- Sara Ehlers |
As the fashion industry continues to grow, the competition for jobs becomes more fierce every year. Lindsay Stevens from Kirk Palmer Associates specializes in executive recruitment in the retail, beauty, and fashion space on the West Coast. With 15 years of marketing strategy expertise from her roles at Apple, Kate Spade, and C. Wonder, Stevens has seen from experience what separates great candidates from the rest of the lot. FashionUnited chatted with Stevens to gain insight on how to get a fashion job on the West Coast
Lindsay, first tell us a little bit about your experience. What was it like working for big brand names such as Kate Spade?
It was a really interesting time for the brand, as it was just acquired by Liz Claiborne. Kate and Andy had just left the building, and the brand itself was in a bit of transition where we had really high awareness but weren’t relevant at the time. It was an interesting time to be part of a great brand that was evolving, [and it's] also fun to watch it now and see what they’ve done with the business.
The broader the scope of experience and understanding of the business, the more successful you are in general.
As a recruitment specialist, what do you look for when recruiting new employees?
It all depends on what the roles are, the company and who they’re looking for. I want to make sure I find the best person for the job. In general, I think the kind of talent that goes well and stands out in fashion and retail are those that have backgrounds that aren’t so linear – people who have also worked in CPG, began their career in consulting, transitioned from one role to another within a retail organization, or people who started in sales then went to marketing and merchandising then went to digital. The broader scope of experience and understanding of the business, the more successful you are in general.
What are the best type of candidates for roles in the fashion industry?
If I’m looking at it through [the company's] eyes, while they like people who have a diverse industry or category or functional experience, tenure is also important. It doesn’t have to be seven or eight years at a company, but it should be [at least] three or four. When you've been at one company for a year and another one for two and a half it doesn’t look good.
You need to understand what’s at the front of innovation in order to be successful no matter what your role is. It has to be something that you’re passionate about.
Would you say as a recruiter, you have an idea of what the climate is like for jobs in the fashion industry?
It’s two-fold; the two main tenets of what makes a company successful is its brand and products. Those two things have to be aligned. They also have to be in step with what the consumer wants in that moment. The design has to be relevant and fresh and on trend, [and] the marketing has to align with consumer behavior. Businesses that are able to be one step ahead of the consumer especially now, as it is ever more challenging, and those who can get both of those right are the ones that are successful. I think a lot of the bigger brands, legacy companies--while they may have great awareness having product right and the marketing aligned is more important, and that’s a lot more difficult because it’s hard to move such a big ship. And if you didn’t start to evolve 10 or 15 years ago, trying to become more relevant and drive up sales [now] is more challenging. Retail's not dead, it’s just a matter of creating an experience that is aligned with consumer behavior. It's still an important factor also to have a physical presence and a retail brick-and-mortar store.
What is any advice you have for people aspiring to get jobs in fashion and retail?
Getting into the fashion industry is just having a passion for it. In a way, you [have to] be really watching what everyone else is doing. It's highly trend driven. You need to understand whats at the front of innovation in order to be successful no matter what your role is. It has to be something that you’re passionate about.
Photos: Kirk Palmer Associates / Lindsay Stevens