Summer Kick-Off

On June 14th, the Fashion Scholarship Fund (FSF) held its annual Summer Kick-Off at Global Brands Group. The Kick-Off, which included the announcement of the FSF Alumna who was awarded the first ever Alumni Dream Grant (ADG), was a huge success.

Back in June 2017, FSF announced the expansion of its portfolio of scholarships to include the Alumni Dream Grant. Overseeing the program is Marc Mastronardi, Macy’s Executive Vice President of Business Development, Innovation who noted, “All of us who care and are invested in the future of fashion need to continue to identify the next generation of leadership and give them the support they need to succeed.” Continuing the organization’s mission of identifying the best and brightest talent from its 64 partner colleges and universities for the future of the fashion industry, the Fashion Scholarship Fund Alumni Dream Grant chose to support the early stage start-up, Thistle & Spire, for further growth through mentorship from industry experts and an equity-free $50,000 grant.

ADG winner Lily Chen, FSF 2010 Scholarship Recipient and Fashion Institute of Technology graduate, was ecstatic to hear that she won the grant and is eager to use the funding and mentorship to further advance her company. When asked about her inspiration for Thistle & Spire, Lily articulated, “I will always love building, getting my hands dirty, and the grit of working on challenges to create something new.  Maggie and I created Thistle & Spire because we both saw the power in lingerie. As young women it helped us find confidence, not as something we purchase to wear for other people, but for ourselves.  We were also astounded how there were very expensive brands or cheaper mass market brands, but nothing in between. Thistle & Spire was inspired by the women in our lives. Women who knew what they want and built their own way.  Our brand name comes from the mix of floral and architectural lines in our designs. They represent the Thistle & spire woman. Thistle flowers were one of the few flowers that grew by our first office in Bushwick Brooklyn. They find a way to grow past restrictions, while a spire rises above in a landscape, always moving upward and seen by everyone.”

Lily also spoke about her company’s overall vision and growth. “It's been a lot of hard work, but thrilling to watch our company grow from a handful of wholesale accounts and a few online purchases to over 50 wholesale doors including Nordstrom, Blooomingdales, Revolve, and Shopbop.  We also have a booming direct to consumer online business. We love the community we have built with body positivity events. As someone who was not confident growing up, the brand allows me to help other women find their confidence through lingerie.  After all, there is nothing more unstoppable than an army of confident women.”

 Co-Founder Maggie Bacon with Alumni Association directors Felicia Podberesky and Marlena Meyer

Co-Founder Maggie Bacon with Alumni Association directors Felicia Podberesky and Marlena Meyer

Among those who attended the kick-off were FSF Board of Governors, industry mentors, current scholars, and alumni. Guests enjoyed a live string quartet and an assortment of delicious Italian food and beverages.

 

Attendees of this event included Board of Governors such as Alibaba’s Lee McCabe, Randa’s David Katz and Heath Golden, Macy’s Marc Mastronardi, MMG’s Jeff Hellman, Nautica’s Electa Varnish, Glen Ellen Brown, Yehuda Shmidman, and former FSF Executive Director, Doug Evans.

 Alumni Dream Grant Finalists

Alumni Dream Grant Finalists

Overall, the Kick-Off was the quintessential way to launch the summer events series and celebrate the newly crowned ADG winner. Current scholars and alumni got the opportunity to network with potential mentors and mingle with fashion industry leaders in a relaxed and uplifting setting.

 Former FSF Executive Director Doug Evans

Former FSF Executive Director Doug Evans

  Hi! My name is Katie Kornienko and I am the 2018 YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund Summer Intern. I am studying Fashion Merchandising and Finance at the University of Delaware, and I am the Executive Editor of my school’s fashion publication, UDress. I was also a top FSF scholarship winner for Merchandising & Marketing in 2018. Enjoy reading about the fun and engaging events we are hosting this summer for the 2018 scholars!

Hi! My name is Katie Kornienko and I am the 2018 YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund Summer Intern. I am studying Fashion Merchandising and Finance at the University of Delaware, and I am the Executive Editor of my school’s fashion publication, UDress. I was also a top FSF scholarship winner for Merchandising & Marketing in 2018. Enjoy reading about the fun and engaging events we are hosting this summer for the 2018 scholars!

Breakfast with the Boss - Stanley Silverstein, President of International Development and Global Licensing at Perry Ellis International

Stanley Silverstein, President of International Development & Global Licensing at Perry Ellis International, spoke with scholars about his unique path into the fashion industry through law, his experiences working for both Warnaco and Perry Ellis, and the highs and lows of his career. He shared valuable advice for the scholars who aspire to have careers in fashion and explained that, although there is rarely a straight line to success in the industry, it is very attainable if you work hard and have a positive attitude.

DSC_0010.JPG

Stanley grew up in Ohio and attended Harvard Law School thinking that he would have a career in law. He moved to New York and moved from larger law firms to more boutique firms, but couldn’t quite find a place he enjoyed. He then relocated to Connecticut, thinking it was the New York law firms that were off-putting, but he realized eventually that he was not entirely interested in working as a law associate in general. He began to search for a new job and was then hired as an in-house lawyer for an apparel company in Connecticut. “I found that I really enjoyed the [fashion] industry. We worked with many brands, from Hathaway to Christian Dior and I got to learn the intricacies of the fashion business and understand its dynamics. I had quite a bit of responsibility and took it upon myself to be constantly curious”. He explained that he definitely worked through quite a bit of twists and turns but took advantage of them and maintained his work ethic and positivity. “The company went from being a 500 Million dollar company to a 2.5 Billion dollar company, and it was incredible to see the transformation. I maintained a leadership role and built out the brand platform in a dynamic way, opening new markets and new brands”.

DSC_0015.JPG

Stanley spent 29 years at Warnaco, Inc. but explained that he had three or four different careers within the company. “We rebuilt Warnaco around the Calvin Klein brand, expanding globally from 2003 to 2013. Then, PVH took an interest in what we were doing and wanted to integrate, so they bought Warnaco, and I helped work on the integration. However, after eight or nine months, I began to look for a new opportunity and met with the founder of Perry Ellis, which gave me the opportunity for the job I have now”. Stanley articulated that since he began working there, Perry Ellis added 111 new licenses. He now manages a group of people in licensing around the globe in locations such as Hong Kong, Europe, and Miami, who work on international and domestic licensing, as well as the company’s EMEA operations headquartered in London.

DSC_0009.JPG

Stanley shared some words of wisdom with the scholars. The first suggestion that he had for students was to work hard, but work smart, and to be thoughtful. “If you’re close to the hoop, stuff can happen. If you’re there and people can count on you, that’s important. It can lead to mentorship and new opportunities,” he explained. “You have to be willing to put yourself outside of your comfort zone and make yourself noticed, whether it is working at a fashion show or doing an internship”. The second suggestion that he had was to find the right balance of patience and impatience. “You may not get paid enough or properly recognized for your hard work at first, but if you continue to persevere and maintain an optimistic attitude, you will eventually leverage your passions and find your place in the industry”.

DSC_0032.JPG

Stanley also stressed how important the FSF organization is as a resource for scholars. “Getting that first job is always the hardest, and FSF has an immense network of contacts from the companies that scholars aspire to work for,” he said. “All of these companies have so much respect for the scholars and FSF serves as the go-to development office for recruiters.” Although scholars need to have their own drive and proactivity, FSF can really help them out in terms of putting their resume in the right hands, or informing them of what jobs and internships are hiring at any given moment. Stanley also discussed other ways to use one’s network to find an internship or job. “You can definitely reach out to friends and colleagues, but make sure you position yourself in a thoughtful/professional way,” he explained. ‘You can ask something like ‘I heard your company was looking for a designer’ rather than just meeting up without a specific idea in mind.” He also mentioned that schools usually have some sort of job bank or career services network that scholars can also tap into. One scholar asked, “I have a background in fashion design, but I changed career paths a little while ago and now I work in technology. However, I want to get back into fashion. How can I bridge the gap?” Stanley replied by saying that fashion and technology are becoming increasingly integrated and that the world will see more and more things like wearable tech in the future. He told the scholar to explore her options with the Amazons, Googles, etc. of the world, and to tap into her resources.

DSC_0029.JPG

Lastly, Stanley took the scholars to the showroom downstairs and showcased the new Perry Ellis 2019 collection, which included water and stain resistant dress shirts and suits. They were intrigued to see what Perry Ellis had in store for the future and were thankful that they got to see a sneak peek. The scholars left the breakfast feeling inspired and uplifted by Stanley’s story and multitudinous words of wisdom.

DSC_0036.JPG

Stanley Silverstein’s Best Tips from the Boss:

Put yourself near the hoop.

A positive demeanor and a friendly smile goes a long way.

Keep your options open, you never know where you may find your niche.

Maintain your network and don’t be afraid to reach out to them.

Find the right balance of patience and impatience.

IMG_9027.jpg

Hi! My name is Katie Kornienko and I am the 2018 YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund Summer Intern. I am studying Fashion Merchandising and Finance at the University of Delaware, and I am the Executive Editor of my school’s fashion publication, UDress. I was also a top FSF scholarship winner for Merchandising & Marketing in 2018. Enjoy reading about the fun and engaging events we are hosting this summer for the 2018 scholars!

