As a small town girl trying to break into the fashion industry it can be extremely difficult to shine through all of the other applicants that apply within the same career. This was the case for Emily Brown, who recently scored a coveted position of a Merchandising and Design Buyer internship at HSN (Home Shopping Network) in Clearwater, Florida.
Emily is from Jonesboro, Arkansas and has done what seems to be the impossible- a small town girl, living in a fashion world. And today, I get to pick her brain on what it's like to break those barriers, and ask her if she has any advice for the rest of us who are looking forward to doing the same.
Let it be noted, Emily has worked extremely hard to maintain a resume that not only broadcasts dependability, but also dedication. "A degree is only 20% of the work one puts in to achieve their dream job.", as Emily puts it.
"Experience is how I pursue relationships with people everyday. I dedicate my time to work and friendships by being the best person I can be. Life is an experiment, I am my own work of art."
So lets get into it.....
Question: When you wake up in the morning, what do you do before heading into work at HSN?
Answer: As we all know, early mornings are the root of all evil. I drink at least two cups of the blackest coffee possible as soon as I wake up just to give my face an extra glow and less of a "I hate 5am" complexion.
I enjoy spending time alone before work with no social media or television, gathering my thoughts and creating a positive and serene mentality for the day ahead. Giving myself at least two hours to get ready is a necessity. Of course I try on at least five outfits and then go back to the first original outfit, because I’m a girl and that’s just what I do. IT’S THE WAY WE WERE BORN PEOPLE.
Question: How is your office decorated?
Answer: Shoes, Shoes, and more SHOES.
My desk is always decorated with only the best quality 8x11 white paper with graphs, grids, and statistics covering the page. It’s truly beautiful. In all reality, I enjoy having items around my desk that express who I am, what I am fighting for, and what I will someday become.
I have pictures of current trends that are overpowering the industry, as well as art work like paintings and such. From a picture of a girl kick boxing, to a picture of John Lennon smoking a cigarette in front of a London train station--emotion is all around my area. The most influential piece is a canvas with the saying “Live Don’t Just Survive” sitting on my desk alongside a beautiful chrome elephant. (I am a firm believer that the elephant in the room provides spiritual strength to overcome weakness.)
The resemblance of my desk canvas is that surviving is just waiting for danger to pass by and hoping that you somehow get lucky, but living is facing the demons you fear and using your inner elephant to conquer and dominate.
Question: What do you do at your job?
Answer: My job as an intern is to gain the knowledge needed to pursue a role in the fashion buying business. I observe how buyers communicate with designers and negotiate pricing. Keeping up with trends as far out as 7 months to a year in advance will give a buyer an upper hand in time. I attend fit sessions weekly to make sure that the garment or footwear received meets buyer and consumer expectations.
Most girls who enter the fashion industry see it as a great way to get paid and shop. My experience here isn’t all roses and daisies, but extremely worth the dedication and time put in.
I do a lot of data entry for upcoming items or orders, and a large amount of sorting and organizing to make sure that the item goes where it needs to. I work on the website to make sure that all images valid and of clear quality. Keeping up with competition is also one of the tasks given. Competition is everything in retail and the more knowledge that you obtain about the opposed team, the better. Attending vendor meetings is probably my favorite part of this internship. Listening to designers discuss the story behind each item and create emotion behind the seams and stitches sends chills up my spine. Sometimes it takes a special conversation to remind you why you chose the career path that you are on, and for buyers, I believe that this is definitely the case.
Question: What gave you the inspiration to pursue a career in fashion?
Answer: Honestly, it started out as the fact that someone told me I couldn’t. I started sketching when I was ten years old. By the age of fourteen I had my first job in retail at a bridal shop. I have worked my tail off to get where I am today. I can remember children laughing at me in junior high school when I told tell them what my dream career would be. I used to get called fat, ugly, and everything that you can possibly think of that a kid in junior high would say because of my weight problem. One great aspect of my family name is that we highly enjoy proving people wrong. I clearly remember every negative word thrown at me, and I use that as motivation to be the best.
Quesiton: Being from a small town, some girls think it’s almost impossible to enter into the fashion world when it comes to their career goals. What would you have to say to encourage girls that want to pursue a career in the fashion industry?
