The RainbowWave account manager traded design for sales and hasn’t looked back.
What does your typical week involve?
As RainbowWave is a sales agency we work on seasonal cycles. So as pre-autumn 14 is starting to be delivered, we track all the deliveries and follow the first reaction in store by contacting them for sales figures and conducting store visits. This week, for example, I’ve been looking at line sheets for the pre-spring 15 collection for womenswear brand Bella Freud. I go through these with the Bella Freud team and look at it from a commercial angle. I advise on layout, such as grouping different categories on different pages. I also went out to womenswear independent Trilogy’s Chelsea store to see how Bella Freud is performing.
What task are you most looking forward to today?
I enjoy design studio visits, as it allows you to see first-hand how a collection is developing. For example, we started working on Bella Freud last year and since then it’s grown a lot, which is exciting. Studio visits let me offer suggestions and see how things are progressing.
What task do you wish you could postpone?
I’m not so keen on administrative tasks, but even those I don’t really mind. My role is varied, which is why I like it - I go from selling products to visiting stores and merchandising collections.
How did you get to where you are today?
When I first came to London from Ireland I did an internship at Giles Deacon, from which I secured a job as a studio assistant. I was involved in the daily running of the studio, design projects and overseeing interns. I discovered that I liked the organisational aspect of design, which made me look for a different type of role rather than becoming a fashion designer. I wasn’t sure where to go next, so I did an MA in History and Cultural Studies of Fashion at the London College of Fashion - it was something I’d always wanted to do. During my MA, I helped out at exhibitions as a way of creating contacts. I assisted at Inspired by India [an exhibition of Indian contemporary art and design] at Sotheby’s in London, where I met Maria Lemos, the director of the RainbowWave showroom. I followed up with an email explaining the various things I’d done, we met a month later and I did aweek’s trial before being offered a job.
What has been your career highlight?
Working on Bella Freud. Seeing a brand grow and develop over time is exciting. It has only been established as a brand for a few years and only produced classic jumpers at first, but this has been developed into other products such as T-shirts (from £90) and sweatpants (from £180). The range is currently only sold through Net-A-Porter, but will be available from Harrods and Matchesfashion.com from autumn 14.
If you could change one thing about your career path, what would it be?
It hasn’t been very linear. I gained a BSc in Management and Marketing at the Dublin Institute of Technology and then did a diploma in Fashion Design at the Grafton Academy, also in Dublin, before coming to London. After working in a design studio for two years, I decided to study for my MA. If I had started working in sales earlier, I would have probably be further along in my current career path. But coming from a design studio gave me an insight into a designer’s viewpoint. Completing my MA has developed my critical thinking, which helps me when I’m completing feedback reports for designers.
Who is your mentor?
Maria Lemos - she is very driven and aspirational. She always encourages me to follow my instincts, while at the same time being strategic about it.
How do you see your career progressing?
I want to gain a few more years experience in my current position and then move into a more advisory role. RainbowWave takes on new businesses and advises them on how to build and develop their structure to allow their brand to grow, so I’m in a great place to progress.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Follow your instincts. Make decisions based on what feels right to you and what you’re happy with.
If you could work in another area of fashion, what would it be?
I’m already working in another area of fashion - I came to London to be a designer, and now I’m working as an account manager for a showroom. I feel I’ve experienced two sides of the industry.
- Salaries for this position range from £28,000 to £35,000 (estimate provided by CVUK)
2013 Account manager, RainbowWave
2012 Account executive, RainbowWave
2011 MA History and Cultural Studies of Fashion, London College of Fashion
2009 Studio assistant, Giles Deacon
2008 Fashion Design Diploma, Grafton Academy
2005 Management and Marketing BSc, Dublin Institute of Technology
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