I didn’t have a lot of experience coming out of college, so I needed to do something. I actually juggled my full-time marketing job and my styling job for three years. I just recently left my marketing job about two and a half months ago in August. The reason I had been keeping both jobs was because of that [concern]. You know, the corporate world, stability… [wondering] what am going to I do? I guess you do overcome it eventually.

What were some of the first steps you took in order to establish yourself as a stylist?

I would say I’m in the beginning stages of being freelance on a full-time basis. But, I think when you are trying to pursue styling, at least the first one or two years you’re probably going to be working for free a lot of the time, only because you don’t have a portfolio. You have to build it, you have to build your style, you have to build your skill as a stylist. You have to build the trust that people are going to put upon you to do shoots, or fashion shows, or whatever the case may be. So it’s really going to take some time to get established, to get to know your work. I felt that after three years, my portfolio was a lot stronger than it was [before]. I felt like I had met with a lot of people. I networked a lot. So, I kind-of felt comfortable. I thought maybe [it] was a good point to keep working hard, but maybe I wouldn’t have to juggle as much. It took three years for me to feel that I was ready to move on and not be juggling both.   

Ana's portfolio

Ana's portfolio

Which areas of styling do you specialize in?

My baby - the one that I started with - was editorials and anything print. I love doing fashion show styling as well. Most recently - almost two years - I’ve been doing tv styling, so I [style] segments for tv. I also do personal styling. I just get requests, so that’s something I do. I don’t really market myself as a personal shopper, but when the requests come - if people like my work - I’m definitely open to working with them and helping them with their fashion needs.   

Ana talks Father's Day fashion on Acceso Total

Ana talks Father's Day fashion on Acceso Total

You majored in merchandising at UNT. In what ways has your education helped you with your career?

I think it’s helped a lot actually [by giving] me a lot of credibility. Now that I’ve been in the industry for a few years, [I’ve noticed that] many of the stylists I’ve met have been self-taught or they didn’t have any formal training or schooling. I think that having a degree in merchandising and being educated really helps [with] my confidence - just personally. I think people trust me more, and they [think] okay, this is what she went to school for. This is what she studied. She must know more than other people. Also, if [a corporation is] trying to hire freelancers, I think anyone with a degree is going to be up first [for those jobs]. Or, say that tomorrow I didn’t want to pursue a freelance career, I could always fall back on being an in-house stylist or doing something else. Most of the jobs that I’ve seen out there always require a degree. For me, my second choice is a corporate job... a fashion corporate job. They’re always going to ask for a degree, so I’m always thankful that I do have it and that it’s there.  

Can you describe the process of getting booked by clients?

It varies depending on what project I’m working on. [For example], with a print styling job - let’s go with a magazine. I shoot a lot for ON Magazine. The group is mainly the photographer, the stylist, the hair and makeup artist, and the model. I build a lot of my relationships, especially for print, through my photographer. So, it really starts with the photographer. If the photographer likes my [work], and if it [compliments] their client, [that’s how I get booked]. Half of the time, at least with print styling, it’s usually through the photographer. The photographer will say “Hey I’m working on this editorial.” The deadlines for the editorials are usually two months ahead of time. So we start brainstorming. We put the theme together. Either the editor has sent over ideas that they’re thinking [of] for [the upcoming issue], or [ideas for] whatever they’re going to be talking about. Then, we - as artists - also put in our own input and ideas. We really just work off of eachother. That’s the first thing that happens when I’m preparing to do an editorial.

Styling by Ana Patino

Styling by Ana Patino

What is your role in bringing the concept to life?

From there, my job as a stylist is to pull the clothes to tell the story. A lot of that requires research on my part, whether it’s online, physically going to the stores, or making calls to local designers. I’m constantly researching, and networking. It’s always good for me to know [which clothing providers will] fill the style or just have someone in mind for whatever project I’m working on. That alone takes a while... maybe a few days.  I would say [the time commitment] for an editorial depends on how many looks we’re doing. If we’re doing 6 looks, it could probably take a good 20-30 hours of a week. Once I [determine where] to pull the clothes, I call the stores and say “Hey, I’m working on this editorial.” It makes my job a lot easier when I’m [working] for a magazine, because [the partnership] is for credit for their stores. So usually they’re like “Yes, of course! We’ll let you use our stuff.” After that, I gather all the clothes. I put it together. I say okay, what do I want to shoot?

What does a typical day on-set look like?

We get on-set, and I usually do fittings first because typically I don’t get to fit the model before the shoot. [I just do that] to make sure everything fits, and if it doesn’t fit, I figure out what we’re going to do as a backup to fix it. From there, the shooting process happens. For an editorial, I’m usually at the studio all day long. It could be a 9-to-5, [or] 8-to-6 hour day. During post-shoot, I go through the clothes to [make sure] that nothing got stained or ripped. Then I organize it. I pack it up, and either ship it off to wherever it came from or physically go drop it. The last part I do is put together the credits sheet [of what the model is wearing in each look] that is actually going to go on the magazine photos.

How many projects are you working on at any given time? How do you manage everything?

 I am usually working on multiple. [I] have to prioritize. I work very well with to-do lists, so I just make checklists for myself. I start with whatever project is going to come first. Now that I’m doing this full-time, two or three [projects], is basically full-time work for the week. It’s not just me sitting on the computer. [I’m getting out]... there’s a lot going on. So, with three jobs I’m pretty much booked. I really have to prioritize and stay on schedule. Luckily I’m organized. [At my corporate job] we had a lot of deadlines, so I just learned to be very organized. I’m able to juggle multiple things at once.

