Career

10 Lessons From My First Year of Fashion Merchandising

Written by: Susan Hang

9143It looks like I’m hitting my anniversary in merchandise planning and boy, did it fly by. The list seems endless as I sit here and reflect on what I’ve accomplished and learnt in the last year, but there are certainly a few lessons to note. The best part is that you can take most of them with you no matter what industry or job you work in. Here are my top 10:

#1 – Absolute Attention to Detail.

This plays into Point #2, but still relevant enough to be on its own. Keep your eyes opened and ears perked at all times because even the smallest things can make a world of difference and also make sure you double-check every number, every detail – everything.

#2 – Learn Your Boss.

Everyone is different so pay attention to what your boss and senior managers like and what they tend to ask you for repeatedly. Then, give it to them without them having to ask you for it. This could be as simple as hole-punching reports before turning them in or running a report by a specific time on a certain day. Figure out what those small things are and do them.

#3 – Relationships Relationships.

This is becoming such a cliché, but I cannot emphasize enough the importance of whom you know in the workplace. It sucks to say, but promotions and movement are mostly political (and maybe even more so in fashion) – this means you need exposure. People need to know who you are, your potential, and your work ethic. Get out there.

#4 – You’re in Control of Your Career.

No one is going to push you forward, but yourself and that really applies to all aspects of life. You won’t be confident all the time especially in the beginning, but you should never take a conservative approach by waiting in silence for your boss or senior to tell you that you’re ready for a new opportunity or promotion. You dictate where you want to be and where you can go – if you’re not sure, you need to ask someone. It is not your manager’s responsibility to determine your next step. You cannot have what you don’t ask for.

#5 – Maximize All Your Resources First.

Don’t be that person who constantly asks, “What do I do next?” or immediately asks, “How do I do this?” Learn to be resourceful and use your peers, the internet, and everything around you to handle a task or project before going back to your boss. (Note: This is not to be confused with direction. If you’re not sure what direction you’re headed in, you need to ask.)

#6 – Be Open-minded and Willing to Learn.

Yes, you are knowledgeable, but your way isn’t the only way nor is it the right way. Be humble, flexible, and adaptable because you can always become more efficient or more effective by observing and learning from those around you.

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#7 – Know Your Basic Math.

Numbers are such major deal in merchandising – you’re truly looking at 80% financials (at minimum) and 20% product. If you’re not comfortable working with numbers, this probably isn’t the right place to be. It doesn’t take a math whiz to figure it out because there are definitely formulas, but it’s also not a place for errors.

#8 – Be Willing to Put in The Hours.

There is so much to learn and absorb in fashion merchandising. Although it’s not fun, you will need to put in the hours especially in the beginning when you’re learning and trying to be proficient in your job. You won’t be putting forth 60 hours every week, but do be prepared for super highs and lows.

#9 – Don’t Be a Whiner.

No one likes to be around the pessimist who complains about everything. That’s the kind of attitude that doesn’t get you promoted. Conditions won’t always be ideal so strive to have a “what’s the best way to approach this problem” attitude. This way, you’ll become more tactical and strategic in how you handle any obstacles that come your way.

#10 – 100% All the Time.

You won’t like your job all the time. There will tasks you’ll need to do that seem insignificant, inconvenient, and just flat out senseless. You may even realize that the job is not really for you and you’re just not into the gig anymore. Set those negative emotions aside –

you must always put forth 100% effort and continue to do your best until you’ve moved on.

XO,

– Susan

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