Alumni Spotlight: Billy Crawford, BA-Merchandise Management

Billy CrawfordBilly Crawford, 2013 BA-Merchandise Management Alumni and Merchandise Assistant of Pier 1 Imports Inc. headquartered in Fort Worth, TX, shares his experiences as a student at Wade College and about his career in the industry.

What are your primary responsibilities as a Merchandise Assistant?
I create SKUs, processing all purchase orders to vendors, executing all purchase order changes including cost, payment terms, ship dates, ship ports, cancellations, and consolidations. I initiate all new order forms and applying all tax codes and applicable surcharges. I assist Buyers with samples including product validation for e-commerce and gathering competitive market research on other retailers

Describe a typical work day.
A typical day at the office can vary. Many days will involve writing new order forms for new product that has been decided to purchase. Re-buys also come through daily on SKUs that we carry year-round or on their low inventory. I assist 3 Buyers, 2 Merchandise Planners, and 2 Allocation Analysts over 5 different departments including rugs, bedding, throws, window treatments, and shower linens. One day may include a compliance meeting about flammability reports for bedding versus the next day we have a meeting on areas of opportunity for a solid program for outdoor rugs. There is daily involvement and communication with overseas vendors about purchase orders or characteristics about products.

What do you enjoy most about your career?
The thing that I enjoy most about my career thus far is the constant involvement with different types of work in the office. I work many different people and departments. I have worked with legal, product compliance, buying, planning and allocations, and marketing/e-commerce. It has showed me all the different occupations that really exist out there and helps you narrow down what really interests you.

Why did you choose Wade College?
I chose Wade College because of the smaller campus size and the prime location in the Dallas Design District. Also, I was intrigued by how industry professionals taught many of the courses.

How did education at Wade College help prepare you for your career?
Wade College significantly helped prepared me for my career by offering courses that relate to my current occupation. Many things that were learned in these courses are brought to the workplace! Do not study just to make a letter grade, study to remember! There is also a correlation between what I was taught in the classroom and with my current job role. Many of the tasks that I complete daily were discussed in multiple courses. I understand the merchandising jargon versus someone coming in with an accounting or business degree. Wade College helped prepare me for this industry!

What advice do you have for students and recent graduates beginning their careers in your profession?
The most precious advice that I can give involves what employers are looking for. Many students, (myself at the time) focus to make straight A’s and fail to realize that is only part of the “game.” Many employers are looking for candidates that are well-rounded. They want individuals that have experience, have stories to share, have accomplishments outside of the classroom. You might be the smartest student but that doesn’t make you the sharpest crayon in the box. Last but not least, you have to network! It is crucial in order to survive in these areas of concentration.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?
My proudest accomplishment is acquiring a corporate level position in merchandising within 6 months of earning my Bachelor of Arts degree.

Who inspires you in your career?
My co-workers are definitely my inspiration. They have taught me not only to work hard, but how to be a better person and how to be optimistic in every situation. I definitely follow their leadership and I’m constantly intrigued by their perseverance.

Wade College is very proud of you, Billy Crawford!

Fashion Merchandising

Fashion Merchandising
Fashion Merchandising

Being a fashion merchandiser — isn’t that the ‘job’ that makes apparel look pretty on the mannequins in retail? Today, a merchandiser must be well versed in their own business’ protocol as well their competitors. A career in merchandising involves a concrete knowledge of the manufacturing process, and how to buy, promote, and ultimately sell fashion goods / services. Additionally, a fashion merchandiser knows great details about the textiles process, from fiber type to fabrication techniques best for any particular fabric.

The necessary skill sets required for such a rewarding, fast paced career as a fashion merchandiser may be achieved by understanding trend forecasting, having an acute analytical ability, and being able to effectively communicate. While more scientific than fortune telling, fashion merchandising jobs do have a forecasting element. In order to improve your accuracy, you’ll need a thorough knowledge of past fashion trends and an awareness of current industry developments. A good sense of style obviously helps you; however, you must also determine how things fit into a budget and whether they meet the functional needs of consumers. Other criteria may also influence your fashion merchandising decisions, so you will need to be able to analyze a complex set of issues and stand behind your choices. From negotiating with manufacturers to getting your marketing message out to customers, there is ample opportunity to exercise your powers of communication in the fashion merchandising field (Description of Fashion, n.d.).

Source: Description of Fashion Merchandising Jobs. (n.d.). All Art Schools.
Photo Credit: http://c1777572.r72.cf0.rackcdn.com/fashion-merchandising425.jpg

Job Fair Jump Start

March 2014 Job Fair copyLast month, Wade College welcomed to the fall 2014 trimester a large, new group of first term students, as well as our continuing students. Wade College students quickly grow accustomed to a wide variety of industry opportunities at Wade College, beginning in their very first trimester. These opportunities range from one-day volunteer opportunities at industry events to short-term and long-term internships and paid work opportunities, to permanent placement in career-related, full-time positions with notable DFW-area companies.