Breakfast with the Boss - Chris Kolbe, SVP of Global Design and Trend at Kohl's

Chris Kolbe, SVP of Global Design and Trend at Kohl’s, told his career story and discussed the importance of mentorship, opportunities in the industry, the integration of technology and fashion, and the rise of globalization with scholars. He shared his inspiring and untraditional path into design starting as an employee at his father’s sporting goods store at the age of twelve. Chris navigated his career through buying, planning, merchandising, and entrepreneurship positions before he reached his current position as a leader in design. A few of his recent positions prior to SVP at Kohl’s included being the President of Original Penguin, President & Chief Merchant Officer of Lucky Brand Jeans, and Brand President at Land’s End.

IMG_3797.jpeg

Chris’ career wasn’t always easy, however, he articulated that, “Although there are cycles in business, you learn the most when things are tough. I learned more in the two years during and after the 2008 recession than I did in the six good years that happened prior”. He explained that the adversity and uncertainty that the industry underwent in these years helped shape his perspective and made him even more tough and persistent. Chris also shared a few important points regarding selectin jobs and anticipating career changes. “Don’t look for immediate gain as the main asset of a new job. Ask yourself about what you could potentially learn from the experience, who you could meet, and what the culture of the workplace would be” he explained.

One scholar asked, “Have you had a specific end goal for your career? How did you decide when it was time to move on to a new position?” “I’m driven by potential,” Chris replied, “I value opportunity more than title, and I try to visualize how A can lead to B to C. The best thing to do is to think two steps ahead and to foresee how a current experience could help you achieve a future goal.” He discussed career management and stressed the importance of strategically planning your career steps as well as establishing long-term ambitions.

IMG_9564.JPG

Another scholar inquired, “What were the differences in work environments between all of the places you worked?” “Oh, they were all so different,” he replied, “There were big differences in company culture, corporate values, and general structure.” He explained that he learned to value companies that are inherently good- good to their people, good to the planet, and good to overseas laborers. He told scholars that he values that goodness more than glamour and prestige.

A third scholar asked, “What advice do you have regarding mentorship? When did you come in contact with your first mentor?” Chris replied, “I actually didn’t have a mentor for a while; I read a lot and was a self-starter. But I would definitely recommend seeking a mentor early. However, no one is going to tap you on the shoulder unless you reach out to them, because what you don’t ask you don’t get.” He added that he manages about 250 artists and designers, and ensures that they all receive some degree of mentorship.

Lastly, the conversation shifted to the impact of artificial intelligence and globalization in the fashion industry. “The world has become increasingly borderless; no one has full exclusion anymore because consumers demand speed, quality, and lower cost, which can only be achieved when many different people collaborate.” “However,” he added, “Labor costs are also rising, so this is where automation will come into play. I can see automation completely replacing human labor in factories, so it will be interesting to see how that shapes the industry in the future.”

IMG_3802.JPG

Chris Kolbe’s Best Tips from the Boss:

Good merchants are opportunists.

Listen to the customer.

The [fashion] business is always changing.

There is no straight line to success in fashion.

Be ready to roll up your sleeves and learn hands-on.

Look into company culture before choosing a position.

Change will happen two times faster in the next 10 years as it has in the last 10.

Don’t prioritize immediate gain.

IMG_9027.jpg

Hi! My name is Katie Kornienko and I am the 2018 YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund Summer Intern. I am studying Fashion Merchandising and Finance at the University of Delaware, and I am the Executive Editor of my school’s fashion publication, UDress. I was also a top FSF scholarship winner for Merchandising & Marketing in 2018. Enjoy reading about the fun and engaging events we are hosting this summer for the 2018 scholars!

Breakfast with the Boss - Debra Malbin, Founder of Debra Malbin Associates

Debra Malbin has had both a unique and immensely successful career in the fashion industry. Upon graduating from FSF member school, the University of Florida, with a degree in Marketing, she started working for a media agency in New York. At first, like many graduates, she did not find her first job to be aligned with her true passions, therefore, on a whim, Debra applied for a seasonal role at Bloomingdale’s and was hired. She remained with the company for eight years, and was promoted from a position as an assistant buyer, to department manager, to a buyer for multiple divisions in both home and menswear. As her eighth year rolled in, she decided to move to a wholesale position at Jhane Barnes which was owned by Oxford Industries. There, she went from being a VP of sales to becoming a president of multiple divisions, both positions in which she found herself truly thriving because of her natural propensity for oversight, teamwork, and larger-scale decision making. Her final career move happened when she started her own executive recruiting business, Debra Malbin Associates, which blended all of her unique talents and interests. DMA is a small boutique search firm that specializes in recruiting middle to senior management executives.

IMG_1095.jpg

 

Firstly, Debra shared with the scholars the different opportunities that are available for graduates, and what the various jobs in the industry entail. “There are so many different jobs in fashion,” Debra expressed, “Students usually aspire to go into buying or marketing, but they have never even been exposed to licensing or strategy”. She further explained that a job in licensing has the potential to blend the diverse interests, such as sales, product, and interpersonal communication skills, of someone who is not blatantly set on one thing. “Your first job(s) are a sort of elimination process; the search is like a pyramid, where you start with a broader selection and then it gets more and more narrow as you check off what you dislike”, Debra explained.

IMG_9005.JPG

Next, Debra went in-depth on both good and bad interviewing techniques, from her point of view as someone who has had extensive experience with recruiting. “You never get a second chance at a first impression,” Debra stressed, “After that one second, it will be difficult to sway someone into thinking of you otherwise, so look presentable, have a firm handshake, and appear confident. If you can, choose the middle seat instead of a seat to the far right or far left”. Alyssa Zinola, events and social media manager for FSF, added that a good idea is to dress professionally, even for a phone interview. “When you are dressed up, you are more likely to speak professionally and envision yourself in an interview setting rather than speaking as if you are on the phone with a friend”, she explained.

 

Lastly, Debra talked the scholars through several tips regarding their resumes and cover letters. “How long should a cover letter be?” One scholar asked, “I’ve heard opposing perspectives on whether they should be a full page or just one paragraph”. Debra answered by explaining that, since many people in the fashion industry are both visual and often pressed for time, they appreciate brevity and concision. “A cover letter should be two paragraphs,” She articulated, “One paragraph which explains who you are and what your skills are, and another which explains why you want to work for this particular company and why the position matches your skills and qualifications”. Debra also stressed the importance of being honest on your resume, as well as knowing the dates, locations, and key learning points of the jobs listed. “I’m surprised at how many people can’t tell me the dates of when they held certain positions,” she said. “You have one short life so you should be able to know it inside-out.”

 

Debra concluded the breakfast by inquiring about the scholars’ future career goals, as well as giving them extra bits of advice on how to be successful in the industry. The scholars left the event with both inspiration and a plethora of meaningful tips which they will be able to employ in their job search and future careers.

  Hi! My name is Katie Kornienko and I am the 2018 YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund Summer Intern. I am studying Fashion Merchandising and Finance at the University of Delaware, and I am the Executive Editor of my school’s fashion publication, UDress. I was also a top FSF scholarship winner for Merchandising & Marketing in 2018. Enjoy reading about the fun and engaging events we are hosting this summer for the 2018 scholars!

Hi! My name is Katie Kornienko and I am the 2018 YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund Summer Intern. I am studying Fashion Merchandising and Finance at the University of Delaware, and I am the Executive Editor of my school’s fashion publication, UDress. I was also a top FSF scholarship winner for Merchandising & Marketing in 2018. Enjoy reading about the fun and engaging events we are hosting this summer for the 2018 scholars!

Breakfast with the Boss: Lisa Panattoni, President of Merchandising at ROSS Stores, Inc.

 Lisa Panattoni is the President of Merchandising at ROSS Stores, Inc. She directly oversees men’s, home, cosmetics, lingerie, and jewelry, and has been at ROSS for over 12 years. Lisa has spent 25 years of her career in off-price retail. In college she majored in Communications with a minor in Business. Upon graduation, Lisa entered the training program for Weinstock’s department store in Sacramento, California. She spent six years working for Weinstock’s, eventually moving to the east coast to work for TJX, and later ROSS Stores, Inc. Lisa discovered her natural propensity for the fast-paced world of off-price retail, and has been a part of the industry ever since.  “ What do you think has helped with the growth of stores like T.J. Maxx and ROSS in recent years?” one scholar asked. “ I’ve been working with off-price for a very long time,” Lisa responded. “When I started, there were maybe one third of the number of off-price stores that we have now. The growth has really been explosive. I think it has a lot to do with how people like to shop. We are starting to see a separation of internet shopping and shopping in physical places that are a bit more experiential. Shopping at ROSS, and in off-price stores in general, is fun! It’s not for everyone, but for those who enjoy it, it is an experience. You go in one day and find a bargain, and come back the next week and take part in the treasure hunt all over again. I think that drives a lot of our business. Some people have to shop off-price, and some people just enjoy the hunt. I think the combination of both has driven a lot of the growth.”

