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Drapers Next Generation: One year later...

The Outnet’s Ellie Peters was a student when she visited last year’s Next Generation. So what did she learn?

When Ellie Peters attended last year’s annual Drapers Next Generation Academy she was an aspiring Fashion Retail Management graduate from Birmingham City University looking for her first step in the fashion industry. She was so inspired by what she saw that it propelled her into her first role as a buyer’s assistant at discount etailer TheOutnet.

Drapers catches up with her to find out what she has learned and what advice she has for the class of 2013.

What did you get out of the Drapers Next Generation Academy?

It gave me the determination to forge my career in the industry, and helped me develop the skills to achieve the position I am now in at TheOutnet. Talks from influential figures such as [then BFC chairman] Harold Tillman were extremely inspiring; they showed me that if you are willing to work hard you can accomplish great results.

How is your life different to this time last year?

I was a student in fashion retail, balancing an internship at fashion chain Store Twenty One with producing a final-year dissertation. Fast-forward a year and I’m now part of one of the most successful groups in the industry. The jump from intern to employee is a hard one; responsibility can be daunting. Now, rather than filing and photocopying, I’m working alongside a global buying team.

What does your job involve?

My typical day involves meeting with the merchandising team to analyse brand performances and sales. This helps to determine the product I select when attending brand appointments and sourcing stock. The assistant buyer is based in our Manhattan [New York] offices, and we speak daily. The move from intern to buyer’s assistant was challenging, but also hugely rewarding.

Where do you see your career progressing?

I really enjoy working at The Outnet. Buying has very clear progression levels, so I’m hoping to work my way up to one day become a buying director.

Do you have any advice for people who want a career in fashion?

Internships are key. They don’t need to be carried out with top designer brands or household names; experience in small start-ups can be a great opportunity to gain experience. Being enthusiastic is also important. It doesn’t matter if it’s making the tea or attending fashion week, you need to show you’re happy to do any task.

Is there anything you know now that you wish you’d known a few years ago?

I wish I’d known how important it is to seize every opportunity, and don’t be afraid to take a risk. Get yourself in front of the right people and take chances that others might not take - that will get you ahead and make you stand out.

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