So You Want to Be a Fashion Merchandiser

I used to do some runway and commercial modeling. Long story short, it didn’t pan out. But at the time, I still wanted a career in the fashion industry. I loved so much about that world. Somehow, some way, I was going to realize that dream and make it big. If I wasn’t going to do it as a model, I would be the designer the girls were wearing. I had visions of putting on runway shows for New York’s Fashion Week some day. Yup, I decided that was the direction I would go. Everything happens for a reason. The reason I never made it as a model was because I was destined to be a great designer. I’d have celebrities imploring me to design their wedding dresses or ball gowns for the Oscars.

Lofty goals to say the least but you know what they say, if you don’t try you’ll never know…or something like that. In any event, I was back in New York City all over again and one of my first jobs on the road to acclaim was a merchandising coordinator for a nationwide department store chain. It was there that I learned the value of all of the tools of the trade. You know, the stuff that most people take for granted on a day-to-day basis. There are plenty of everyday household items that we all use, but models and stylists appreciate them on a whole new level because these things are the lifeblood of the industry. For instance, consider the hair dryer. You probably have one in your bathroom cabinet and think about it once or twice a week. For someone in my industry, it’s as important as a wrench to a plumber. They say a good craftsman never blames his tools, but good tools can help make the craftsman one of the most sought after in the industry. It’s that simple. So I gained a greater understanding of the importance of something as innocuous as a hair dryer and realized that consumers need a trusted resource that guided them to finding the best products, like the hair dryer. You’ll find websites like that offer reliable reviews and other important information about hair dryers. I wanted to become that reliable, to be that valuable resource to those who depended on good merchandise for their careers.

There was just one slight problem. I had no idea what a merchandiser actually did. I mean, there was a pretty standard definition of what the position entailed, the only issue was that it seems to entail everything all at once. I soon realized that the more people I spoke to about what my duties and responsibilities were, the more it changed. I was doing everything. I was working in retailing, I was involved in marketing, I was stocking shelves. I learned about design trends and was involved in the planning of merchandising strategies. It was a little overwhelming at first. I began to think that I had become the “go-to” girl for the tasks that others didn’t want to do or didn’t understand how to do. Believe me, there was a little bit of both. When you’re the low woman on the totem pole, poop rolls downhill, if you catch my drift.

But what soon began to dawn on me was the sheer amount of valuable information I was learning by just being there and getting my feet wet. I had my hand in so many different jobs and tasks that I was absorbing an incredible wealth of knowledge. I cannot tell you how thrilled and excited I was to be going there every morning, staying late every night. Immersing myself in the world that I loved, surrounded by it all.

So I guess what I’m saying here is this: if you were like me at one time and wanted a career in the fashion industry, get a gig as a merchandiser. It’s often hard to define and nebulous in its description.

And you don’t want it any other way. The more you do, the more you will learn. I highly recommend it.