Lisa Panattoni is the President of Merchandising at ROSS Stores, Inc. She directly oversees men’s, home, cosmetics, lingerie, and jewelry, and has been at ROSS for over 12 years. Lisa has spent 25 years of her career in off-price retail. In college she majored in Communications with a minor in Business. Upon graduation, Lisa entered the training program for Weinstock’s department store in Sacramento, California. She spent six years working for Weinstock’s, eventually moving to the east coast to work for TJX, and later ROSS Stores, Inc. Lisa discovered her natural propensity for the fast-paced world of off-price retail, and has been a part of the industry ever since.

What do you think has helped with the growth of stores like T.J. Maxx and ROSS in recent years?” one scholar asked. “I’ve been working with off-price for a very long time,” Lisa responded. “When I started, there were maybe one third of the number of off-price stores that we have now. The growth has really been explosive. I think it has a lot to do with how people like to shop. We are starting to see a separation of internet shopping and shopping in physical places that are a bit more experiential. Shopping at ROSS, and in off-price stores in general, is fun! It’s not for everyone, but for those who enjoy it, it is an experience. You go in one day and find a bargain, and come back the next week and take part in the treasure hunt all over again. I think that drives a lot of our business. Some people have to shop off-price, and some people just enjoy the hunt. I think the combination of both has driven a lot of the growth.”

 “ Would you say that off-price and full-price stores operate differently?” another scholar inquired. “ Oh yes,” Lisa said. “They operate very differently. One of the things that really separates off-price is the level of flexibility. When you think about a more traditional store, you are really centered around laying out seasons and working on doing so a year in advance. A merchant here at ROSS is really living more in the moment. There is much more ability to change. Our merchants look at sales each week and start to recognize patterns and make quick changes to assortments based on those findings. The ability to evolve your assortment so quickly is a major advantage and a major difference in off-price versus full-price retailers.”  “ How do you avoid overbuying?” one scholar followed up. “ We have hundreds of merchants who all love to buy. We run a trend analysis that allows us to track trends and see where we are,” Lisa explained. “We also have a planning team that is side by side with the merchant team to make sure that our plans are aligned and our buyers are in check. The other component of off-price that is different is the way we approach buying. If we have a budget for 100 of an item, but there are 500 available for an amazing deal, we will buy all 500. We don’t let our plans constrict us if it is the right deal.”   “ E-commerce has shaken up the way a lot of full-price retailers approach business,” another scholar said. “Would you say that e-commerce has had as great of an effect on off-price retailers like ROSS?”  Lisa responded, “This is a question that the market asks us all the time. We are obviously paying a great deal attention to the internet; Amazon is making the news every other week. ROSS’s position so far as really been to wait and see. We are watching other off-price retailers and seeing how they are moving. However, one of the things about off-price is that it is a fairly low average ticket, and it changes very quickly. For this reason, it is very expensive for our products to be up on a website. At the end of the day, we have a tremendous amount of store growth ahead of us and we’d like to focus on that. We are definitely paying a lot of attention to how the internet is affecting retail, but we are confident in our strategies.”

Would you say that off-price and full-price stores operate differently?” another scholar inquired. “Oh yes,” Lisa said. “They operate very differently. One of the things that really separates off-price is the level of flexibility. When you think about a more traditional store, you are really centered around laying out seasons and working on doing so a year in advance. A merchant here at ROSS is really living more in the moment. There is much more ability to change. Our merchants look at sales each week and start to recognize patterns and make quick changes to assortments based on those findings. The ability to evolve your assortment so quickly is a major advantage and a major difference in off-price versus full-price retailers.”

How do you avoid overbuying?” one scholar followed up. “We have hundreds of merchants who all love to buy. We run a trend analysis that allows us to track trends and see where we are,” Lisa explained. “We also have a planning team that is side by side with the merchant team to make sure that our plans are aligned and our buyers are in check. The other component of off-price that is different is the way we approach buying. If we have a budget for 100 of an item, but there are 500 available for an amazing deal, we will buy all 500. We don’t let our plans constrict us if it is the right deal.”

 “E-commerce has shaken up the way a lot of full-price retailers approach business,” another scholar said. “Would you say that e-commerce has had as great of an effect on off-price retailers like ROSS?” Lisa responded, “This is a question that the market asks us all the time. We are obviously paying a great deal attention to the internet; Amazon is making the news every other week. ROSS’s position so far as really been to wait and see. We are watching other off-price retailers and seeing how they are moving. However, one of the things about off-price is that it is a fairly low average ticket, and it changes very quickly. For this reason, it is very expensive for our products to be up on a website. At the end of the day, we have a tremendous amount of store growth ahead of us and we’d like to focus on that. We are definitely paying a lot of attention to how the internet is affecting retail, but we are confident in our strategies.”

 “ Right now as you know, full-price retailers are struggling, but off-price is on the rise,” another scholar noted. “What do you think is the biggest challenge that off-price retailers face in terms of remaining successful and continuing to grow?”  Lisa replied that ROSS’s strategy is all about mutual success. “I think we have to continue to get great talent for our company, which is why we love programs like the YMA FSF. Having the right people in the right chairs at the right time is a huge part of our ability to grow. The other part is sort of dependent on other retailers’ performance.  We need a healthy supply chain to function well. It is good for us if other retailers are doing well. If everyone else is performing well, then they’re buying and putting goods out on the market. It’s good for the total economy, and for retail. Certain closures are good for the short term, but not necessarily for the long term.”   We closed out the question and answer session with a final inquiry from a scholar. “What do you think is a key trait in yourself that has helped you move up in your career?” she asked.  “When I started working in retail, I didn’t come in with the mindset that I was going to be a President one day,” Lisa replied honestly. “I think that as I started to move along and feel more comfortable in my career and with my skills, one of the main things that helped me succeed was doing the job that I was given and doing it well, without being distracted by what I thought was to come or where I wanted to go down the line. For me, when I became a buyer, I didn’t worry about becoming a division or the Vice President. I worked hard at being a great buyer and let opportunities come. You still have to be an advocate for your career, but I wasn’t always looking for the next job. I was focused on the job I was in at that moment in time. I think this mindset really helped me get ahead. Additionally, I think it is important to approach things with a level of intellectual curiosity. Whatever you are doing, whether it is getting coffee or styling a show, there is a lot to be learned from each experience. You need to want to learn beyond just the singular task you are given.”

Right now as you know, full-price retailers are struggling, but off-price is on the rise,” another scholar noted. “What do you think is the biggest challenge that off-price retailers face in terms of remaining successful and continuing to grow?” Lisa replied that ROSS’s strategy is all about mutual success. “I think we have to continue to get great talent for our company, which is why we love programs like the YMA FSF. Having the right people in the right chairs at the right time is a huge part of our ability to grow. The other part is sort of dependent on other retailers’ performance.  We need a healthy supply chain to function well. It is good for us if other retailers are doing well. If everyone else is performing well, then they’re buying and putting goods out on the market. It’s good for the total economy, and for retail. Certain closures are good for the short term, but not necessarily for the long term.”

We closed out the question and answer session with a final inquiry from a scholar. “What do you think is a key trait in yourself that has helped you move up in your career?” she asked. “When I started working in retail, I didn’t come in with the mindset that I was going to be a President one day,” Lisa replied honestly. “I think that as I started to move along and feel more comfortable in my career and with my skills, one of the main things that helped me succeed was doing the job that I was given and doing it well, without being distracted by what I thought was to come or where I wanted to go down the line. For me, when I became a buyer, I didn’t worry about becoming a division or the Vice President. I worked hard at being a great buyer and let opportunities come. You still have to be an advocate for your career, but I wasn’t always looking for the next job. I was focused on the job I was in at that moment in time. I think this mindset really helped me get ahead. Additionally, I think it is important to approach things with a level of intellectual curiosity. Whatever you are doing, whether it is getting coffee or styling a show, there is a lot to be learned from each experience. You need to want to learn beyond just the singular task you are given.”

   Lisa Panattoni’s Words of Wisdom:    Focus on the job you are given and do it well.  Approach life with a level of intellectual curiosity.  Learn beyond just the singular task you are given.

Lisa Panattoni’s Words of Wisdom:

Focus on the job you are given and do it well.

Approach life with a level of intellectual curiosity.

Learn beyond just the singular task you are given.

The Evolution of the Fashion Industry - Marty Staff, CEO of BCBG

 Marty Staff is one of the most renown names in retail and his extensive experience in the field makes it clear to see why.  Marty has worked in executive roles with companies such as Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, and HUGO BOSS, just to name a few. He is currently CEO at BCBG Maxazaria. Marty has made his mark on the fashion world and continues to advance innovation within the industry. Staff accepted his first role in retail in an entry-level position at Bloomingdales, and the rest is history. He developed a passion for the work that motivates him every day.  “If you don’t love this profession,” Marty said, “You won’t do well. This industry becomes your life, not just your job.” Our scholars were fortunate enough to receive some words of wisdom from Staff at our event hosted by BCBG.  “In retail what we need is a marriage between both design and business,” Marty said. “That is where the ‘secret sauce’ for success comes from.” Staff divulged some business advice to the audience, emphasizing some of the core themes our scholars have been hearing throughout the summer. “People are spending less and less on clothes and more on experiences and entertainment,” he said. “Therefore, we need to make retail more exciting and entertaining.” Marty recalled a marketing tactic he and his team used with HUGO BOSS. “We used to simply sponsor events like film festivals and premieres, but never had any true role in the event itself. After noticing that our sponsorships weren’t doing as much as we’d hoped for our brand, we decided to try something new. We put together a huge party for HUGO BOSS and invited all kinds of celebrities and influencers. The reaction we recieved from this event really helped shape the image of HUGO BOSS into what it is today.”

