Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I want your job! -Assistant Buyer for Bloomingdale's

This weekend, I was able to catch up with my dear friend and soror, McKenzie Morris. She is an assistant buyer at Bloomingdale's and is off to a great start to her career in retail. I totally love her story and I'm sure you will too! Thanks again to McKenzie for speaking with Style Career Connect!

NM: When did you fall in love with fashion?
MM: I was probably about 3. I used to gaze at my mom with awe and amazement when she was getting dressed . After that, I began having a say in every outfit that I wore! My first favorite outfit was my red boots and mini skirt!

NM: What college did you attend? What was your major?
MM: I went to Howard University, majored in Legal Communications and minored in Fashion Merchandising.
NM: How many internships did you have in college? Where?
MM: I had three true internships in college. One was for a Educational Enrichment program in DC, anther was for AXA Equitable, in NYC, and the last was at Bloomingdale's.

NM: How did you land a job with Bloomingdale's?
MM: I was a BRAG intern for Bloomingdale's in the summer of 2007. Knowing that since this was the summer before my senior year, I looked at my internship as a summer long interview. In August of my senior year, I received an offer for the Executive Training program at Bloomingdale's and I am now the Assistant Buyer for Girls 2-6x.

NM: Tell us about your very first day there?
MM: My first day on the job was packed with excitement. It was overwhelming, but in a good way. This business is extremely fast paced and my first day was a very real introduction to what was to come. A high pressure, yet rewarding industry, that demands your best!

NM: What is a typical day like for you?
MM: Oh if only there was a typical day. Everyday I walk in I never know what to expect and I stopped trying to predict that I would. If I were to have a typical day though, I would be managing the basics of the business execution, including purchase orders, shipping, and tracking sales, and then analyzing that information in various forms of reports to react to the business at hand via promotions, events, vendors discussions, etc. I just summed it up pretty well, but there is a lot more to it...A lot!

NM: What does your office and desk look like?
MM: That also depends on the day. I have a pretty large cubicle, but at times, it can feel like a cave when I am surrounded by papers. As assistant buyers, we are responsible for keeping every record of every action executed for the business. Sometimes, a clean desk is hard to find, but I usually clean it at least once a week. Other than that, I decorate with pictures and certificates earned, as well as my favorite samples of all the pretty little dresses that we sell in my Family of Business.

NM: What do you love most about your job?
MM: The challenge. Contrary to popular belief fashion is a business and not everything is picking out pretty things to sell in the store. Instead, fashion, especially the retail side, provides a venue in which a large range of skills must be used. To be goo in this industry you must be good with numbers, think analytically, stay extremely organized, work with others, be able to negotiate, maintain strong business relationships, and make yourself stand out. When you put it all into one it becomes a challenge that consistently makes you better.

NM: What do you wear to work?
MM: I remain in business casual, but on the more fashionable side. I mostly wear pretty, girly dresses. That's my favorite fit!

NM: What is the craziest thing you’ve ever had to do at work?
MM: There are so many, which is funny, because I have only been working for 6 months! One of the craziest things I have had to do though is track down a sample of a dress that was sent from California to the wrong Bloomingdale's address. I begged my vendor to send us their only sample so that we could feature the dress in a mailer, and it was lost in our 59th St. building. I stood at the loading dock for hours, searching through receiving until I finally found it underneath a bunch of sheets in a cart.

NM: What has been an obstacle that you faced in your career? How did you tackle it?
MM: Realizing that everyone makes mistakes and learning to forgive myself when it happens. My job is extremely detailed, but there are many things that can go wrong or be overlooked. For someone who is not used to making mistakes, it was hard to come to the realization that this job does not allow for zero mistakes. Its practically impossible. I realized though, that if you beat yourself about it then it will only continue to hurt you. So forgiving oneself is the best advise I could give.

NM: If you weren’t working as an assistant buyer, what would you be doing?
MM: I would probably be in law school.

NM: What is your number one piece of advice for someone who wants to have your job one day?
MM: Do your best every day, and manage your career, don't let your career manage you. This industry does not support passive wall flowers. It is about bringing whatever you have to the table and standing by it. Let your work and your attitude speak for you, and no matter what, always keep going!