The start of a trimester can bring students anxiety from trying to find a job, whether it’s to help pay for school or to gain the necessary work experience to ready a resume for a full-time career in fashion, interior or graphic design. Career Services at Wade College gave students a jump-start with their job search by bringing employers on-campus through our fall 2014 job fair. Employers and their representatives included Terry Costa, Dillard’s, Michael Kors, LOFT, The Army & Airforce Exchange, The Limited, Sunglass Hut, and ZURI Furniture. Job opportunities presented included part-time jobs, full-time jobs, and internships. Students from all levels and concentrations attended, dressed for success, with polished resumes in-hand. They had the opportunity to network with employers and learn about job opportunities that they each offered. Employers were impressed with the preparedness and professionalism of our students, each making a good first impression. Many students received scheduled interviews and, to top it all, several of them landed the JOB shortly after!

Job fairs are a one-stop shop. They are part of the job search resources offered by the Career Services department for Wade College students to meet one-on-one with employers at one time and at a convenient location on-campus. All in all, it was a success, especially when students become employed in positions that not only help pay their bills, but also enable them to gain industry experience while pursuing their studies! We are fortunate to have such a stellar Career Services department with tremendous industry connections at Wade College!

Designing Your Portfolio: Fashion Design, Merchandising, Graphic Design, and Interior Design

DESIGN YOUR FASHION PORTFOLIO
One of many resources Wade College offers for portfolio preparedness.

If you are considering enrolling in an art or design school, most likely you will need to have a portfolio of work that you’ve done to show the admissions committee. Current students will also be asked to assemble portfolios of the work they have completed while in school. At the end of your program, your portfolio will be reviewed and assessed for completeness and creativity.
At Wade College, Associate of Arts students do not need a portfolio for admission, but they are required to develop one while in school. A portfolio is required for those students enrolling in the Bachelor of Arts program. Associates degree program students participate in the Professional Portfolio Critique at the end of their fourth trimester. Students’ portfolios are first critiqued by faculty and then by an outside panel of industry professionals.
Are you panicking yet? Don’t worry—Wade College offers an entire class that will teach you how to assemble and market your portfolio. Not only do you want your portfolio to shine for your end-of-program review, but it will also need to impress those potential employers!
In addition to the Portfolio Planning and Design class, the Wade College library offers a number of books on planning and assembling your portfolio, whether you are a fashion design student, merchandising student, graphic design student, or interior design student.
Stop by the library and check out these books:
Portfolio Design, by Harold Linton
Design Your Fashion Portfolio, by Steven Faerm
Portfolio for Fashion Designers, by Kathryn Hagen
Portfolio Presentation for Fashion Designers, by Linda Tain
The Portfolio (DVD)
Developing and Branding the Fashion Merchandising Portfolio, by Janace Bubonia-Clarke
Design Portfolios: Moving from Traditional to Digital, by Diane Bender
Designing Your Fashion Portfolio: From Concept to Presentation, by Joanne Barrett
Graphic Design Portfolio Builder: Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator
Portfolios 01: An Essential Primer for Today’s Competitive Market, by Maura Keller
Building Design Portfolios: Innovative Concepts for Presenting Your Work, by Sara Eisenman
Portfolios for Interior Designers: A Guide to Portfolios, Creative Resumes, and the Job Search, by Maureen Milton
Winning Portfolios for Graphic Designers: Create Your Own Graphic Design Portfolio Online and In Print, by Cath Caldwell
No Plastic Sleeves: The Complete Portfolio Guide for Photographers and Designers, by Danielle Currier
Creating Your Digital Portfolio: The Essential Guide to Showcase Your Design Work Online, by Jan Clazie
How to Create a Portfolio and Get Hired: A Guide for Graphic Designers and Illustrators, by Fig Taylor
If you are not a Wade College student, check your local library or Amazon for these titles and help yourself create an amazing fashion design portfolio, merchandising portfolio, graphic design portfolio, or interior design portfolio.

Thoughts From A Former Fashion Institute of Technology Professor

Wade College students at Dallas Market Center meeting
Wade College students at Dallas Market Center meeting

I taught at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York for six years and in that time I came to discover how important an institution’s connection is with its professional industries. I taught graduating seniors who were completing internships at high profile companies like Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren or Calvin Klein. While these students were fortunate to have these opportunities, there were many students, typical of large institutions, who are left without career services opportunities. When I was recruited by Wade College , a small, private merchandising and design institution in Dallas, TX, I immediately connected with its similar philosophy of remaining connected to the institution’s industries and employment opportunities. The difference, however, is in Wade College’s size. What’s incredible is the number of job opportunities that come from the adjacent Dallas Market Center and the Design District, across the street. Unlike the Fashion Institute of Technology and similar institutions where enrollment spirals into the thousands, a boutique institution like Wade College can really service every one of its students with meaningful industry experience that often leads to gainful employment. As a native New Yorker, I did not realize, before relocating, how sizable the fashion and interior design industries are in Dallas. The Dallas Market Center is the largest collection of wholesale showrooms in the world. The Design District is among the largest collections of interior design wholesale resources in the country.  And Wade College, among the oldest creative institutions in Dallas, is literally in the middle of it all. You can’t imagine how exciting it is to be a part of this kind of demand! I take great pride in seeing my students – all of my students – engage in every fashion, interior and graphic design opportunity that comes our way.