Marty Staff is one of the most renown names in retail and his extensive experience in the field makes it clear to see why.  Marty has worked in executive roles with companies such as Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, and HUGO BOSS, just to name a few. He is currently CEO at BCBG Maxazaria. Marty has made his mark on the fashion world and continues to advance innovation within the industry. Staff accepted his first role in retail in an entry-level position at Bloomingdales, and the rest is history. He developed a passion for the work that motivates him every day.  “If you don’t love this profession,” Marty said, “You won’t do well. This industry becomes your life, not just your job.” Our scholars were fortunate enough to receive some words of wisdom from Staff at our event hosted by BCBG.

“In retail what we need is a marriage between both design and business,” Marty said. “That is where the ‘secret sauce’ for success comes from.” Staff divulged some business advice to the audience, emphasizing some of the core themes our scholars have been hearing throughout the summer. “People are spending less and less on clothes and more on experiences and entertainment,” he said. “Therefore, we need to make retail more exciting and entertaining.” Marty recalled a marketing tactic he and his team used with HUGO BOSS. “We used to simply sponsor events like film festivals and premieres, but never had any true role in the event itself. After noticing that our sponsorships weren’t doing as much as we’d hoped for our brand, we decided to try something new. We put together a huge party for HUGO BOSS and invited all kinds of celebrities and influencers. The reaction we recieved from this event really helped shape the image of HUGO BOSS into what it is today.”

 Staff went on to discuss the process behind deciding on the value of a retail item. “If you compete solely on price, you will always lose,” he said honestly. “If a buyer tells you that they want you to lower the price of your item, that means your item is just not that hot right now. The price of an item isn’t about whether it is ‘expensive’ or ‘cheap’ – it’s a question of whether it is worth it to the buyer.” Marty shared some details about the math behind how companies price an item. “Each member of the process wants a certain amount in profits,” he said. “If an item cost $20 to produce, the manufacturer is going to want a 50% markup, which means you need to price it at $40. The retailer will then want a 60% markup on that price, meaning the item will need to be priced at $100 when it hits the selling floor. There are a lot of parties involved and we need to satisfy each one.”  In retail, more than half of a company’s business comes from basic items and predictable commodities. Creativity and innovation generate consumer interest in making the purchases that produce the remaining portion of sales. Marty shared that as a company, when an industry feels stagnant, you need to create the demand and then fill it. “A good example of this is a company called Free City,” he shared. “Their main product line centers around loungewear and sweat suits. However, they draw customers in by making coming into their store locations an engaging experience. Alongside their clothing they sell a large assortment of health and fitness items ranging from full sized bicycles to fresh almond milk.” When retail locations are experiential, companies are selling their customers more than just their items; they are selling a lifestyle. 

Staff went on to discuss the process behind deciding on the value of a retail item. “If you compete solely on price, you will always lose,” he said honestly. “If a buyer tells you that they want you to lower the price of your item, that means your item is just not that hot right now. The price of an item isn’t about whether it is ‘expensive’ or ‘cheap’ – it’s a question of whether it is worth it to the buyer.” Marty shared some details about the math behind how companies price an item. “Each member of the process wants a certain amount in profits,” he said. “If an item cost $20 to produce, the manufacturer is going to want a 50% markup, which means you need to price it at $40. The retailer will then want a 60% markup on that price, meaning the item will need to be priced at $100 when it hits the selling floor. There are a lot of parties involved and we need to satisfy each one.”

In retail, more than half of a company’s business comes from basic items and predictable commodities. Creativity and innovation generate consumer interest in making the purchases that produce the remaining portion of sales. Marty shared that as a company, when an industry feels stagnant, you need to create the demand and then fill it. “A good example of this is a company called Free City,” he shared. “Their main product line centers around loungewear and sweat suits. However, they draw customers in by making coming into their store locations an engaging experience. Alongside their clothing they sell a large assortment of health and fitness items ranging from full sized bicycles to fresh almond milk.” When retail locations are experiential, companies are selling their customers more than just their items; they are selling a lifestyle. 

  Our scholars were eager to ask such a season retail executive questions about his experiences. “What do you love most about retail?” one scholar asked.  “I started as an assistant buyer for sweaters,” Marty shared. “My boss once gave me about 1200 sweaters and told me to set them up in the store by color and organize the display. To the average person, this might sound like the most horrible job in the world. To me, it was amazing. I couldn’t get enough. ‘Does the grey look best by the light pink or the pale blue? Does the pale blue look best by the lime?’ I would ask myself. When I finished setting up the display, it felt great knowing that when the customer sees it they could be inspired to make a purchase. The inspiration and creativity in retail are the root of my drive.”   “We’ve heard a lot this summer that it is important to gain experience in the industry outside of your specific role. What advice can you give on how to achieve that?” another scholar asked.  “Being able to gain an understanding of other areas needs to be a crucial part of your internship or job experience,” Marty stressed. “When you are looking for a job, you need to make sure that exposure to different areas is something that company can offer you. A job interview is as much for the applicant as it is for the employer. Part of your evaluation as an applicant needs to be whether you can get exposure to a wide range of topics while in that position.”

Our scholars were eager to ask such a season retail executive questions about his experiences. “What do you love most about retail?” one scholar asked. “I started as an assistant buyer for sweaters,” Marty shared. “My boss once gave me about 1200 sweaters and told me to set them up in the store by color and organize the display. To the average person, this might sound like the most horrible job in the world. To me, it was amazing. I couldn’t get enough. ‘Does the grey look best by the light pink or the pale blue? Does the pale blue look best by the lime?’ I would ask myself. When I finished setting up the display, it felt great knowing that when the customer sees it they could be inspired to make a purchase. The inspiration and creativity in retail are the root of my drive.”

“We’ve heard a lot this summer that it is important to gain experience in the industry outside of your specific role. What advice can you give on how to achieve that?” another scholar asked. “Being able to gain an understanding of other areas needs to be a crucial part of your internship or job experience,” Marty stressed. “When you are looking for a job, you need to make sure that exposure to different areas is something that company can offer you. A job interview is as much for the applicant as it is for the employer. Part of your evaluation as an applicant needs to be whether you can get exposure to a wide range of topics while in that position.”

  “You’ve worked with a number of very successful and well established brands,” a scholar noted. “How are brands able to continue to drive excitement when it seems as though they’ve reached their peak?”  Marty provided some insights on the different way organizations can approach this. “Many companies generate new revenue streams by creating other collections, like direct-to-retailer lines. Ralph Lauren did this when they formed Chaps, and it was a great success. Companies also often partake in collaborations to freshen up their brand image. Brooks Brothers did this with Supreme and it worked wonders for their brand. Louis Vuitton recently released a collaboration with Supreme as well.” Collaborations are a great way to generate new energy within a brand and stimulate excitement. 

“You’ve worked with a number of very successful and well established brands,” a scholar noted. “How are brands able to continue to drive excitement when it seems as though they’ve reached their peak?” Marty provided some insights on the different way organizations can approach this. “Many companies generate new revenue streams by creating other collections, like direct-to-retailer lines. Ralph Lauren did this when they formed Chaps, and it was a great success. Companies also often partake in collaborations to freshen up their brand image. Brooks Brothers did this with Supreme and it worked wonders for their brand. Louis Vuitton recently released a collaboration with Supreme as well.” Collaborations are a great way to generate new energy within a brand and stimulate excitement. 

   Marty’s Words of Wisdom:    If you don’t love this profession, you won’t do well. This industry becomes your life, not just your job.  In the retail market, you cannot be average at what you do and expect to succeed.  The price of an item is not about whether it is “expensive” or “cheap” – it is a question of whether the cost is worth it to the buyer.  In a stagnant industry, you need to create the demand and then fill it.  Love what you do and live what you love.

Marty’s Words of Wisdom:

If you don’t love this profession, you won’t do well. This industry becomes your life, not just your job.

In the retail market, you cannot be average at what you do and expect to succeed.

The price of an item is not about whether it is “expensive” or “cheap” – it is a question of whether the cost is worth it to the buyer.

In a stagnant industry, you need to create the demand and then fill it.

Love what you do and live what you love.