Answer: NEVER GET MARRIED. I’m kind of just kidding, but kind of not. Don’t trip and fall on the marriage train if that isn’t really what you want-- but believe me, I've tripped and fallen on the rollercoaster of love before, but I knew there was more out there for me. There is nothing wrong with waiting to get married and just pursuing your boss girl dreams.. Being in the fashion industry, it’s extremely difficult to even keep a plant alive let along maintain a healthy relationship.
My best advice when entering this career is finding a college in a city with a ton of activity, diverse opinions, and high fashion concentration. As far as relationships go, everyone is different, but focus on you and NEVER make a partner part of large life decisions if it gets in the way of your future and what YOU want. If someone is telling you that you aren’t pretty enough or good enough, never give up. I know that we all hear that from teachers and parents, but coming from someone who has truly been there, it’s worthwhile in the end. Start a resume early on and work as hard as humanly possible to achieve and dominate every goal that you think you will never reach.
Always keep your faith.
Question: Did anyone try to discourage you from the fashion world as your career? If so, how did you handle it?
Answer: Some of my family did when I first moved to Nashville to pursue a fashion degree. As a young girl, students in my school definitely did. I took all of the discouraging words and turned them into positive vibes. By maintaining a positive attitude and staying focused on the prize, I have gained so many relationships with amazing people and am absolutely loving my decision to follow not only my dreams, but my heart.
Question: What did you major in? And why did you choose this major?
Answer: My major is Textiles Merchandising and Fashion Design with a minor in Business Administration. I am basically getting the best of both worlds with the combination. The TXMD side will not only give me an understanding of the fashion dynamics, but also prepare me for the wolves when I get thrown to them in a year. The Business Administration side has prepared me for the demons that I will face after I conquer the wolves. Demons in the Business world are rock hard and ready to rumble. The classes that I am taking give me all of the knowledge needed to become a lion knock them down one by one. The use of animals is appropriate because the fashion industry is a whole different animal in itself, I’m just the little cub trying to survive the herd.
Question: What do you consider to be important steps to take for a girl who is wanting to be involved in your type of work?
Answer: The first and most important step is building a resume. Depending on what field that you wish to enter, this will have the most value aside from your degree. The younger age that you start, the better your resume will become. If someone is a little older, say college age, it’s all about who you know. NETWORK NETWORK NETWORK. I don’t care if you come across the secretary of a company in a social environment, befriend EVERYONE. I definitely recommend being a design major even if you aren’t interested in design. This will teach you all about garment knowledge such as structure, function, fit etc. Work many jobs in retail and work more than 15 hours a week. Dedicate your life to this job and gain as many references as you can. If you are just entering this major because you enjoy shopping or don’t have any other interests, I advise you to research more and don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you don’t want to sew your fingers, bleed on a garment, cry because its 5 am and you have had no sleep because you have been working on a presentation, or get negative feedback on a project that you worked on for days and have to redo it in twenty four hours, you might want to rethink your life journey… This is where passion comes into play and takes over your need for sleep or pain that you receive. It’s SO worth the fight. NO PAIN NO GAIN
Question: If you could sum up your day to day life in three words, how would you describe it?
Answer: Strive, Conquer, Execute
Question: When you have down time, what would we find you doing?
Answer: I consider myself to be a very innovative individual. I love researching trends that are current, and thinking up changes or tweaks that could be made. Beauty can be right in front of you, but the next big thing is always more beautiful in my eyes. I love lists. I make to do lists, goal lists, financial lists, health food lists, and anything else that you could possibly list, I’ve probably done that too.
Question: What’s your favorite thing to binge watch on Netflix?
Answer: I don’t watch Netflix often, but I could binge watch Game of Thrones or Walking Dead anytime, anywhere.
Question: Kiss, Marry, Kill three emoji’s
Answer: I would kiss the lightning bolt, marry the rock sign and kill a bottle of champagne
Question: Celebrity crush? And Style Crush?
Answer: My celebrity crush is definitely would be Tom Hardy with Travis Barker’s Tattoos. Style Crush is by far Penelope Cruz.
Question: What are some inspiration quotes that you live by, or that best describes you?
“When you're drowning, you don't say 'I would be incredibly pleased if someone would have the foresight to notice me drowning and come and help me,' you just scream.”—John Lennon
“A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That's why they don't get what they want.”—Madonna
“Elegance is not the prerogative of those who have just escaped from adolescence, but of those who have already taken possession of their future.” --Coco Chanel
“You wake up in the morning and you look at your old spoon, and you say to yourself, it's time to get yourself a new spoon.' And you do.”—Mick Jagger