You work in the Sales Department of French Connection. Can you tell me exactly what your job entails?
I’m the International Sales Coordinator, which means I work on the export wholesales team. We have a wholesales team which sells to shops across the UK, but my department, about five people, sells to the rest of the world. Mainly Europe though. We work for franchise stores, multi-brand boutiques and department stores, and we also work with our agents who buy for other boutiques and department stores. On a day to day basis I monitor orders from stockists, set up orders with new clients, visit showrooms in Paris and Milan and get together the digital version of each season’s Lookbook. I also organise marketing material from posters to campaign shots and advertising images, and also relay with the marketing and design teams
Do you think being multi-lingual has given you the edge in the fashion industry?
Definitely. I’m selected for visiting the showrooms in Paris and Milan because I’m the only person on my team who can speak the languages; not even my boss can speak them! Just speaking to people in their own language really helps, because it allows trust to develop and breaks down barriers. In my job trust is of massive importance, especially in this difficult economic climate. We lose and gain customers all the time, so it’s important to show that, as a company, we’re making an effort for them. People are so surprised when a Brit starts speaking another language, and this enables me to develop great relationships with them! The client/ company relationship is so important to maintain; being able to communicate is the great thing about learning a foreign language.
How do you see your career progressing in the future? Do you see yourself climbing the ranks at French Connection?
I’d like to, although I don’t think I will, as we’re just such a small team and there isn’t a huge hierarchy at French Connection. I think hopefully they’re going to create a role for me to directly liaise between independent customers and French Connection; I think my strength at communication, through my language skills, is what has really opened up this specific opportunity of me. I’d like to stay on at French Connection for another couple of years, because I’m learning so much and I love my job. Ideally however, I’d love to work for Burberry, which is really because they have a lot of work out in Italy which I’d love to be involved in. Down the line I’d really love to be head of international sales.
What are the best and worst aspects of your job?
Best aspects are the travel, the opportunity to perfect my languages, work with amazing people from across the world and meet really interesting people from all over the place. And also all the free clothes! The worst is just the amount of work; because I’m the sole linguist in my department quite often I have to deal with customers and stockists who otherwise I wouldn’t have anything to do with. But that’s okay, it keeps me busy!
And finally, do you have any advice for students like myself who aspire to succeed in the fashion industry?
Take any and every opportunity that comes up, even if it doesn’t quite follow any ‘game plan’ that you might have. Use your contacts as much as you can; at the end of the day, they might be the person who finds you that amazing next job! A lot of companies don’t actually advertise jobs externally, so having a contact in a business will mean that you’ll be the one alerted whenever a position comes up. Make loads of contacts and make sure to keep in touch with them! Also, be persistent and don’t worry about any skills that you may be unsure of: the best way to learn is just by doing it on the job!
By Amy Rose Wakeham
The UoB Linguist Magazine
Guild of Students,
University of Birmingham