Macy’s Networking Session – Marc Mastronardi & YMA FSF Alumni Panel

 YMA FSF Board of Governor and FSF Scholarship Chair Marc Mastronardi recently shared his time with our scholars, delivering an inspirational speech on his experiences in retail and answering their questions on the future of the industry. Marc has been with Macy’s for over 20 years and is currently the EVP of New Business Development and Innovation. While Marc has excelled in the retail world, when he was an undergraduate student he expected his career to take him elsewhere. Having studied finance and accounting at Boston College, Mastronardi had every intention of pursuing a career in finance upon graduation. A visit to his university from the then CEO of Filene’s completely changed his perspective. After the CEO’s speech, Marc was able to speak with her for a few minutes. It was then that she convinced Mastronardi to give retail a try. Marc accepted her offer and decided to venture out into retail; he hasn’t looked back since.  After Macy’s acquisition of Filene’s, Marc worked his way through a number of roles and departments at Macy’s, including General Merchandise Manager. In his current role in New Business Development, Marc and his team work to find innovative ways to advance Macy’s as a company and continue to excel at retail. As the landscape of the industry is quickly evolving, the presence of a team like Marc’s is more important than ever. 

YMA FSF Board of Governor and FSF Scholarship Chair Marc Mastronardi recently shared his time with our scholars, delivering an inspirational speech on his experiences in retail and answering their questions on the future of the industry. Marc has been with Macy’s for over 20 years and is currently the EVP of New Business Development and Innovation. While Marc has excelled in the retail world, when he was an undergraduate student he expected his career to take him elsewhere. Having studied finance and accounting at Boston College, Mastronardi had every intention of pursuing a career in finance upon graduation. A visit to his university from the then CEO of Filene’s completely changed his perspective. After the CEO’s speech, Marc was able to speak with her for a few minutes. It was then that she convinced Mastronardi to give retail a try. Marc accepted her offer and decided to venture out into retail; he hasn’t looked back since.

After Macy’s acquisition of Filene’s, Marc worked his way through a number of roles and departments at Macy’s, including General Merchandise Manager. In his current role in New Business Development, Marc and his team work to find innovative ways to advance Macy’s as a company and continue to excel at retail. As the landscape of the industry is quickly evolving, the presence of a team like Marc’s is more important than ever. 

 A major discussion topic in the industry at the moment is how to keep brick and mortar relevant. In New York City, many companies are able to create large and exciting brick and mortar locations that can’t be experienced in the same way elsewhere in the country. “ How is Macy’s trying to bring the experiences found in the Herald Square location to the rest of their stores across the country?” one scholar asked.  “ There is no doubt that this location is special,” Marc said, “And we want to keep it special. Nevertheless, there are definitely entertainment features in this location that we can bring into our other locations. We will bring it physically or digitally through emerging technologies, which are really not so far off anymore. We are always looking for ways to make the in-store experience more important and enjoyable.”    “What do you see the future of department stores to be?” another scholar said.  Mastronardi responded that there has certainly been some disruption in the way department stores function. “The role of stores is changing. They will no longer only be the place of commerce,” he stated. “Stores will also be more so a place of discovery and inspiration. Technologies are likely to have scale in the future. Virtual reality, 3D printing –these are all likely to have a role in stores moving forward. If you can make it work correctly, department stores can be the anchors of a lot of communities.”

A major discussion topic in the industry at the moment is how to keep brick and mortar relevant. In New York City, many companies are able to create large and exciting brick and mortar locations that can’t be experienced in the same way elsewhere in the country. “How is Macy’s trying to bring the experiences found in the Herald Square location to the rest of their stores across the country?” one scholar asked.  “There is no doubt that this location is special,” Marc said, “And we want to keep it special. Nevertheless, there are definitely entertainment features in this location that we can bring into our other locations. We will bring it physically or digitally through emerging technologies, which are really not so far off anymore. We are always looking for ways to make the in-store experience more important and enjoyable.”

 “What do you see the future of department stores to be?” another scholar said. Mastronardi responded that there has certainly been some disruption in the way department stores function. “The role of stores is changing. They will no longer only be the place of commerce,” he stated. “Stores will also be more so a place of discovery and inspiration. Technologies are likely to have scale in the future. Virtual reality, 3D printing –these are all likely to have a role in stores moving forward. If you can make it work correctly, department stores can be the anchors of a lot of communities.”

 After Marc spoke, our scholars were given the opportunity to hear from a panel of FSF alumni who are currently employed at Macy’s in a wide array of departments. The alumni in attendance were Patrick McCabe, Designer for Men's Dress Shirts and Neckwear, Felicia Podberesky, Associate Designer for JM Collection, Abbie Luzecky, Omni Associate Merchandise Planner, Marlena Meyer, Analytical Consulting Manager, and Samantha Duke, Product Manager for Men's Dress Shirts. Nicole Rosario, a member of Macy’s Human Resources Executive Development Program, moderated the panel.    Nicole began by asking the alumni to go over what their job entails and the role they play within the company.  “I work in product development,” said Samantha.  “I went to school for fashion merchandising and always knew I wanted to do something outside of buying, but wasn’t really quite sure what it was. I think product development is the perfect combination of the art and the science of this industry. There’s a lot of math, science, and business analytical skills involved, but there is also a very fun, creative, product-focused side to it. When you’re in product development at Macy’s, you get to touch every single part of the organization in one day. You’re constantly in connection with your buyer and your planner, creating strategies for the season you’re going into. You’re working on so many things at once. You have to constantly be thinking ahead.” 

After Marc spoke, our scholars were given the opportunity to hear from a panel of FSF alumni who are currently employed at Macy’s in a wide array of departments. The alumni in attendance were Patrick McCabe, Designer for Men's Dress Shirts and Neckwear, Felicia Podberesky, Associate Designer for JM Collection, Abbie Luzecky, Omni Associate Merchandise Planner, Marlena Meyer, Analytical Consulting Manager, and Samantha Duke, Product Manager for Men's Dress Shirts. Nicole Rosario, a member of Macy’s Human Resources Executive Development Program, moderated the panel. 

Nicole began by asking the alumni to go over what their job entails and the role they play within the company. “I work in product development,” said Samantha.  “I went to school for fashion merchandising and always knew I wanted to do something outside of buying, but wasn’t really quite sure what it was. I think product development is the perfect combination of the art and the science of this industry. There’s a lot of math, science, and business analytical skills involved, but there is also a very fun, creative, product-focused side to it. When you’re in product development at Macy’s, you get to touch every single part of the organization in one day. You’re constantly in connection with your buyer and your planner, creating strategies for the season you’re going into. You’re working on so many things at once. You have to constantly be thinking ahead.” 

 Marlena went on to speak about her past role as a buyer within the organization. “The buyer really focuses on the product and on the relationship with the vendor,” she said. “They work really closely with the planner to understand what is the right product at the right time in the right location. The time and location is much more for the planner to focus on, and the product is for the buyer. Some other topics that the buyer works on are marketing and pricing. Additionally, while Macys.com and Macy’s are now merged, we still have a separate role called the “digital merchant” just for Macys.com, which can be described as a store manager for our online division. As a buyer, you work a lot with the digital merchant to discover what products need to be purchased for the online site.” The panel all agreed that this is a fast paced industry in which things are constantly changing. “Each day is different, and as a planner you need to stay up to date with in-store and online purchases,” Abbie added. “No day is the same.”   Nicole then went on to ask our panel what they felt were some of the most important skills needed to be successful in this industry. “ From a design perspective, things can change very quickly,” Felicia said. "You need to constantly have new ideas and try to push the envelope in terms of what you are creating. Even if your customer is not the trendiest or most fashionable, she still wants something new and wants to feel beautiful. You have to figure out what is new to her, and give it to her."  Patrick added to the necessary skills for a designer. “You obviously need to understand Illustrator, Photoshop, and how to put together a tech pack,” he said, “But I think the most important thing I’ve learned is how to understand your customer and what they’re looking for. You need to understand what they want – not just for right now, but what they will be looking for one year from now. Being able to define what a brand means is important.”

Marlena went on to speak about her past role as a buyer within the organization. “The buyer really focuses on the product and on the relationship with the vendor,” she said. “They work really closely with the planner to understand what is the right product at the right time in the right location. The time and location is much more for the planner to focus on, and the product is for the buyer. Some other topics that the buyer works on are marketing and pricing. Additionally, while Macys.com and Macy’s are now merged, we still have a separate role called the “digital merchant” just for Macys.com, which can be described as a store manager for our online division. As a buyer, you work a lot with the digital merchant to discover what products need to be purchased for the online site.” The panel all agreed that this is a fast paced industry in which things are constantly changing. “Each day is different, and as a planner you need to stay up to date with in-store and online purchases,” Abbie added. “No day is the same.”

Nicole then went on to ask our panel what they felt were some of the most important skills needed to be successful in this industry. “From a design perspective, things can change very quickly,” Felicia said. "You need to constantly have new ideas and try to push the envelope in terms of what you are creating. Even if your customer is not the trendiest or most fashionable, she still wants something new and wants to feel beautiful. You have to figure out what is new to her, and give it to her."

Patrick added to the necessary skills for a designer. “You obviously need to understand Illustrator, Photoshop, and how to put together a tech pack,” he said, “But I think the most important thing I’ve learned is how to understand your customer and what they’re looking for. You need to understand what they want – not just for right now, but what they will be looking for one year from now. Being able to define what a brand means is important.”

