As an intern for a small business owner, I have much creative freedom and voice and handle many responsibilities. Some of these responsibilities include directing, photographing, styling, and editing promotional photoshoot campaigns. I also work on forecasting upcoming styles and analyzing consumer's needs and demands to personally scout out and purchase vintage pieces for the store's inventory, identify the material and decade of the garment and price the merchandise and engage in visual merchandising practices by styling mannequins and arranging store décor. In addition, I help to grow the business's social media following by creating various posts and interactive stories each week, plan and host innovative and fun store events and collaborations, carefully handle and steam garments, style customers instore and provide styling advice, and ensure the store is running smoothly, remains visually appealing, and make any necessary executive decisions and judgments where needed.
One of my greatest accomplishments during my internship experience so far has been personally scouting out, purchasing merchandise for the store, and watching it all sell within a week of being out on the floor. This was rewarding and made me feel confident in my judgment and abilities to bring in profit for the business. My end goal is to own day open an archive or shop/business of my own, so gaining all of these insightful experiences and skills continues to set me up for success in my future.
Some of the greatest lessons I learned from my experience were how to take my strong communication skills to the next level and connect with each person walking inside our doors to make a memorable and unique experience for all. This internship has allowed me to network with many other creatives and people from Chicago and even worldwide! I have also learned how to successfully plan and host fun and unique events, including a drag show at the shop and pop-up events in collaboration with other small businesses. I am currently in the process of planning a week full of fun events leading up to the shop's first anniversary this July! More than ever, I learned how important it is to create a warm and unique experience for your consumers and innovative ways to do so. I have had the chance to implement my ideas and express myself creatively, and further learned about myself and my mind and how much a creative and open-minded environment fulfills me. I have also further recognized how small businesses work together within a community to support each other versus competing against one another, and this is what makes a successful community.
What advice would you give?
My advice for future students in the Apparel, Merchandising, and Design major would be to keep all of your options and doors open. You never know what opportunity may come your way that you have never thought before, but you learn and grow from it. Being adaptable, flexible, and versatile are one of the greatest skills one can possess, especially within the constantly evolving fashion industry. It is crucial to have a little knowledge from all areas of expertise to market, sell, style, and communicate about a product. This internship has made me more motivated to continue my research and learn about materials, fabrics, brands, social events, and the overall state of the industry and world.