Preparing to dress models for the Tinsley Radix Fall Fashion Show

Preparing to dress models for the Tinsley Radix Fall Fashion Show

Backstage at the Tinsley Radix Fall Fashion Show

Backstage at the Tinsley Radix Fall Fashion Show

What are some of the skills and personality traits needed in order to be successful in the field?

For a stylist [career], you really have to want it if you’re going to pursue it. You really have to believe in yourself. There’s no right or wrong way. Aside from [figuring out] this is what I want to do with my life… this is what career path I want to take, you also have to be honest with yourself and [ask], am I good enough? [Determine], is this for me? Because if it’s not, you might as well learn that in the beginning.

After that, then you definitely have to be willing to get out there and work for free because you don’t know how the industry works. You have to have an open mind about wanting to learn, and that also encompasses wanting to work in a good team environment. You have to be a good team player because [with] all photoshoots or fashion shows, there’s always teamwork. There’s always going to be at least three other people besides you. You definitely have to work well in the group.

As stylists, you’re also seen as style experts, so you have to be on top of what trends are happening and any special event that happens. Get on Women’s Wear Daily. Look for inspiration. See the new line. I used to not really pay a lot of attention to fashion week and what would come down the runway, but now that I’m a stylist I definitely feel the need to know about what’s going on. I tend to track presentations at least every fall and every spring just so I’m in the know. You are a stylist, but people really see you as a style expert, so you have to know your stuff. People are going to ask you questions and you don’t want to [say], “Oh, I don’t know.” You might lose a bit of credibility there. Definitely take some time to study your field and know what’s going on.

Styling is very hands-on. If you don’t know anything about sewing a button or faking a hem - anything that’s more hands-on [and] more [typical] of a design student - you really need to educate yourself because you’ll definitely need those skills on set. You [need to] learn how to pin correctly. You need to pay attention to the small details, [such as], oh, there’s a wrinkle. Everything needs to be perfect. [Beforehand] you don’t really have that practice of looking at every detail, but once you become a stylist that is your job. Your job is to make sure that the image or whatever it is that you’re creating looks amazing and perfect.   

Ana in between shots during the "Beyond White" portrait series

Ana in between shots during the "Beyond White" portrait series

What are some of the challenges of being a fashion stylist?

For challenges, I would say getting my name out there. I feel like it’s taken me a while, but eventually people started to notice my work. Another challenge [is that] people think that styling is a glamourous job. But, it’s really not. It’s actually pretty taxing on the body. You’re out all the time, you’re walking around, you’re carrying around bags, you’re steaming. You kind-of get a workout. Sometimes it can be tiring, especially when I have weeks [where] I’m working on two editorials. You’re definitely beat by the end of the week. You’re carrying around everything, [and] just the logistics of it [are exhausting].

What are some of the rewards?

Some of the rewards - for me, at least - [include] seeing my name in print. To have my name next to [anything I do] is always one of my proud moments. I’m always super excited to see the final images because it’s always nice to check-out [and see if the photo is] the way I wanted it to look. You know, when the model went in there and owned every photo, and the photography and lighting was amazing, and the hair and makeup was on point... And the styling! [You think about] when you were pulling and wondering, is this going to work?, is this not going to work?... and you see the photo and it looks great. You just feel like everything worked out perfectly. For me, that is very rewarding. It’s what you work hard for… for the idea or the story to come through... and if it does come through the way that it should, that’s the most rewarding.   

Styling by Ana Patino

Styling by Ana Patino

How would you describe the Dallas styling industry in comparison to those of Los Angeles, New York, and elsewhere?

Luckily Dallas has a lot of commercial work. But say, if you wanted to be a celebrity stylist, you probably wouldn’t get a ton of work here in Dallas. You’d have to go to LA. I think that depending on the demographic of [the city], you might make more money elsewhere. And if your family lives here, that’s a big decision to have to move. That’s something you definitely want to consider.     

How important is it to be creative in the field? 

You do have to be creative, and you do have to be willing to get out there and try things. People are going to trust you on-set with whatever [expertise] you have. And even if you don’t, you have to own it. In the beginning it’s really hard to decide on one jacket or the other. You second-guess yourself a lot. You have to [know], how am I going to work through this project? and, where am I going to gain this inspiration from? whether it’s magazines, the internet, or something you ate. Now [when I go to the store] I can definitely differentiate, and [think] this would be great to wear, and, oh my gosh, this would be great for an editorial. That’s the way that I think now. For me personally, I tend to get inspired more by the clothes first. If I see something, I just start to imagine the rest of the set, and the rest of the looks  It usually starts with one item of clothing and then I go from there.   

Styling by Ana Patino

Styling by Ana Patino

What advice would you give to an aspiring stylist in college?

Intern, intern, intern! It’s super important. I wish I had done more of that when I was in school. Study like other stylists out there. [Find out] what was their career path? What did they do? Obviously now that the styling profession is a little bit more mainstream and known of, there’s people that you can research and [find out] well, what did this person do? You learn a lot from that as well.

Networking is also super important. As a stylist, probably a third of my time - or sometimes more depending on the time of year - is spent going out to network. I attend a lot of fashion events. Whether it be the opening of a store, a designer coming in to town, a new collection being unveiled… anything. I usually attend all of these because people know people. Now, I get referrals from people that I know, especially from the Dallas area. So, it helps to really get out there. You have to get out there. And [it’s] not just networking. [It also involves] reaching out to people, whether it's a photographer, a hair and makeup [artist], or anyone you might admire. Don’t be afraid to reach out!   