   Macy’s Words of Wisdom:    Networking really is a job. It is a commitment to the effort, not a social engagement.  If you want to create a best in class customer experience, pay attention to every detail.  Whether or not your customer is considered the trendiest or the most fashionable, she still wants something new, and wants to feel beautiful. You have to figure out what is new to her, and bring it to her.  For the customer, it is not just about shopping for ‘you’, it’s about shopping for ‘you in this moment.’

Macy’s Words of Wisdom:

Networking really is a job. It is a commitment to the effort, not a social engagement.

If you want to create a best in class customer experience, pay attention to every detail.

Whether or not your customer is considered the trendiest or the most fashionable, she still wants something new, and wants to feel beautiful. You have to figure out what is new to her, and bring it to her.

For the customer, it is not just about shopping for ‘you’, it’s about shopping for ‘you in this moment.’

Breakfast with the Boss - Malie Bingham, PVH

 Malie Bingham has been a designer at PVH since 2002, specializing in cut & sew knits and sweaters. In 2016, Malie founded Pick Glass, an online resource for fashion industry professionals.  She uses her platform to help educate industry members on how to navigate their network and stay up to date with what is going on in the fashion world. Malie is an involved member of the YMA FSF community, and our scholars were fortunate enough to be able receive advice from her on how to approach networking in the fashion industry.   “Tell me the truth,” Malie asked, “What do you all think about networking? When people hear the word ‘networking,’ a lot of people think about networking events, reaching out to brands or influencers that you like, or having friends introduce you to someone you might like to know. The truth is, you always need to be networking.” Malie explained that networking is an important aspect of everyday life. Whether you’re looking for a new job, trying to promote your work, or just looking to stay up to date with the happenings in the industry, you need to build a strong network.  “You don’t only network when you are looking for a job; you network to create a group of people that you can always turn to for support in helping you reach your goals.”  When it comes to networking, many people wait until they need something from others to reach out. Malie advised our scholars not to do so. “Don’t wait to connect with people until you need something. Keep them updated on your work; create a conversation. This way, when you do need something, it can come up naturally and won’t seem rude.” Bingham also pointed out that connecting with people who work at companies of interest to you is a good way to get your foot in the door. “It is proven that you will get more jobs through people that you know, instead of just by applying to jobs posted on job boards.  Connect with humans, not a black hole, and you are more likely to see positive results.”

Malie Bingham has been a designer at PVH since 2002, specializing in cut & sew knits and sweaters. In 2016, Malie founded Pick Glass, an online resource for fashion industry professionals.  She uses her platform to help educate industry members on how to navigate their network and stay up to date with what is going on in the fashion world. Malie is an involved member of the YMA FSF community, and our scholars were fortunate enough to be able receive advice from her on how to approach networking in the fashion industry.

 “Tell me the truth,” Malie asked, “What do you all think about networking? When people hear the word ‘networking,’ a lot of people think about networking events, reaching out to brands or influencers that you like, or having friends introduce you to someone you might like to know. The truth is, you always need to be networking.” Malie explained that networking is an important aspect of everyday life. Whether you’re looking for a new job, trying to promote your work, or just looking to stay up to date with the happenings in the industry, you need to build a strong network.  “You don’t only network when you are looking for a job; you network to create a group of people that you can always turn to for support in helping you reach your goals.”

When it comes to networking, many people wait until they need something from others to reach out. Malie advised our scholars not to do so. “Don’t wait to connect with people until you need something. Keep them updated on your work; create a conversation. This way, when you do need something, it can come up naturally and won’t seem rude.” Bingham also pointed out that connecting with people who work at companies of interest to you is a good way to get your foot in the door. “It is proven that you will get more jobs through people that you know, instead of just by applying to jobs posted on job boards.  Connect with humans, not a black hole, and you are more likely to see positive results.”

 Growing your network is a truly fundamental part of progressing on your own career journey. “Your network is your net worth,” Malie said. “Many people feel like your work should speak for itself, so you need to make sure that your network knows your work and its value. When your network knows the worth of your work, more opportunities will come your way.” The hardest part of networking for many people is not the initial connection, but staying in touch later. Malie stressed that keeping your connections in the loop as you further your career is a great way to strengthen your ties. She went on to explain that staying in touch doesn’t have to be complicated. “For example, before you leave your job this summer, send your superiors personalized thank you notes,” she suggested. She also recommended initiating conversation on LinkedIn or through email by asking your connections a question, such as “Are you still working at XYZ Company?” Using a question to begin a conversation raises your chances of getting a response.

Growing your network is a truly fundamental part of progressing on your own career journey. “Your network is your net worth,” Malie said. “Many people feel like your work should speak for itself, so you need to make sure that your network knows your work and its value. When your network knows the worth of your work, more opportunities will come your way.” The hardest part of networking for many people is not the initial connection, but staying in touch later. Malie stressed that keeping your connections in the loop as you further your career is a great way to strengthen your ties. She went on to explain that staying in touch doesn’t have to be complicated. “For example, before you leave your job this summer, send your superiors personalized thank you notes,” she suggested. She also recommended initiating conversation on LinkedIn or through email by asking your connections a question, such as “Are you still working at XYZ Company?” Using a question to begin a conversation raises your chances of getting a response.

  “You said a good way to connect with people is to update them on what you’re involved in. Are people really interested in keeping up with that we are doing?” one scholar asked.  “Yes,” Malie replied, “But you should try and ask them about themselves as well. You can thank people for the time they’ve spent with you or for things they’ve taught you; people like to feel appreciated. Make the person you’re connecting with feel good about it.”    “In the past after an internship,” another student asked, “I’d ask for a letter of recommendation, and I wouldn’t receive a response. How do I deal with that type of situation?”  Malie reiterated the importance of following up with your connections. “I know a lot of people are very busy in this industry,” Malie said. “Try following up a second time to give them a gentle nudge. Additionally, you could even write a recommendation for them on LinkedIn! Do a small write up of how much you enjoyed working there and what you learned.”   “Networking is really important in every career field,” one scholar noted. “How does the fashion industry differ in terms of networking?”  Malie responded that the fashion industry is a lot more concentrated on partnership. “I think that it’s more about collaboration in the fashion industry. PVH is a huge company with many buildings. Even so, I’ve had to work with lots of people in many different departments to get projects completed. People are also doing tons of start-ups now in collaboration with many other different people – not just other fashion industry workers, but people from every sector,” she said. “Collaboration is the new currency.”

“You said a good way to connect with people is to update them on what you’re involved in. Are people really interested in keeping up with that we are doing?” one scholar asked. “Yes,” Malie replied, “But you should try and ask them about themselves as well. You can thank people for the time they’ve spent with you or for things they’ve taught you; people like to feel appreciated. Make the person you’re connecting with feel good about it.”
 
“In the past after an internship,” another student asked, “I’d ask for a letter of recommendation, and I wouldn’t receive a response. How do I deal with that type of situation?” Malie reiterated the importance of following up with your connections. “I know a lot of people are very busy in this industry,” Malie said. “Try following up a second time to give them a gentle nudge. Additionally, you could even write a recommendation for them on LinkedIn! Do a small write up of how much you enjoyed working there and what you learned.”

“Networking is really important in every career field,” one scholar noted. “How does the fashion industry differ in terms of networking?” Malie responded that the fashion industry is a lot more concentrated on partnership. “I think that it’s more about collaboration in the fashion industry. PVH is a huge company with many buildings. Even so, I’ve had to work with lots of people in many different departments to get projects completed. People are also doing tons of start-ups now in collaboration with many other different people – not just other fashion industry workers, but people from every sector,” she said. “Collaboration is the new currency.”

   Malie’s Words of Wisdom :   “Connect with humans and not a black hole.”  “Your network is your net worth.”  “Collaboration is the new currency.”  “Always try to give more than you get.”

Malie’s Words of Wisdom:

“Connect with humans and not a black hole.”

“Your network is your net worth.”

“Collaboration is the new currency.”

“Always try to give more than you get.”

Breakfast with the Boss: Dana Manciagli, Global Career Expert & Job Search Coach

 Dana Manciagli has spent the majority of her life working on the hiring side of business; she’s become quite an expert on job search and recruiting processes. She had a plethora of amazing tips to share during her presentation with our scholars.  Dana began her professional career working at IBM in sales. She later worked with a number of global companies that gave her the opportunity to travel internationally and experience the business world in Asia, Europe, and Latin America. After coming back to the United States to work at Kodak and Microsoft, Dana decided it was time to branch out on her own and begin life as an entrepreneur. She started her own business as an executive and job search coach, author, and speaker.

Dana Manciagli has spent the majority of her life working on the hiring side of business; she’s become quite an expert on job search and recruiting processes. She had a plethora of amazing tips to share during her presentation with our scholars.

Dana began her professional career working at IBM in sales. She later worked with a number of global companies that gave her the opportunity to travel internationally and experience the business world in Asia, Europe, and Latin America. After coming back to the United States to work at Kodak and Microsoft, Dana decided it was time to branch out on her own and begin life as an entrepreneur. She started her own business as an executive and job search coach, author, and speaker.

