For July’s installment of Breakfast with the Boss, Hope Brick, Vice President of Design at Weissman’s Designs for Dance, joined Scholars at the Doneger office to talk about her life and career in the fashion industry. As FSF Scholars embark on the last few weeks of their summer internships in New York City, Hope shared words of advice and discussed her experience working at Weissman’s, as well as potential career opportunities at the company.
Weissman's Designs for Dance, which designs and manufactures costumes and dancewear, is based in St. Louis, Missouri. Weissman’s boasts a factory on-site and a sample sewing room.
The Boss’ Journey
Hope began her career in the Kansas City Macy’s Executive Training Program where she was quickly promoted to a buyer. Continually proving her skills and capabilities, Hope was rewarded with the title of Fashion Director at Macy’s, where she used her trend research know-how and worked with marketing, visual presentation and merchants to drive sales. From there, Hope moved to the May Company in Houston where she served as Fashion Director, and was promoted to her next position, Vice President Design Director. At first, Hope was hesitant to take a design-focused role, but her strong management and business skills made her a great fit for the position.
Hope spent seven years as VP Design Director at May Company until casual apparel began to take off. This is when she was promoted and joined the May Company’s west coast team where the casual influences were originating, and spent the next seven years working out west. Hope’s next move was to New York City where she took on the role of VP of Design at Wal-Mart, followed by Chief Merchandising Officer at Kellwood. Hope then set out to start her own consulting business, and through the contacts she made consulting, eventually branched out into intimate apparel business, becoming Senior Vice President of Merchandising at Frederick’s of Hollywood followed by VP of Product Development and Trend for Lane Bryant Apparel. With each opportunity, Hope has gained a greater knowledge of the business and strengthened her skill set. Today, she leads Weissman's Designs for Dance as VP of Design.
Words of Wisdom
Don’t be geographic-centric. “If you’re geographic-centric, you will fail. You will never ever realize your potential. That’s the truth. It’s not where you are, it’s what you’re doing. There is life outside New York. You have to be flexible.”
Seize opportunities. “If you get a call, they ask if you can fly there the next day, always say yes.”
Teamwork. “It’s all about your team. Working together will get much better results. It’s all about team work to get the best product for the customer.”
Rise to the top – become the “cream.” As Hope’s mantra dictates, “Cream rises to the top, and strong performers are recognized.” Work hard, collaborate well with others, and do everything to the best of your ability.
Q: “What kind of software is important to learn in design?”
A: “It must be proficient in the entire suite of Photoshop and Illustrator. Always have a website and electronic portfolio”
Q: “Do you think you’ll shift back towards manufacturing more in America?”
A: “We are committed to our in-house factory. It is our biggest supplier.”
Q: “What does the application process look like at Weissman’s?”
A: “First of all we look for talent - a beautiful portfolio, it has to be done electronically. High aesthetic and technologically on-point. The next step is team fit. We have a really great team, and we want to make sure that everyone is going to work together well. We go through a group interview process to ensure the candidate is a good fit. We have two sides of our business - costume and dancewear. We do have to design differently for in-house and for China, so it can be a little complicated but a very exciting business model. We have to be flexible based on capacity - in China factories fill up, so we must maximize domestic production. The experience that an assistant designer gets at Weissman is unlike any other, it’s a completely vertical experience. Design Assistants work from concept through final prototype.”
Thank you Hope for sharing your career insights and advice with us, and encouraging us to be bold in our career choices!
Stay tuned for our next recap!
- Katherine Manson, 2016 FSF Scholar