To view more of Ana's work and to get in touch, visit her portfolio: www.anapatino.com


CREDITS

Copy & Graphic 1: Ashley Nudge, Editor-In-Chief

Photos c/o Ana Patino

CAREERS: SYMBOLOGY FOUNDER PROFILE

Maia Wilson

In an industry that thrives on fast-fashion, finding someone with a vision to create high-end, sustainable apparel is a light in the dark. Meet the founder of Symbology, Marissa Heyl. This “creative-in-chief” has one goal in mind: to create beautiful pieces of clothing that emulate high fashion and folkloric art forms, all while empowering women in developing countries. With a background in fair trade and a love for design, she is living proof that with a lot of passion and hard work, nothing is impossible.

 

Name: Marissa Heyl

Location: Dallas/ Fort Worth

Job Title: Founder of Symbology

University: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Class of 2007

Major(s): Anthropology and Journalism

 

What led you to the fashion industry?

I’ve always wanted to be a fashion designer. I just reveled in watching runway shows and going to the mall and things like that. What I love about fashion is that it’s wearable art. I love the fantasy and the artistry that goes into it. This focus I have with Symbology on integrating really ancient folkloric art forms into high fashion is something really exciting and different.

Tell us a little bit about the process that goes into creating for Symbology.

I’ll come up with a concept or a theme based on a motif that runs through various cultures, and use it as a basis for a pattern. We look at three different aspects: the colors, the silhouettes, and the print trends that are coming up for that next collection and we factor that into production. I always keep in mind what the opportunities and limitations there are when working in the communities. For instance, when we are working with Palestinian refugees in the West Bank we don't have access to the type of fabric we make most of our garments out of. So we have to keep in mind that when we are working with their embroidery, we have to use a base fabric that they have in stock. We design each piece with each culture, depending on what resources they have available. I think I learn a lot from the artisan groups and the different cultures. You learn a lot about what’s truly important, rather than the superficialities that pervade in American culture. my view is to take positive aspects from each culture and bring it together, not just for Symbology but in my own life.

There is such a human element to your work. Can you talk about that?

Whenever you have a piece of art, that is something that can only be created by a human being. There is a spiritual element to that item. There’s a history, there’s a story, there’s an identity behind it. That is something that really differentiates what we’re doing. It’s something that invigorates me as a designer. From an aesthetic and moral perspective, I love the craft and the art form. I love working hand in hand with the artists. The travel and the hands on collaboration with these artists is a really unique experience to have as a fairly privileged American. It’s really humbling to meet people of all different walks of life. It’s important to take a step back and think about the amount of influence we can have and the change we can create in the world if we make that effort. I think through my trips and communications with these groups, I am reminded of that.

What is the biggest struggle you face in the industry?

One of the hardest things is establishing yourself as designer, because what does that necessarily mean? I mean even Chanel started off in a very modest place. We’re using quality fabrics and creating really beautiful pieces. The addiction to cheap stuff that is not well made, is really toxic. I see that as really problematic and unsustainable. It really does a disservice to the heritage of fashion. So it’s more than just fair wages for me. As a designer, I want to see unique, colorful and different pieces. I wish people would really embrace fashion, and make it their own. That’s something I try to do with our designs at Symbology.

If you could give one piece of advice to a student, what would it be?

Well, what I have learned is that you can really pave your own path. You have so much [flexibility] and ability to create your own identity and career choices, particularly this day and age. Being in college, you have access to research and study abroad opportunities. That’s why you’re in college, to soak it all up like a sponge. Take that with you into your 20’s and 30’s and pick up different experiences. The kind of opportunities afforded to you in college are a great stepping stone, I really want to encourage students to take advantage of that and explore the opportunities. College is so much more than the classes, the student organizations and ways to engage with other students can be really exciting. My best experiences were outside of the classroom. I want to encourage students, particularly those who are more entrepreneurial, to really get experience and be empowered to start their own venture. A lot of times fear of the unknown prevent people from taking that leap, but if you have the passion for it, then go for it all the way.

It seems like in a world driven by consumerism, it’s time to take a step back and think about what matters. When speaking with Marissa, I was inspired by her ability to take her passion for her work and use it in a way to give back to the community. If you’re willing to put in the hard work, whether it’s something as small as starting your own blog or as big as building your own company, anything is possible. The point? Find what you love and run with it.


Marissa is recruiting interns for Spring/Summer 2016. Send a cover letter and resume to: marissa@symbologyclothing.com


CREDITS

Copy & Graphic 1: Navya Kaur, Careers Writer

Photos c/o Marissa Heyl

CAREERS: FOSSIL INTERN PROFILE

Maia Wilson

Founded in 1984, Fossil originally opened its doors to the public as an accessories store. Now, the company offers a range of women and men’s appeal, exclusive watch collections, accessories and footwear. Fossil represents authentic American culture, innovation, creativity, and optimism. Both a company and brand, Fossil is the pioneer when it comes to American vintage products. By designing watches and accessories for brands such as Michael Kors and Tory Burch, they have extended their creativity to represent something greater.

Being a prestige company, Fossil's corporate leaders are selective in who they choose as interns. With elevated expectations and a high GPA requirement, the company only selects the best. This weekend I had the privilege to interview UNT student, Marcy Plefka, one of the few Summer 2015 Product Development interns. Together, we discussed what it took for her to become and excel as a Fossil intern.

