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How I got here - Jon Watson

Lyle & Scott’s visual merchandising manager picks out the highlights and lowlights of his career so far.

What does your diary look like today?

Today is a Monday, so that normally means a series of meetings, catching up with people, brainstorming about window concepts and of course the obligatory water cooler gossip.

Which meeting are you most looking forward to today?

My 11am meeting with a couple of our shopfit designers. At the moment we’re busy designing some new floor fixtures so it’s a great time for us to meet up, put some ideas across, and get creative.

Which task do you wish you could postpone?

If I had the chance, it would be checking off my photography invoices.

How did you get to where you are today?

The visual merchandising training I received at Gap was invaluable and laid the foundations of my experience. Using the basics I learnt there I’ve been able to develop my own style. I then followed the usual path in terms of visual merchandising and retail store management, and then made a slight shift into the field of ecommerce, where I dabbled with photography and social media.

I’m now back working in visual merchandising for Lyle & Scott, but with the experience I’ve gained across the industry I have a more well-rounded understanding of how everything works.

What’s been your career highlight?

I’m quite proud of the fact I’ve seen quick progression within my career, and I’ve had the opportunity to work for some of the niche brands I’ve always admired.

If you could change one thing about your career path, what would it be?

I’d have probably missed out the ecommerce roles and instead taken up a friend’s offer to help style photo shoots for his magazine. The magazine has been really successful so I think I missed the boat a little and could have gained some great experience there. That and possibly a few courses in Photoshop might have helped too.

Who is your mentor?

One of my old managers from Gap is now one of my closest friends. He speaks a lot of sense, so he often gives the best advice.

What was the best piece of advice he gave you?

I sometimes try to do everything myself even if I don’t know how, which can often end in disaster. My friend told me it’s OK to ask for help when you need it, and for some reason that piece of advice stayed with me, so now I make sure I do.

How do you see your career progressing?

I’d like to work closely with a creative director and manage a team of visual merchandisers who stand out in the industry for being innovative. After that I’d like to focus on conceptual design for retail stores. ̈ What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps? Start early, listen to those above you and get as much experience as possible. Also, don’t lose sight of your own style and retain an element of individuality, because that’s your best asset.

If you could work in another area of fashion, what would it be?

I’d work for a creative agency, coming up with ideas for campaigns and marketing. Brainstorming with other people who share your enthusiasm for a project can be really eye-opening, so that would be a great experience.

Salary range: £30,000 to £35,000 (estimate provided by CVUK)

CV

2011 Visual merchandising manager, Lyle & Scott

2009 Ecommerce manager, Lyle & Scott

2007 Ecommerce manager, Fred Perry 2005 Store manager, Fred Perry

2001 Visual merchandiser, Gap

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