 Dana poured a great deal of her expertise into her book,  Cut the Crap™, Get a Job! A New Job Search Process for a New Era , which she accompanied with an in-depth digital guide to job search. During her event with the YMA, Dana walked our scholars through her program and gave them advice on how to optimize their job search processes. “On a scale of one to ten,” Dana asked, “how do you all feel about the idea of looking for a job?” Many scholars admitted that they were rather apprehensive about the procedure, and weren’t quite sure where to begin. “It is okay to be nervous. By the end of this session, we’re going to raise your confidence and your ability to look for a job,” Manciagli encouraged.  “When job searching, I believe there are two kinds of ‘crap,’” Dana explained. “The first is excuses. Don’t let the idea that you are not qualified enough or too inexperienced prevent you from applying for jobs,” she said. “The second is mistakes. There are a number of popular mistakes that hold people back from getting the job of their choice. With a few simple changes, you can avoid making those.”  Dana went on to explain that because the job process has changed in the past few years, there are many more people applying to the same jobs. This means that recruiters don’t have time for errors like typos on résumés or candidates arriving late to interviews. Avoiding mistakes such as these can go a long way toward helping you further your career.

Dana poured a great deal of her expertise into her book, Cut the Crap™, Get a Job! A New Job Search Process for a New Era, which she accompanied with an in-depth digital guide to job search. During her event with the YMA, Dana walked our scholars through her program and gave them advice on how to optimize their job search processes. “On a scale of one to ten,” Dana asked, “how do you all feel about the idea of looking for a job?” Many scholars admitted that they were rather apprehensive about the procedure, and weren’t quite sure where to begin. “It is okay to be nervous. By the end of this session, we’re going to raise your confidence and your ability to look for a job,” Manciagli encouraged.

“When job searching, I believe there are two kinds of ‘crap,’” Dana explained. “The first is excuses. Don’t let the idea that you are not qualified enough or too inexperienced prevent you from applying for jobs,” she said. “The second is mistakes. There are a number of popular mistakes that hold people back from getting the job of their choice. With a few simple changes, you can avoid making those.”

Dana went on to explain that because the job process has changed in the past few years, there are many more people applying to the same jobs. This means that recruiters don’t have time for errors like typos on résumés or candidates arriving late to interviews. Avoiding mistakes such as these can go a long way toward helping you further your career.

 “There are five struggles that job seekers commonly face,” Dana stated. “First, many people apply to a number of jobs through online job boards without doing any research beforehand.” Dana told our scholars that when looking for jobs, they need to first figure out what they want from their careers, and then research the job roles available that fit their desired goals. To validate how realistic their dream job is, Dana encouraged our scholars to try to find ten jobs online that fit the description they created. “If you can’t find ten jobs that match you desired description, you’re looking for a unicorn,” she shared. Armed with this knowledge about your career path options, you can then make your way to the job search preparation phase.  “Often people don’t take the process of looking for jobs as seriously as they take their current job projects or their school work,” Manciagli went on. “Why are most job-seekers very organized when it comes to school or work, but use yellow sticky notes to track their job applications? You need to stay organized and focused when it comes to planning for your future career, and take it as seriously as you would take any other professional engagement.”  “Additionally,” Dana went on, “You need to tailor your approach to the company you’re applying to. They are the buyer and you are the product. You have to fit their needs if you want to work there. The last two most common mistakes are ones that are easily avoidable – being unprepared for interviews, and being a poor networker. Do your research ahead of time and arrive prepared.”

“There are five struggles that job seekers commonly face,” Dana stated. “First, many people apply to a number of jobs through online job boards without doing any research beforehand.” Dana told our scholars that when looking for jobs, they need to first figure out what they want from their careers, and then research the job roles available that fit their desired goals. To validate how realistic their dream job is, Dana encouraged our scholars to try to find ten jobs online that fit the description they created. “If you can’t find ten jobs that match you desired description, you’re looking for a unicorn,” she shared. Armed with this knowledge about your career path options, you can then make your way to the job search preparation phase.

“Often people don’t take the process of looking for jobs as seriously as they take their current job projects or their school work,” Manciagli went on. “Why are most job-seekers very organized when it comes to school or work, but use yellow sticky notes to track their job applications? You need to stay organized and focused when it comes to planning for your future career, and take it as seriously as you would take any other professional engagement.”

“Additionally,” Dana went on, “You need to tailor your approach to the company you’re applying to. They are the buyer and you are the product. You have to fit their needs if you want to work there. The last two most common mistakes are ones that are easily avoidable – being unprepared for interviews, and being a poor networker. Do your research ahead of time and arrive prepared.”

 Dana then led the scholars through the three major phases of searching for a job – setting your goal, doing your research, and applying and interviewing. When setting your goal, she stressed having specific details in mind. “You need to figure out what you’re looking for. Don’t be vague – define the functional area, industry, company type, company size, and location you are interested in,” she said. “Hiring managers want to hire people who are passionate about their jobs. When searching for positions to apply to, it’s okay to keep your options open. However, when approached by a recruiter for a specific company position, you need to show your relevance and passion for that exact position. You can present two paths you are interested in if needed, but it’s important to show confidence in the direction in which you want to head.”  Dana then delivered some tips about résumé formatting, going over the standard resume layouts our scholars should be using, and optimum organization of the content. We then moved into LinkedIn etiquette. “When you connect with others on LinkedIn, be sure to do so on your computer, not on your phone. This way you are able to send a personalized message to each person you connect with,” she urged. “Doing so significantly raises the chances of your connection request being accepted.”  Equipped with Dana’s advice, our scholars left feeling a lot better about the job search process than they did before the workshop. When it comes to looking for a job, you need to do your research, and properly prepare. If you give the job search process the attention and dedication it requires, you’re bound to see results.

Dana then led the scholars through the three major phases of searching for a job – setting your goal, doing your research, and applying and interviewing. When setting your goal, she stressed having specific details in mind. “You need to figure out what you’re looking for. Don’t be vague – define the functional area, industry, company type, company size, and location you are interested in,” she said. “Hiring managers want to hire people who are passionate about their jobs. When searching for positions to apply to, it’s okay to keep your options open. However, when approached by a recruiter for a specific company position, you need to show your relevance and passion for that exact position. You can present two paths you are interested in if needed, but it’s important to show confidence in the direction in which you want to head.”

Dana then delivered some tips about résumé formatting, going over the standard resume layouts our scholars should be using, and optimum organization of the content. We then moved into LinkedIn etiquette. “When you connect with others on LinkedIn, be sure to do so on your computer, not on your phone. This way you are able to send a personalized message to each person you connect with,” she urged. “Doing so significantly raises the chances of your connection request being accepted.”

Equipped with Dana’s advice, our scholars left feeling a lot better about the job search process than they did before the workshop. When it comes to looking for a job, you need to do your research, and properly prepare. If you give the job search process the attention and dedication it requires, you’re bound to see results.

   Dana’s Words of Wisdom:    You need to take the job search process as seriously as you take your current employment or schoolwork. There are no shortcuts.  Don’t let inexperience stop you from going after jobs.  Hiring managers want to hire people who are passionate about their jobs.

Dana’s Words of Wisdom:

You need to take the job search process as seriously as you take your current employment or schoolwork. There are no shortcuts.

Don’t let inexperience stop you from going after jobs.

Hiring managers want to hire people who are passionate about their jobs.

Breakfast with the Boss: Ilse Metchek, The California Fashion Association

 Ilse Metchek, founder of the California Fashion Association, has been a part of the fashion industry for all of her professional career. She began her journey as a fitting model, showroom salesperson, and designer, working her way up to own the company she worked for. She then became president of White Stag Inc., a women’s clothing brand owned by Warnaco. Subsequently, she became the executive director of the California Mart (now the California Market Center) where she established the California Fashion Association as a non-profit business-to-business organization to provide information for expansion and growth to the apparel and textile industry of California. Given her extensive experience in the industry, Ilse was able to provide our scholars with an amazingly in-depth overview of the industry.    

Ilse Metchek, founder of the California Fashion Association, has been a part of the fashion industry for all of her professional career. She began her journey as a fitting model, showroom salesperson, and designer, working her way up to own the company she worked for. She then became president of White Stag Inc., a women’s clothing brand owned by Warnaco. Subsequently, she became the executive director of the California Mart (now the California Market Center) where she established the California Fashion Association as a non-profit business-to-business organization to provide information for expansion and growth to the apparel and textile industry of California. Given her extensive experience in the industry, Ilse was able to provide our scholars with an amazingly in-depth overview of the industry. 