Marcy with Summer 15' Product Development interns

Marcy with Summer 15' Product Development interns

Name: Marcy Plefka

Hometown: Hurst, Texas

Major(s): Merchandising and Digital Retail

Introduce Yourself:

My name is Marcy Plefka, and I am a double Major in Merchandising and Digital Retailing at the University of North Texas. I interned with Fossil in their men’s watch product development team, so I was the fossil men’s watch product development intern.

How did you find the Internship?

[I first heard about the Fossil] internships when I went on the[Dallas] study tour with Mr. Last. We visited Fossil and I [remember] thinking, “Hey I would like to work here.” I heard the internship was difficult to get but I was up for the challenge. I was fortunate enough to get the internship after applying and I started the job soon after. There were not many positions in the DFW area for product development jobs so that’s why I applied.

How was your internship structured? What were your day to day duties?

We got an intern road map on day one. It [the road map] explained to us how we were to interact with our mentors, our duties and schedules. We had stakeholder meeting which set [us] up with different people in different areas of the companies.... Just to see what they did and how [their jobs] related to product development. [As an intern] I picked up samples, tracked them, learned how to price everything, and pulled selling reports. I also got to work on look books for men’s and women’s styles. I got an inside look as to how [a product design] got from [the designer's] brain to the stores.

Marcy's desk at the Fossil corporate offices

Marcy's desk at the Fossil corporate offices

Would you say the internship was fast paced, and were you taught along the way? If so, did the learning process ever make you feel overwhelmed? 

I actually came on a “LIP week” which is when we [established the season's styles]. This was probably the most inconvenient time to come in. Our mentors were really stressed out, and they didn’t have time at the moment to show me the ropes. But, luckily it was a 14-week internship so I got to see the production stages repeat themselves. [In other words] I got to see the different orders [for the] different seasons. At first it was a little bit overwhelming, but I ended up being able to connect all the dots. I wouldn’t say that it was fast paced. I just had to get the hang of it. Though, there [was] always [the chance that] something could happened or change. Say a client like Nordstrom wanted one of our watch designs, but they wanted it custom tailored so only Nordstrom could have it. [That could] add stress to our design team and make everyone move and change faster.

What was the company culture like at Fossil? Was it relaxed or more professional?

[The culture] was absolutely relaxed. The amenities that Fossil offers their employees were really cool. We would have "Re-Charge Wednesdays" which was like happy-hour with coffee. The dress code wasn’t strict. You could wear ripped jeans to work or sandals and t-shirts... you just [had to] look presentable. I always felt comfortable talking to everyone and I felt like I could always connect with anyone if I needed to.

What would you say is the most valuable piece of information you learned during your internship? What did you learn that you'll be able to take with you throughout your merchandising career?

The most valuable thing [I learned] would be just knowing when to communicate and how to communicate. Since everyone is always doing a thousand things at once, it’s good to check in with your boss or your co-workers and let them know that you’re doing your job. That's what my manger liked about me the most. I always checked in with her even without her asking [me to], just so she knew I was on [the task and] had it covered. Sometimes people get so busy and forget that they gave you a job to do, so it’s good to check in and reassure them that the task has gotten done. What I will take with me throughout my merchandising career is curiosity - always asking questions and doing something that’s a little out of [my] comfort zone. That’s something that I will forever push for and keep doing throughout my career.

Interested in pursuing a Product Development internship at Fossil? Check out https://www.fossilgroup.com/  and click on Careers for more information.


CREDITS

Copy: Amani Wells-Onyioha, Careers Writer

Photos c/o Marcy Plefka

Graphic 1: Ashley Nudge, Editor-in-Chief

CAREERS: RAW DALLAS SHOWCASE DIRECTOR PROFILE

Maia Wilson

In 2009, the founders had a vision, a vision to connect all artistic individuals within every community, city, and town… a vision where no boarders separated those with talent, and no boundaries existed to keep them from joining together in their creative diversity. RAW: Natural Born Artists, is a networking community that hosts events in over 60 cities across the globe. By creating a platform for the filmmaker, the designer, the painter, the photographer, and the musician, they bring the arts to people, and people to the arts. The artists and guests involved have the opportunity to connect, to appreciate, to hear, and to love. They are young, creative, and passionate optimists who are bold enough to inspire and impact the world though art. They are RAW.

This week I had the privilege to sit down and interview Sarah Badran, a UNT alumn and the RAW Dallas showcase director, at Café Brazil in Deep Ellum, Dallas. Originally born in the Philippines, Sarah moved to Texas when she was 8 years old. From an early age, Sarah was able to identify her passion for art and entertainment. Due to her experiences working in restaurants, various hotels, and at a music label, Sarah gained valuable people-skills that proved to be beneficial as a young professional. In 2012, Sarah brought RAW to Dallas. A competitive, strategic, and self-made businesswoman, Sarah has successfully grown RAW Dallas as the result of her admirably strong work ethic. 

Philly and Sarah NuView Photos 388.JPG

Name:  Sarah Badran

Job Title: Dallas Showcase Director

Hometown: Born in the Philippines  

University and Major(s): The University of North Texas – Public Relations

Minor: Marketing

Photo: Marcus Lopez Photography  

Photo: Marcus Lopez Photography  

What is RAW in your own words?

RAW is currently the world’s largest independent arts organization that focuses on indie artists within the first 10 years of their careers. We are a platform that provides artists with resources, opportunities, networking, and exposure. It’s really an opportunity to build community within each city and give local artists a voice.

Based out of California, RAW: Natural Born Artist, has been up and running for six years now. With a show every other month (six annually), RAW Dallas typically showcases about 40-50 new artists in each show, with hopes of spotlighting fresh creativity.

How did you land a job as a Fashion Showcase Director for RAW?

