My journey to working at top tier luxury retail boutiques on Fifth Avenue, and how you can too!
Back in May when I first launched my blog, I threw a poll up on my Instagram story asking what you guys wanted to see for my first post. The choices were between home decor on a budget, or working in fashion. Although majority of you decided home decor, this one here is for that other 37%.
Growing up as a kid in the big city of New York, I was always so inspired by the amazing power and creativity the world of fashion embodied. My mother worked in the heart of Manhattan for Macy’s corporate for over 25 years. One of the largest fashion corporations in the world!
It was always such a dream. Although she always claimed to dread it so much, I wished upon a star that I would get a job like that one day.
Little did I know that my wish would actually come true.
By using the resources I’m going to share with you below, I was able to work my way up to Fifth Avenue at the iconic Italian fashion couture brand, Dolce & Gabbana.
But it wasn’t all glitz and glam at first.
Wait… What do you mean?
Let me provide a little backstory. When I was 17 years old, I was so eager to have my own money to shop and buy shoes that I got a job at a local phone store for minimum wage ($7.25/hr at the time).
Where was I going at that age? No clue, but at least I was passionate about something, right?
Obviously my career path in selling phones was short lived once I came to realize that wearing a tacky uniform and helping old people try to remember their passwords all day wasn’t really my thing. It definitely wasn’t going to afford my desired lifestyle either.
Just as I turned 18, I got the luckiest opportunity of a lifetime, or so I thought at the time.
Is working in luxury really a luxury?
I got a job working in JFK Airport, in one of the duty-free boutiques. Not just any boutique, I was working for Hermés. Yes, the legendary fashion house Hermés. You can only imagine how excited I was.
It was almost as if I manifested it, I swear.
My coworkers were a group of older woman who were so educated and knowledgeable of all things fashion, luxury and couture. Obviously having a young Carrie Bradshaw moment, I wanted to be a sponge and just absorb every bit of information they were teaching me.
Unfortunately, since I was so young and naive, the reality of working in retail hit me hard shortly after, and the excitement died down. I knew working in sales would be challenging, but I had no idea how insanely greedy and cut-throat people can be in a competitive environment. Such bitches.
Mind you, I was the youngest person on the staff. I worked my butt off from 3pm to 12am five days a week at $10/hr. Crazy right?? Sadly, The cost of a fabulous life was still way out of my reach.
After about 6 months I realized I was too young to be this stressed out and underpaid, so I quit.
You did WHAAAT?
Girrrrl, I felt like such a boss that day. Who did I think I was? Quitting Hermés just like that? Was I out of my freaking mind?
No. Little 18 year old me was just aware of my worth and knew there were better opportunities to explore and get me where I wanted to be. I read in a book somewhere that that’s the kind of attitude and mindset you need to be successful so I ran with it.
How can I find jobs in luxury retail?
Let me just state, I was given that opportunity based on absolutely no prior experience and no college degree, just lots of hours applying and preserverence. Being friendly and personable at the interviews might’ve helped a bit too.
If you’ve ever thought about working in fashion and was afraid of the lack of experience holding you back, don’t! Go out there, believe in yourself and make it happen.
Luckily, working in retail exposed me to some people who introduced me to freelancing. This was everything I was looking for.
What is freelancing?
A freelancer is a person who works as a writer, designer, performer, or the like, selling work or services by the hour, day, job, etc., rather than working on a regular salary basis for one employer.
Allow me to introduce you to Pyramid Consulting Group, which is a leading agency that teams up with luxury designer brands looking to hire. The agency conducts interviews and places candidates to fill the desired positions available. Positions can range between hundreds of departments, and offer temporary to permanent roles.
I just want to share their amazing welcoming message from their website for all to see their commitment to equality and be encouraged to apply and feel welcomed.
The application process is super quick and easy. All you need is an updated resume to upload and fill in the About Me details. Once you’ve been accepted, you’re paired with a recruiter who’s job is to find you the perfect fit.
Throughout my 2 years of doing freelance work, I was able to choose which jobs I wanted to work and was paired with some incredible brands like Jimmy Choo, Marc Jacobs, Emilio Pucci & more.
What are the perks of freelancing?
What really caught my attention was knowing that companies actually pay freelancers more than their employees because of their specialty and contracts with the agencies to provide the perfect candidate.
For example, an average retail sales role (in NYC) base pay is around 15-17 per hr depending on location and experience. As a freelancer, you could earn $20+ for that same position. Who doesn’t love a good pay increase?
That was my golden ticket, and could be yours too if that’s the path you desire to take!
Whats the catch?
I don’t want you guys thinking this is too good to be true. Let me be the one to let you in on the downsides of freelancing too so you’re not disappointed.
A lot of freelance opportunities are temp-to-perm positions, meaning based on your performance and the needs of the business they would decide if they are going to keep you or not after a certain time.
For context, I was referred to Longchamp through the agency as a temp associate in Soho, which then became a full time employment for 3 years. You may find lots of seasonal, temp and part time positions, but with the pay increase it may be doable depending on your requirements. The chances of them continuing employment with you depends on how well you perform so I’d definitely bring your A game!
Piece of Advice
The best skill to have in this business is the ability to be teachable. With so many changes happening in retail, companies are going to need people who are open to change and can adapt to different situations.
There are so many important skills to take away from this industry that you can use for the rest of your life in everything you do.
Especially if you want to start a business of your own one day. Show up to work open minded and ready to learn, and I guarantee you you’ll put yourself ahead of the game.
What skills can I learn working retail?
Taking a job in retail doesn’t mean you have to label yourself as a salesperson forever. Most skills you pick up in retail are actually transferable to life. Like what? You’re probably wondering. Keep reading to discover how many transferable skills you can gain from working in retail.
- Customer Service and Communication.
- Interpersonal Skills.
- Working under pressure.
- Relationship building.
- Time management.
- Commercial awareness.
- Visual merchandising and organization.
- Attention to detail.
- Problem solving and initiative.
- E-commerce and shipping operations.
- Cultural awareness.
- Ability to multi-task.
- Handling cash and credit transactions.
- Creating deposits.
- Business awareness.
- Selling skills.
& more, but you’ll have to go find those out on your own.
Okay I’m in, Where can I start?
Because I love you guys, I’ll save you some google searching and share some other freelancing agencies you can apply to and find tons of fashion opportunities across the U.S.:
Although working in fashion and retail was a major part of my life, I’ve finally found my passion and it feels so good to apply all the knowledge and skills I’ve gained to something I love.
Thank you all for continuing to show support and reading my posts! Don’t forget to subscribe below for all new updates and everything From Nicole With Love. 😊