Field visual co-ordinator for the South West has to think on her feet to make the Oasis shop floor as stylish as possible.
My mornings are quite precious. I’m up before the birds most days, so a shower and strong coffee are essential. I try to get to my stores as early as I can to make the most of the golden hours before they open. A well-planned and executed morning ensures the shop floor is looking great for the rest of the day and the customer has a pleasant shopping experience.
There is no typical week in the life of a field visual co-ordinator, which is one of the reasons I love my job. Being responsible for more than 20 stores and concessions of various shapes and sizes brings its own challenges and opportunities. The main cities I’m responsible for are Bristol, Cardiff, Reading, Exeter, Southampton, Bath and Cheltenham.
In an average week I could be in a different city every day across England and Wales. I get to work with fashion and be creative every day, whether styling mannequins or producing shop floor and window displays. One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is helping to coach and develop other members of staff.
Changing a store layout is influenced by so many factors: trade, product, company direction, season etc. The ”Oasis Style File” is created in one of the London flagship stores and then rolled out across the country starting with our large ”brand experience” stores. As a brand we change the interior layout significantly every month, then weekly and fortnightly we make smaller-scale tweaks. We react to sales from the previous week, reflecting on what packages have worked well and moving different packages around the store, depending on performance and newness.
Our windows have a scheme that reflects the marketing campaign across all channels, which changes seasonally. The mannequin outfits are updated weekly or daily, depending on product sell. With new product hitting daily in a competitive market, it’s important the floor is constantly updated to showcase product in the best possible way.
I analyse sales figures and performance data, sign off floor plans, and train new and existing team members. The teams I work with are mainly store management, store team and interior visual merchandisers. I keep up to date with key competitors such as Topshop, Zara, Warehouse and & Other Stories, as well as Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters and independent boutiques, for styling and display inspiration.
I work closely with the rest of the field visual team, who work across the UK and Ireland. There are seven field visual co-ordinators reporting to the visual manager. The territories are split geographically: northwest, Scotland and northeast; Ireland and Northern Ireland; southeast and south central; London; southwest; and the Midlands. We’re a close-knit VM family, communicating every day via email, phone and WhatsApp. We share best practice and creations within our stores. We then come together at our monthly “Style Files” meeting, held at one of our London flagship stores.
Open communication with stores is key. I’m not in the same store every day, so it’s crucial that I create an environment that my teams will enjoy and carry with them when I’m not there. I work closely with the store managers and their teams on my visits, as well as keeping in touch by phone and email.
Oasis V&A concept
Overall, my key priority is making sure that all the stores in my area are achieving their absolute potential visually and commercially to give our customer what she wants, and make sure she doesn’t leave the shop empty handed. One of my main tactics for this is to ensure the must-have outfit our customer wants is visible in key sightlines so they can shop the entire look.
From the start I could see opportunities to grow with Oasis and over the past five years I’ve been part of numerous initiatives, such as the development of our ”House of Oasis” store concept in 2011. Two of my stores, Cardiff and Bristol Cribbs Causeway are “House of Oasis” concept stores.
My favourite store layout so far was our Victoria and Albert Museum collaboration last year for spring 15. I’m a huge fan of the V&A and instantly fell in love with the collection. We launched it at the back of the store rather than the front, which initially sounds controversial but the back single hanging rail is a prime selling space, sitting directly underneath projectors showing video footage of the campaign photoshoot featuring model and TV presenter Laura Jackson.
Another highlight for me was an idea I had of pulling some autumn 15 wraps together on a feature rail. I’d noticed a strong high street presence for this trend among our competitors. I pulled all the wrap styles on to one feature rail and styled them on to a mannequin, snapped a photo and sent it to my manager. The visual display was then rolled out nationwide and the following week sales of the wraps were up 800%.
After a busy day on my feet I cook dinner, put my feet up and watch some trashy TV. I love that Mr Selfridge is back on our screens. I love also shopping at Selfridges and used to work there so I’m familiar with the brand. I’ll also make a mini list of what I want to achieve the following day and rest of the week.
If money was no object and there were no constraints of the real world I’d be an acrobat in a travelling circus, waking up in different cities, meeting unique people and experiencing new traditions, while incorporating my love of dance. Perhaps in my retirement career I will be a florist, I’m used to the early starts and enjoy creativity.
2005-2008 BA (Hons) Fashion Design, Birmingham City University
2014-present Field visual co-ordinator, Oasis
2011-2014 In-store visual merchandiser, Oasis
2010-2011 Accessories visual merchandiser, Topshop
2009-2010 Supervisor, Warehouse in Selfridges, Birmingham