It’s really funny when I tell people this story, because sometimes they don’t believe me or they think it’s really crazy. But, [the job] was a post on Craigslist that I found. Initially, it sounded like a fake position. The authors of the post were looking for an art director in the city who’d be willing to work with different types of artists, and specified that he or she would make money by hosting different events. At first I was like, “Really?” And when I applied, I heard back almost instantly, which made me question the job even more. But what happened was, RAW had almost given up on launching the shows in Dallas. They had interviewed over 150 people for the position, yet they couldn’t find anybody [suitable]. The day I applied was the last day they where going to look for someone in the city. The process literally happened so fast that the next day I had a Skype interview with the CEO based in LA. After a week or so, I was flown to LA to train and see what RAW was all about [in terms of] the planning and execution of the show. I was so excited to bring the show back here because I knew Dallas wasn’t ready for the bomb I was about to drop on them.

Interviewer Takeaways:

RAW was something that Sarah had dreamt of, and spoke into existence. At only 24 years old, a few months before seeing the job posting online, she was driving the streets of Galveston when she thought to herself, “Why aren’t there enough events at which I can meet different artists?” And soon enough, everything happened as it did. Quite possibly, she was destined for this.

Photo: Marcus Lopez Photography

Photo: Marcus Lopez Photography

What do you like to do in your free time?

I enjoy being anywhere I can channel music, dance, or hangout with friends. I honestly don’t like to play around a lot. For example, I like to work during my days off.  Luckily, what I do is so fun. I get to go to fashion shows which I consider work and play.

Interviewer Takeaways:

Sarah likes to stay active. Recently she’s traveled to LA, New Orleans, and Atlanta. She explained to me that she loves to explore different arts within each unique city. Although music is her first passion, Sarah also enjoys watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians and engaging in social media.

What would you say distinguishes you from others?

Interviewer Takeaways:

To stand out, you have to be bold and unafraid of things. Having curiosity, a strategic mind, and passion will distinguish you from others. Sarah never gets content with what she does, and that’s what keeps her going in the industry. She is always looking for ways to improve and grow.

Tokened as the most connected woman in the city, Sarah said that her relationships didn’t happen overnight. She explained how in the first year of her career, she had to take initiative to attend different events, converse with people, search for people, and identify the movers and shakers in order to really build those organic relationships that would enable her to have a successful show.

Tell us about your first year after graduation, and how did it feel?

[Getting settled after graduation] has been a long, drawn-out process for me. I didn’t graduate until last year. But that was only because I was going back and forth every other year from school to work. I worked throughout my whole college career, which allowed me to pay my way. I believe that everyone has their own journey, and doing it the way I did - working while getting an education - helped me refine the knowledge that I was getting in school. It helped me appreciate and use my knowledge more effectively.

Interviewer Takeaways:

Sarah explained to me that she is far from home. With a mother in the Philippines and a father in Egypt, she didn’t really have anyone in the city to rely on for help, which forced her to be more independent. At the age of 24, she became a self-made businesswoman by launching RAW Dallas.

Philly and Sarah NuView Photos 337.JPG

How many shows do you have a year? How do you believe RAW helps rising artists?

We have 6 shows a year, and RAW provides a platform for artists to build organic relationships. It’s a way of networking, and a way to experience real-life art and real fans. I always try to go above and beyond for my artists, so I’ll invite A-list personnel to come and network, as well as secure media placement throughout the show.

What kind of artists do you look for when you’re developing a show?

I look for individual artists who will fit the theme of the show, and having a big line up in music is very important. For example, one rock artist, one pop artist, one hip-hop artist, maybe an R&B singer, will give me a wide range of music. With music, you need to have that “star” quality, and it’s definitely one of the most competitive slots in the show considering the fact that I can only put five music artists in a show (30 total in a year). As far as performing artists go, we are always looking for someone who’s really interesting, someone who will excite the crowd, and someone who will be visually engaging. I always try to make my shows very cultural and diverse.

How do you like living in the city of Dallas, and what are some of the pros and cons in terms of your job and personal life?

Interviewer Takeaways:

In the beginning of Sarah’s career, nothing was happening, and she was discouraged to the point that she wanted to move away. But in order to be successful, Sarah knew she had to be smart, strategic, and adaptable. Although she didn’t profit much from the first show, she was excited to seek out all of the opportunities the city had to offer. She described Dallas as a “big, small city”, because everyone knew each other despite the population. One of the cons about the city is “the system that [goes] against new growth”. She explained how Dallas has its group of “mean girls” who don’t endorse change. Yet, as an urban minority organization, she is determined to break down every door of adversity until she reaches her dreams.

What is your most favorite and least favorite part about your job?

I think the answer to both is working with artists.

Interviewer Takeaways:

Sarah enjoys seeing crowds, and being able to experience and support new artists. She loves the gratitude and appreciation she gets from the artists at the end of each show. On the other hand, one of her least favorite aspects of the job is the times when she has to “babysit” artists. According to Sarah, “one of the biggest [obstacles] that hold back artists in Dallas is their expectation of things to be handed to them. They don’t have a built-in work ethic.” She also dislikes when artists flake-out and waste valuable time. Regardless of the situation, “the show must go on”.

Tell me about one of your greatest accomplishments during your time as a Show Producer.  

The general catalyst effect in the engagement growth… and the number of women contacting me to tell me that I’m an inspiration, are my greatest accomplishments. Also, the fact that Dallas ranks number three in the list of most popular RAW shows internationally is amazing. Now it seems that the number one spot (currently occupied by Los Angeles) is more attainable  

Does RAW Dallas offer internships? If so, where can students get more information?

