Meet the Insiders – Merchandising Manager

The best way to learn some hands-on information about the fashion industry? By speaking to those working in it. Throughout our series of ‘Meet the Insiders’ we’ll be speaking to garment technologists, fashion buyers, designers, marketers and more to learn more about their career history, and the top tips for you to achieve your career goals, too.

Today we talk to a Merchandising Manager, whose day to day role works across a breadth of activity, responsible for ensuring commercial and profitable collections are developed and bought so to maximise profit, and that the merchandising strategy is always covered, catering to the needs to the customer and the company. It’s a multi skilled role, needing analytical, numerical and commercial skills.

Firstly, talk to me about your work history and past experience?

When I first left university I was unsure exactly what I wanted to do. I always thought I would work in magazine journalism as that had always been my passion, however after completing some work experience at a magazine in London, as much as I loved the experience I found I just didn’t want to live in the capital, and that opportunities in the North were limited.

When I moved to Manchester I really just ‘fell’ into merchandising – starting as a junior learning the ropes, then working my way up as a merchandiser, then a senior merchandiser. I feel this part of the industry really suits my personality and I love that you work with stakeholders across all teams, from design and sales to factories and customers, but you also need to be able to spin lots of plates!

Ive also worked for three years in compliance which is beneficial to my current role as a merchandising manager, where I also manage the compliance side which I really enjoy.

What’s your favourite thing about being an Import Merchandiser?

Definitely the diversity, no two days are the same, meaning there’s certainly no time for clock watching…

What other roles do you think you could use your skills for?

I absolutely love managing a team, and I am really passionate about people’s positive experiences in the workplace, it’s a really tough industry and I strive to make the office environment as liberal as possible so I think I could take those skills and use them to work in HR.

How has the Covid-19 pandemic changed work for you?

We have been very fortunate that business hasn’t really been affected, but, like many, adapting to working from home has been somewhat of a challenge. Trying to manage a team remotely, not being able to visit factories etc hasn’t been easy – but like everyone, with modern technology and a positive attitude you make it work.

What’s been a real career high for you?

I’ve been so lucky to have travelled to lots of different places I would never have been to without working in merchandising (pre-covid!). I have met such incredible people along the way.

What’s something you would have done differently?

I probably wouldn’t have stressed so much in my 20’s and had more faith in myself and my ability. As I’ve gotten older and more experienced I definitely manage stress and a high workload differently, its so important to look at the bigger picture and not sweat the small stuff!

How do you think the industry has evolved over the past year in particular?

I think companies will see that working a regimented 9-5 in the office five days a week is a thing of the past, in our office we offered flexi working before the pandemic and we are still working optional days from home, it certainly doesn’t stop productivity and it gives some staff an opportunity to escape the commute which can surely only be a positive thing for not only the environment but also for our own mental health.

Finally, what are your top tips for how to act in a job interview?

The first and most important tip would be to BE YOURSELF! It’s ok to be nervous, everyone is the same before an interview – it shows you care.

Ask questions and do your research on the company, don’t be afraid to ask as much as you can about the role you will be doing, as you are interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you.