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Interview: Chei Burris, Recruiting Manager at Lucky Brand

By Partner


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Careers in Fashion is a hot topic here at FashionUnited. Recently, we chatted with Chei Burris, Recruiting Manager at the California-based American denim company, Lucky Brand. Burris tells us, “We (at Lucky Brand) do what we love with the people we love; we work hard, we play hard, we win big and we celebrate our successes.” As the company’s Recruiting Manager, Burris says that she loves the fact that she can impact the business directly with hires and present to people an opportunity to join an amazing organization such as Lucky Brand.

What does being the Recruiting Manager at Lucky Brand entail?

I manage a small team that oversees all the corporate hiring at the Lucky Brand HQ. That means my team and I source, screen, interview, negotiate offers and manage candidates through the process for the 35-40 jobs here.

I also develop and manage the HR and Talent Acquisition processes (interviewing guides, employee referral programs etc.). I manage both the operational and creative sides of the business and recruit at all levels — intern to VP and Design to Finance. I also do a little bit of HR work on the Compensation and Talent Assessment side.

What does a workday look like for you?

No day is ever the same for me. One day it could be ten 30-minute phone screens covering a full 8 hours. Next, it could be five in-person on-site interviews for my candidates in which I’m working with hiring managers to get feedback on the interview as well as getting my candidates prepared and excited for the people they’re going to meet. Other days, I’m in back to back meetings with leaders discussing talent strategy, open roles, future openings etc.

Can you tell us about your professional background, what led you to work at Lucky Brand?

I have a B.S. in Marketing from Hampton University and had plans to go to fashion school and eventually be a buyer. I ended up graduating during the recession in 2008 and my first role was in a legal staffing firm where I was doing marketing, recruiting, and administrative work. I moved into creative staffing, then moved to LA into Corporate Recruiting for Forever 21 where I stayed for 3 years before Lucky Brand.

Did you always want to work in the fashion and retail industry?

I’ve known since I was a kid that I always wanted to work in fashion and live in L.A., so this girl from Germantown, Maryland worked her way through the staffing industry space pushing further in recruiting. Eventually, I managed to get an amazing opportunity to move to L.A. and work for the Forever 21 corporate office recruiting for 2000 in-house roles across design, buying, marketing, HR, legal, etc.

What do you like most about your job?

I do secretly love the “thrill of the hunt” which is what we call it in the recruiting world. It’s about having to go out there and find this person, present it to your managers and make the impossible possible — the looking, the gathering, the hunting and ultimately, the securing of your talent.

What does it take to become the Recruiting Manager at Lucky Brand?

Hard work. Passion. Curiosity. Being opinionated and not being afraid. I’ve been in the recruiting industry for 9 years and in the retail/fashion industry for almost 6 years.

There’s never been a role I’ve said no to working on (even IT, which is hard). There’s never been a project I wasn’t open to taking on and I think that’s what it takes to be a manager anywhere. Being hungry, pushing to develop the knowledge of your industry. For example, such as the ability to connect with people and market your company so that they want to work for you.

Can you tell us of any current projects or plans you are overseeing at Lucky Brand?

Right now, we’re working on some exciting things that will impact both our candidate experience and ability to attract talent, but also to retain talent and manage consistency within our organization.

What is your must-have fashion item?

My must-have fashion item is a good quality button-down accentuated with a red lipstick.

What quote do you live by?

The Canadian hockey player, Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” There’s a level of uncertainty and loss of security that holds us back, but you have to try.

Any career milestones you’d like to share with us?

In the 3.5 years I’ve been at Lucky, I’ve had the opportunity to be promoted twice and am now overseeing the team and pushing how we look at hiring and talent to the next level. I think that’s one of the things I’m most proud of in my career. I’ve worked extremely hard to get to where I am. I’m also so thankful that I’ve had a leader and mentor who really believed in me and trusted me to take this team into my hands. I’m excited about the future impact that I’m going to make on this brand and am elated to be considered a subject matter expert in my space.

Personally, I’ve finally been able to take the work and life balance back into my hands. I’m also doing some outside career consulting with an amazing organization called Career Contessa — geared specifically at women across industries that have questions and need support with career, money, resumes, etc.

What is your advice for those who would like to work at Lucky Brand?

This is a challenging, entrepreneurial, roll up your sleeves type of environment. In order to be successful here, you have to be a creative problem solver, someone who thinks outside of the box and isn’t afraid to raise their hand and “constantly challenge the status quo.” We’re a family, that isn’t without growing pains, but we all love each other and we’re all fighting and pushing towards taking this brand to the next level, one piece of denim at a time. Being passionate about your success, our success and the product we make is how you become a hire here at Lucky.

This article was created in cooperation with Lucky Brand.

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Photos: courtesy of Lucky Brand

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