View flyer!

When I’m looking for an intern, I am looking for someone who is passionate about art and the city. I want someone who is knowledgeable about industry, someone who is a hard-worker regardless of the pay, and someone who can adapt quickly.

Can you share three tips for students who are perusing a career in the industry? 

  1. Be BOLD. Starting something from scratch wasn’t easy. In order to be successful, you need to put yourself out there, and let people know what you are about.
  2. Change your perspective. A lot of people normally focus on the negative. But if you change your perspective, it will do you wonders. Don’t let little problems get in the way of your success, and persevere through everything. Always stay positive.
  3. Follow your dreams. Never stop following your dreams.

Want to learn more about RAW Dallas?

RAW Dallas: http://www.rawartists.org/dallas

Instagram:  https://instagram.com/rawdallas

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rawnaturalbornartists?pnref=lhc

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rawdallas

CREDITS

Copy & Photography: Fernando Zamarripa, NuView Careers Editor

Graphic 1: Ashley Nudge, Editor-In-Chief

CAREERS: NORDSTROM INTERN PROFILE

Maia Wilson

Last week, I sat down to interview Nichole Fallis at Frosty's Diner in Denton.  She's a determined, focused student with big dreams of creating a product or company that will shake the ground of the retail industry.  This past summer, Nichole was one of the few students across the country selected to intern at Nordstrom's headquarters in Seattle, Washington. Although she told me twice that she's still not sure how she got the internship, one can easily understand how after getting to know her. She's humble, authentic, professional, and most importantly, she knows what she wants. Besides her stunning blue eyes, what I find most fascinating about Nichole is her never-ceasing, organic enthusiasm... something that is often hard to find. She proves that with enough passion and preparation, you can achieve your highest goals. 

Read on to learn more about Nichole, and uncover what it really takes to impress HR, land the internship, and excel in the office at one of the leading upscale fashion retailers: Nordstrom.  

Name: Nichole Fallis

Hometown: I grew up in military family since my dad was in the air force, so I’m from a lot of different places. My parents have lived in Helotes, Texas in San Antonio for quite a few years now so I consider that my hometown.

Major(s): Merchandising and Digital Retailing

Minor: Business

Where did you intern at? Which company and in what city?

Nordstrom in Seattle, Washington.

What was your classification when you completed the internship?                                        

Junior going into Senior year.

What was your job title? What department did you work in?                                                             

I was a Buying and Planning intern, also known as a Nordstrom Merchandising Group intern. I worked in the Skincare 1 Buying Pod. There’s two, so I was on team one.

What is the internship paid or unpaid?                                                                                               

 Paid

Part or full time? Exactly how many weeks?                                                                                        

Full time, 9-weeks. 

Did you have any previous internship experience? If so, what experience did you have?           

I did a local, unofficial internship with Austere magazine, but it wasn’t super professional. This was my first real internship with a real corporation at a corporate office.

What were the daily hours?                                                                                                                        

I worked a lot.  Hours varied. Some days I’d only work 8 hours. Some days I’d work 10 or 11 hours. It was a personal choice; I wasn’t being forced to stay there. Either I wanted to be there, I wanted to help… or I had stuff I wanted to work on and get done so I wouldn’t have to do it in the morning and I could work on other stuff.  The weekly hours varied. Some weeks I’d only work 40 hours and some weeks I’d work over 40.  Just depended on what was happening that week.

What was the dress code?                                                                                                       

Nordstrom’s really flexible with the dress code. You kind of have to gauge your pod and division. Cosmetics was actually a little more dressy. I’m not sure why. The denim buying pod always dressed really casual in denim, and tech was super casual wearing flip flops. It ranges, so you have to base it off the certain pod you’re in.

Did you feel like your workload as an intern was manageable? Why or why not?                        

It was manageable but it was just enough to be overwhelming. But, that’s how it is at a new job.

What were you responsible for while at your internship? Describe you day-to-day activities.  

I did a lot of stuff. One of the main things that the buying and planning interns did was go into this system called RDW and pull reports. For example, if my boss said “Oh I don’t think Kiehls is doing that good today,” then I’d pull a this-year last-year report and see how Kiehls was doing last year compared to today. I’d pull that information then give her a little brief over the actual breakdown of the specific numbers. There was also a lot of vendor communication so, if my boss needed me to call a vendor and ask a quick question since they weren’t responding by email, then I’d do that just to take it off of her plate. I also did other little stuff like comp-shopping during my free time. I’d scroll through Sephora and see the deals they had compared to what we had and see if some things weren’t lining up. 

What was your favorite part of the internship? Least favorite part?                                              

[In regards to my favorite part], when you’re at Nordstrom’s internship, they take you on all these different tours and you basically get to go to every different part of the company. So we went to the quality center, the call center, the studio. Honestly my favorite one was the quality center. If you have two feet that are different sizes, Nordstrom will let you purchase one pair of shoes that are two different size shoes. So there’s a lot of leftover shoes at the “Single’s Party” as they call it. So at the Singles Party in the quality center, they are really just trying to match all the singles together from all the stores in the U.S. and Canada. Also, when people buy fancy designer goods and return them, we can no longer sell them at Nordstrom full line stores. So, they go to the quality center and they inspect them, they refurbish them, and there’s actually a whole area where there’s a bunch of cobblers working and they fix the designer shoes and they’ get randomly sent to any rack store in the U.S. And they get sent directly to the manager’s office so that the employees can’t just buy them right away because it’s like Gucci, Chanel, and all these crazy products for really discounted prices that weren’t currently being sold but were very recently being sold. So, throughout the day the manager will randomly just place them in racks at Rack stores. That was something that was really interesting to me that I likedabout Nordstrom. The Rack is a true scavenger hunt, and seeing that side of it from the quality center was really cool.

