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How I got here - Jessica Guilfoyle

The production manager at Lyle & Scott on swapping merchandising for production.

What does your diary look like today?

I am in Scotland this week, spending time with our customer services and logistics teams. Tomorrow, I will be at the Hawick Knitwear factory in the Scottish Borders, taking a look at our current production. It’s great to see product made here in the UK, which enables us to remain true to our heritage as a brand.

What do you most enjoy about your job?

Without a doubt, the part of my job I enjoy the most is the relationships we have with our suppliers, who are our most important partners. I love spending time on the factory floor watching our product come to life.

Why did you choose this area of fashion to work in?

I went into merchandising after graduation, as I love fashion and am also interested in business. I loved merchandising, but found that I wanted more involvement with the product and the supply base. Production encompasses both for me. Firstly, there is a great deal of involvement in the product and with the factories, and secondly, I work very closely with the product developers. Alongside that, production demands an analytical, logistical and cost-focused mind.

What has been your proudest professional achievement so far?

We are working extremely hard on some exciting and positive changes within Lyle & Scott. So watch this space and ask me again in six months…

How do you see your career progressing?

As the brand continues to grow I intend to keep going with my development and grow my team.

Who is your mentor?

My director. We have worked together for eight months now. We have achieved a lot and I have learnt a great deal from her. Outside of work, I would say my parents.

What is the best piece of advice they ever gave you?

To always continue to learn and grow. Whether it is technical knowledge, management skills or personal growth, put forth the effort to learn something new every day. And my Mum’s best piece of advice – “Never run after a boy or a bus!”

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

Honestly, I don’t think I would change a thing. Working as a merchandising admin assistant at Arcadia was a great start after university. They are very geared towards new graduates and I found it so exciting to be part of the world of fashion. Going from that to Orla Kiely – a small family-run business as it was at the time – taught me so much and I was given a lot of responsibility at a relatively young age. In my latest role at Lyle & Scott, I feel I have developed even more and I love working in menswear. Men are harder to please in many ways.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

I would say that passion, focus and hard work are needed to get ahead in this industry. It can be very challenging but equally rewarding.

  • Salaries for this position range from £40,000 to £50,000 (estimate provided by Michael Page International)


2011 Production manager, Lyle & Scott

2011 Production manager, Orla Kiely

2004 Production co-ordinator, Orla Kiely

2004 Senior merchandising admin assistant, Topman

2002 Merchandising admin assistant, Topshop

2002 Graduated with a French BA (Hons) from University of Liverpool

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