 

 “Fashion functions differently from other businesses, so you need to approach it differently,” Isle said. It is the intersection of business and creativity. It takes great creativity, but it demands analytical and administrative skills as well. Ilse began her outline of the industry by discussing distribution. “In the United States,” Ilse explained, “There is no single way to get your product into stores and homes. There are a multitude of different channels that you need to understand.” Today, purchases for retail goods can be made through television infomercials, mobile sites, pop-up shops, catalogs, and much more - all in addition to traditional brick and mortar retail stores. This multi-channel approach has a strong impact on the overall functionality of the retail industry. “Fashion doesn’t start in big department store chains,” Ilse stated,  “It starts in the mom and pop shops, and with the cool kids – where people will attempt new styles and trends without fear of failure. When trends take off in the small stores, then they will make it into the big chains and head towards mass production.” Metchek went on to say that in today’s technologically dominated world, it is clear that sales for fashion apparel in traditional department stores are in decline. The new retail cash cow, however, is off price retailing. Saks Off Fifth, Nordstrom Rack, and Macy’s Backstage are brick and mortar locations that have the potential to succeed because of the treasure-hunt experience they give consumers. With the recent surge in e-commerce, consumers need to feel a reason to come in to physical stores. Off price retailers provide them with the needed motivation.   

“Fashion functions differently from other businesses, so you need to approach it differently,” Isle said. It is the intersection of business and creativity. It takes great creativity, but it demands analytical and administrative skills as well. Ilse began her outline of the industry by discussing distribution. “In the United States,” Ilse explained, “There is no single way to get your product into stores and homes. There are a multitude of different channels that you need to understand.” Today, purchases for retail goods can be made through television infomercials, mobile sites, pop-up shops, catalogs, and much more - all in addition to traditional brick and mortar retail stores. This multi-channel approach has a strong impact on the overall functionality of the retail industry.
“Fashion doesn’t start in big department store chains,” Ilse stated,  “It starts in the mom and pop shops, and with the cool kids – where people will attempt new styles and trends without fear of failure. When trends take off in the small stores, then they will make it into the big chains and head towards mass production.” Metchek went on to say that in today’s technologically dominated world, it is clear that sales for fashion apparel in traditional department stores are in decline. The new retail cash cow, however, is off price retailing. Saks Off Fifth, Nordstrom Rack, and Macy’s Backstage are brick and mortar locations that have the potential to succeed because of the treasure-hunt experience they give consumers. With the recent surge in e-commerce, consumers need to feel a reason to come in to physical stores. Off price retailers provide them with the needed motivation.

 

    Metchek went on to discuss sourcing, another crucial part of the retail process. “Why do so many companies use global sourcing?” Ilse asked. “They do so because of the difference in production costs and regulations abroad.” She explained that while producing goods domestically provides you with higher margins, more control over the process, and a quicker turnaround, it is a much more expensive process. Polls show that while many American consumers say that they are interested in “made-in-USA” apparel, they are not willing to pay a substantially higher price for domestically produced goods. Ilse explained that for this reason, the majority of major companies choose to engage in production overseas. International production used to be predominantly concentrated in China, but over the last decade or so we’ve seen some dispersal into other countries and regions. Metchek emphasized that because of this, it is imperative that you understand geography when working in this industry. “Which country is best for manufacturing swimsuits?” Ilse said. “How much are customs and duties there? How many factories do they have available? This is all information you need.”  “One of the biggest issues in retail is intellectual property,” Ilse stated.  She went on to explain some of the legalities involved with the issue. “While trademarks are necessary in this industry, patents are rare.” Trademarks refer to logos, phrases, and symbols, while patents refer to designs and technology. Copyrights are used to protect artwork, and are one of the more complicated parts of retail. Trade Dress refers to images that are recognized as associated with a certain brand, without the need for a logo or brand names. This refers to things like the blue box and white ribbon associated with Tiffany’s, and the classic red bottom of Louboutin shoes. While there are no obvious logos on these items, it is very clear that they belong to a certain company. Ilse went on to speak about the current discussion about the legality of ‘knock-offs’ and how the recent technological boom has led to a rise in counterfeiting. With regard to ‘copying’, she quoted Marc Jacobs as stating, “Nothing is truly original anymore; when you’re talking about fashion, lose the word ‘original’.” Coco Chanel is quoted as saying “Being copied is the ransom of success.’”   

 Metchek went on to discuss sourcing, another crucial part of the retail process. “Why do so many companies use global sourcing?” Ilse asked. “They do so because of the difference in production costs and regulations abroad.” She explained that while producing goods domestically provides you with higher margins, more control over the process, and a quicker turnaround, it is a much more expensive process. Polls show that while many American consumers say that they are interested in “made-in-USA” apparel, they are not willing to pay a substantially higher price for domestically produced goods. Ilse explained that for this reason, the majority of major companies choose to engage in production overseas. International production used to be predominantly concentrated in China, but over the last decade or so we’ve seen some dispersal into other countries and regions. Metchek emphasized that because of this, it is imperative that you understand geography when working in this industry. “Which country is best for manufacturing swimsuits?” Ilse said. “How much are customs and duties there? How many factories do they have available? This is all information you need.”

“One of the biggest issues in retail is intellectual property,” Ilse stated.  She went on to explain some of the legalities involved with the issue. “While trademarks are necessary in this industry, patents are rare.” Trademarks refer to logos, phrases, and symbols, while patents refer to designs and technology. Copyrights are used to protect artwork, and are one of the more complicated parts of retail. Trade Dress refers to images that are recognized as associated with a certain brand, without the need for a logo or brand names. This refers to things like the blue box and white ribbon associated with Tiffany’s, and the classic red bottom of Louboutin shoes. While there are no obvious logos on these items, it is very clear that they belong to a certain company. Ilse went on to speak about the current discussion about the legality of ‘knock-offs’ and how the recent technological boom has led to a rise in counterfeiting. With regard to ‘copying’, she quoted Marc Jacobs as stating, “Nothing is truly original anymore; when you’re talking about fashion, lose the word ‘original’.” Coco Chanel is quoted as saying “Being copied is the ransom of success.’”

 

  With retail’s rapidly changing landscape, major companies are making big changes in attempts to keep up. “What do you think of Wal-Mart buying Modcloth and Bonobos?” one scholar asked.  “I think Wal-Mart woke up!” Ilse responded. “But still, they are going to have to compete with Amazon and the brands that Amazon is launching. In the past when stores like Wal-Mart bought brands, they became the manufacturer and, in some cases, reduced the quality drastically. Now the trend is for the retailers to let the brands they buy continue to manufacture the product as long as they fit the correct price point. This allows for quality control.”     Environmentalism has also been a recent trend on the rise, not just in retail, but also in a large array of industries. “How do you feel about sustainability in retail?” another student inquired.  “It’s hard to say,” replied Metchek honestly. “What really is sustainability? It means different things depending on the angle from which you approach it. The use of different varieties of products has an assortment of benefits and drawbacks depending on your perspective.” She explained that, on the whole, there is no one sustainable method of production for retail. We can do our best to not be wasteful, but a cure-all has yet to be found.     When it comes to succeeding in the retail world, you really need to ground yourself in a deep knowledge of the industry. One scholar asked Ilse, “Where do you look to gather research on the retail world?”  She responded, “In general, look to history, celebrities, and visuals. The way fashion happens is through creativity, but the reason it happens can be traced to economics and a historical perspective.”   

With retail’s rapidly changing landscape, major companies are making big changes in attempts to keep up. “What do you think of Wal-Mart buying Modcloth and Bonobos?” one scholar asked. “I think Wal-Mart woke up!” Ilse responded. “But still, they are going to have to compete with Amazon and the brands that Amazon is launching. In the past when stores like Wal-Mart bought brands, they became the manufacturer and, in some cases, reduced the quality drastically. Now the trend is for the retailers to let the brands they buy continue to manufacture the product as long as they fit the correct price point. This allows for quality control.”
 

Environmentalism has also been a recent trend on the rise, not just in retail, but also in a large array of industries. “How do you feel about sustainability in retail?” another student inquired. “It’s hard to say,” replied Metchek honestly. “What really is sustainability? It means different things depending on the angle from which you approach it. The use of different varieties of products has an assortment of benefits and drawbacks depending on your perspective.” She explained that, on the whole, there is no one sustainable method of production for retail. We can do our best to not be wasteful, but a cure-all has yet to be found.
 

When it comes to succeeding in the retail world, you really need to ground yourself in a deep knowledge of the industry. One scholar asked Ilse, “Where do you look to gather research on the retail world?” She responded, “In general, look to history, celebrities, and visuals. The way fashion happens is through creativity, but the reason it happens can be traced to economics and a historical perspective.”

 

   Ilse Metchek’s Words of Wisdom    “Fashion doesn’t start in big department store chains, it starts in the mom and pop shops, and with the cool kids – where people will attempt new styles and trends without fear of failure.”  “As Marc Jacobs said, ‘When you’re talking about fashion, lose the word “original” - and Coco Chanel said, “Being copied is the ransom of success.’”  “Retail is where business meets creativity. We need both to succeed.”  “The way fashion happened is through creativity, but the reason it happen can be traced to economics and a historical perspective.”

Ilse Metchek’s Words of Wisdom

“Fashion doesn’t start in big department store chains, it starts in the mom and pop shops, and with the cool kids – where people will attempt new styles and trends without fear of failure.”

“As Marc Jacobs said, ‘When you’re talking about fashion, lose the word “original” - and Coco Chanel said, “Being copied is the ransom of success.’”

“Retail is where business meets creativity. We need both to succeed.”

“The way fashion happened is through creativity, but the reason it happen can be traced to economics and a historical perspective.”