[When I think of my least favorite day] there was one day when it was Amazon Prime Day. There was just this feeling in the pod that was a lot more stressful. It was a more challenging day, because we were kind of freaked out about what Amazon was doing and [wondering] how we [could] differentiate ourselves. It was like a really REAL day in retail. We were competing against Amazon. That was the gloomiest day. We were all just like “AHHHHH! Amazon is scary.” That was the day when it I thought “Wow, this is not just a fairytale.” 

What did you learn from this internship that contributed to your growth as a professional? 

This is such a broken record, but the importance of networking is crazy at the corporate level. Even though you’re there… you [still] have to network you’re a** off. Be a happy person in the work place because the people who aren’t stand out in a negative way and it’s not good. And just being a true team player and doing things like sending out a little email if you have ten extra minutes saying “Hey I’m not doing anything right now other than my intern project and I can help anyone else out that needs help.” People will come up to you and say “Oh my goodness, if you could just do this one thing…,” and it makes them so happy! Even if no one needs help, just the fact that you sent it out and to make yourself an option makes them think more positively about you as a new person who’s just come in.

Did your views on the retail industry change at all due to the experience?                              

Yes, because Nordstrom had us visit all of the different parts of Nordstrom, and we worked on the floor for a few days during the anniversary sale. I guess to me, I had always thought that corporate positions were the most important (which sounds bad), but I just kind of felt that way because it seems unrealistic otherwise when you’re not there. I thought, “Wow, I hope one day I get to work corporate.” I thought it was like this big thing, like a dream kind of. And then we’re you’re there you realize, yeah corporate’s cool but you can’t even have a job if it’s not for the people that make your job possible. It sounds really silly but, it’s just the idea that all parts are really important. Whether you’re in the quality center, in the fashion studio, or on the floor, they’re all truly equal and interdependent. 

Where did you live in Seattle while you were interning? What did you enjoy or not enjoy about your living quarters?                                                                                                                           

I lived in U District, which is where the University of Washington is located. U District is not as sophisticated as downtown Washington where Nordstrom is located. It’s where the college students live. It’s a little bit more grungy. Seattle has a ton of homeless people, and some of them do live in the U District. I didn’t have a problem with that, but I know that that made some girls uncomfortable. I guess that was one of the sadder parts because you see that they don’t have a place to live. We lived in the University dorms. Mine was in Mercer Court and I got stellar roommates, so it was pretty great. It depends on who you’re rooming with because if you’re rooming with cool people it’s going to be great not matter what location you’re in. I will say the people that didn’t live in the dorm were really left out of stuff because we would just go from our dorm to do stuff. Those who chose not to go the avenue of dorming with Nordstrom… they just didn’t get to have as much fun I feel like.

What was the commute like to and from your internship?

The good thing about living at the University of Washington is that there are bus stops everywhere. From our dorm to the bus stop, it was probably just a 1 to 2 minute walk. But, public transportation in Seattle is a lot different than here because a lot of people use it… so it’s a lot more efficient than what you think of here. Sometimes I’d walk up to the bus stop and the bus would just come, and from there it only takes me 10 minutes for me to get to the bus stop that allows me to get to work… with a 3 minute walk. But some days, it would take the bus 10 minutes [to show up], so my commute could be anywhere from 20 minutes to 30 minutes. But at Nordstrom you don’t have to get to work at a set time. It’s just like, be here before this time, or between these times, so it was never super stressful. Sometimes you’re packed like sardines [in the bus], and sometimes children throw up, but other than that it’s fine. 

Can you walk us through the steps of your interview process?                                           

Towards the end of December 2014, I submitted my application online. Nordstrom doesn’t do any testing, so there’s no personality test, there’s no retail math test. You just turn in your application, and at the beginning of the year – I remember it being around the end of Christmas break – I got an email saying I got to the next step and that I’d be doing a video interview.  The first Skype interview you could do any day before a due date. So you just logged onto the site and you did the interview any time you wanted. The first interview, you’re not actually talking to anyone live. You’re talking to this prerecorded lady who’s asking you questions and you respond. I recommend doing it during the day when your roommate’s gone and you have nice natural light on your face and you just look really good. And if you do well on that, they send you another email asking you to do the final interview which is using that same system but you’re actually with live people. And they’re flexible. They give you multiple times to choose from. I know when Neiman Marcus interviews, they’re just like here’s the time you’re doing it and if you can’t, then… sorry. But Nordstrom is not like that. They’re like “Choose between these times, let us know…,” so they’re very nice. You interview with a panel of people. Mine was with 4 or 5 people, and it starts exactly on time when they say it does, and it ends exactly when they say it’s going to end. They were very punctual which was cool. They asked some difficult questions; I was kind of surprised. I consider it one of the hardest interviews I’ve done. An example of one of these hard questions was “Explain a time in your life when you used numbers to solve a difficult life situation.” I can’t remember what I responded with. If you guys get to that point, be prepared for that question. [After that interview] they emailed me and let me know I got it and sent me the details and stuff.

What skills/experience/and classes benefited you the most while on-the-job?                     

Profit Centered Merchandising. It’s only the Excel part. I was never having to sit down and number crunch. Any class that has forced you to be adaptable, I would say is the most useful. I hate to learn to use Outlook. I hate Outlook. That sounds silly but that was challenging to me… learning how to use their mailing system. You have to be kind-of tech savvy because what you’re having to do is essentially getting on their reporting systems and figuring out how to pull their reports and it’s very complicated. They give you some training but nothing can fully prepare you. 

What was the structure of the training program?                                                                 

Nordstrom is not big on training, but they did offer the interns a few classes. At the beginning of the internship we had a lot more training and then it dwindled down. But, they did have a class where they taught us how to pull those reports. They had a class that showed us the best way to approach our intern projects. We listened to guest speakers [like Olivia Kim!]. We had basic classes on merchandising, but specific to Nordstom and they’re acronyms and terms that they use. We had a culture club too which was run by former interns where they told us stuff that most people don’t know. Like, at Nordstrom, no one chews gum because the Nordstrom bothers really hate when people chew gum. And they taught us things like, never bring another retailer’s bag with your lunch – like a Forever21 bag – into the Nordstrom corporate office, because people are going to look at you and wonder what you are doing. Make it seem like the only place you ever shop at is Nordstrom. We took classes that helped us merge into the culture which is a bigger deal to them than hard-core training.

What was the most challenging obstacle you had to overcome at your internship?            

What made it challenging was we were given an intern project at the beginning of our internship. The project was really specific and you had to give a presentation towards the end of your internship. So, what was difficult was balancing digging in deep to that project while still helping my pod out.

How would you describe your relationship with the other interns?                                                

My roommates were interns so I would say amazing. It was really fun. It’s just kind of cool when you have all these people who have such similar interests as you and are really passionate and are obsessed with the same company.  I can remember going out to dinner with my roommates and we got horrible service. And Nordstrom is really big on service so we were like “ughhh… that was such horrible service!,” and then we all looked at each other like, ”wow.” People have really similar values as you and also the same interests. We definitely went out on the weekends, and would run into everyone in the same area, so it was a really positive, good experience. I heard rumors of other people not getting along, but I didn’t really have that problem. 

What did you do after work Monday-Friday and on the weekends?                                    

Monday through Friday, sometimes the HR department would have different events for us to participate in, like one of the duck-call things, little cocktail hours, stuff like that. Sometimes I would meet up with my roommates if we were getting off around the same time and go have one drink and head home. Or we’d go straight home and change into ugly, comfy clothes and then go walk down The Ave and get Indian or Thai food and maybe go thrift shopping. On the weekends we did everything.  We went to Portland one weekend. We went to Pike’s Place which is the big market in Seattle. We just tried to see as much of Seattle as we could and at night we would go-out, go-out. 

How would you describe your relationship with your boss and/or mentors?                              

My boss was really sweet… more soft-spoken, but would obviously speak up when she needed to. She was more nurturing. My boss was a buy-planner. So she was in charge of a product category, ours being Skincare 1. And too, her pod is broken up into a buy-planner, a buyer, an assistant buyer, an assistant buy-planner, replenishment buyers, and also a merchant assistant. But now, there’s also going to be a merchant analyst/office aide. That’s the structure of the whole entire pod, so basically everyone in the whole entire pod was my boss. But the person who was in charge of my documentation was the buy-planner. She was able to explain to me how to do stuff and invited me to vendor meetings. I got to sit down in meetings and talk with people and they’d make me feel like I was part of the team. I remember being in one meeting with the buyer in my pod and she was like “Smell these two scents. Which one do you think is better?” And then she was like “Okay we’ll take this one too.” So I made that decision, and it was going in the store. It sounds miniscule but they truly value your opinion. I wasn’t in the back just holding a clipboard; I was sitting at the table and helping them make decisions, and talking about what the packaging looked like, and what scents we think are going to be big at certain times of the year. 

From your perspective, how would you describe Nordstrom’s corporate company culture?  

Be an individual, but be an individual that works well with other individuals. When you’re walking down the street in Seattle, you can kind of tell who works at Nordstrom because they have really good style that is also very unique. And I think that’s something that’s really unique to their culture. They’re very much themselves but also very nice and humble at the same time. You can’t really tell who’s a higher up executive in the corporate office. 

Would you recommend this internship to other students? Why or why not?                          

Yes, yes, yes! Because, Nordstrom is going to have world domination! Just kidding. There’s a few reasons. Nordstrom’s an old company and they’ve been growing as a company for a very long time, which is challenging in today’s environment. When I was applying for internships, I knew I wanted to be with a stable company; one that I was pretty sure wasn’t going downhill anytime soon. I wanted to intern for a company I wanted to work for. That was something I really looked at, and Nordstrom fit that for me. They’ve been doing really well, and they plan on growing a lot more by 2020. They’re also growing well with technology. I recommend it just because you learn a lot, they take your opinion, and the company is doing well… there’s not this weird feeling because people are getting fired. 

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What is one piece of advice you would give to a student pursuing an internship at Nordstrom?                                                                                                                                                

They need to tailor their resume. But, I think for Nordstrom its way more about the cover letter. I could be wrong. But, I put a lot of time into my cover letter. I made sure they knew that I knew about their company history, so I sprinkled in a fact about how they were originally a shoe store, but in a fun and quirky way. Obviously if you’re applying for the buying internship, make sure that it’s evident that you have retail math skills, and that you’ve taken certain classes. Then in your cover letter, make sure it shows your personality, what you’ve done, and that you know the company. Also, if you know someone that knows someone, get them to pass on your application. That’s another big thing. 


CREDITS

Wardrobe Styling: Nichole Fallis

Copy, Photography, and Graphics: Ashley Nudge