How I became an International Buying and Brand Director!

I’ve always had a passion and love of clothes, fashion and interiors and knew from a very young age that I wanted to work with fashion and textiles. My mum was a fabulous dress maker, so I was always surrounded by fabrics and encouraged to make my own clothes. I also loved business and numbers so was amazed at finding the perfect degree course at Manchester Polytechnic, Hollings Faculty that combined both! It also included  a year’s work experience in manufacturing, so the perfect training for an amazing career in the fashion business! Buying was absolutely my first choice! Being able to combine my love of design, trend and colour to develop and create collections, with all the commercial elements of business strategy, planning and negotiation was the perfect mix. I also loved the travelling and building relationships with amazing suppliers around the world to create and deliver successful ranges. Armed with a fantastic content learned at Hollings coupled with my work experience I joined the graduate training program for Buying at M&S, which laid the solid foundations for my fabulous career to date! Since then I have been fortunate enough to work for and lead teams in some amazing  brands as Buying Director, Brand Director and MD, both here in the UK and Australia. These include French Connection, Accessorize, Coast, Arcadia-Wallis, Habitat, Jacques Vert and Forever New. I am now sharing my knowledge and expertise by offering my services as a consultant and coach to businesses that need help and support The world of retail and fashion is one of constant change and evolvement which is why I...

TO BE YOUR CHINA OFFICE with a fraction of the cost

China is now the biggest fashion manufacture area for all production cycles in the world, not only for producing, it is the biggest sourcing / developing area for all kinds of fashion products, so people doing fashion business could not leave China.  If anyone wants to do better fashion business in China, they need a Chinese team as their representative to handle their buying in China. From finding the right suppliers, sourcing and making collection samples based on designer’s ideas, negotiating prices with China suppliers and checking all of samples before sending for approval.  Organizing even very small quantity orders, controlling quality and inspecting goods, monitor production lead time and delivery date. People should not be running a China Office, this will cost more and it is not healthy if the business value did not become big enough and it takes time to cross the gaps of different cultures.   What will you say if we tell you that we can be your China Office with a team of staff including experienced Merchandisers / Sourcing / Developing / Technician / QC to do all of those works but you only need to pay one men`s salary like 1000.00 usd – 2900 usd per month ?  We, TO BE YOUR CHINA OFFICE, is the solution of medium and small sized companies who want to run business in China with a fraction of the cost. TO BE YOUR CHINA OFFICE is a professional Chinese Company, with China Directors who have over 20 years’ fashion trading experience especially in garments and accessories; with Head offices in Shanghai, China. Our team all have more than 10...

Assisting Small Businesses, Virtually

Assisting Small Businesses, Virtually by Judi Evans I set up my Virtual Assistance business, Indigo Bureau, to offer office admin support mainly, but not exclusively, to busy creatives. Having come from a design background myself I appreciate how admin can get in the way of creative energy. As the name suggests, I work virtually from my own home office which means that clients don’t need to provide me with desk space or a computer. They don’t pay my National Insurance or my holiday and sick pay, instead they hire me on an hourly basis as and when needed.   Who might need a VA? My clients are all small business owners, working in a variety of different industries. Many work from their own home office, but some employ a couple of staff and operate from small studios. The one thing they have in common though is, as their business starts to grow and become more successful, they may find themselves drowning in admin and paperwork. They usually contact me when they’re finding they’re working late into the evening and on weekends to clear the paperwork backlog. This was never their intention when they initially set up their business, so they look to outsource help with this admin, and that’s where I come in. How does it work? If a prospective client lives within reasonable travel distance we’ll initially meet face-to-face, if they’re further away we can Skype. Then, if we both agree we’re a good fit to work together, most communication is done by email or by phone. Documents can be posted, sent by email or shared in Dropbox...

Flexible Workers – The perfect talent for your business

Today, as workers progressively shift away from a standard 9-to-5 salaried day to embrace the rising world of flexible working hours, is proving a challenge for companies to find the right permanent candidates. However, independent workers are highly attractive professionals; by using a freelancer or contractor means you will be able to fill unpredicted openings quickly and with the right expertise. A vast majority of flexible workers are teamed with knowledge, training, and readiness to make changes for the next challenge. Companies who can quickly adapt to change will have the upper hand. Therefore, this could be the perfect choice to move many businesses through their current period of finding the right talent.  The independent work trend is one we can expect to continue through 2018. Below are 8 reasons why it makes great business sense to hire a Freelancer or Contractor: A huge majority of flexible workers are in their middle to late careers and are more likely to be highly educated and skilled; Flexible workers have the ability to understand and adapt quickly; Flexible workers are one of the most important drivers of change; Flexible workers are always motivated to perform an excellent job and fast. They fully understand that it’s to their best interest that they remain reliable and exceed your expectations; Flexible workers gather lots of experience from working with a range of different businesses. Each client or job adds more experience to their craft, bringing more skills to your industry. Your business stands to gain from all that immense experience; Flexible workers are accustomed to hitting the ground running, you will still need to clearly outline the work parameters clearly as well...

How to use the STAR technique to answer competency based interview questions

  Competency based interviews are being used more and more in fashion recruitment for a range of roles. If you’re not quite sure what they are, they’re the questions where you are asked to describe specific examples of times when they have demonstrated particular skills or attitudes. Normally, these questions will require you to describe a particular situation or problem that you were faced with, the actions that you took as well as explaining what the outcome was. The popularity of these questions amongst employers is that they enable them to quickly evaluate a candidate’s mindset and gauge how they may handle certain situations that may occur if they were to be offered the job.   Examples of competency based interview questions include:   Give an example of a time you handled conflict in the workplace (competency: conflict management/resolution) Tell me about a time your communication skills improved a situation (competency: communication) Describe a time when you have used your own initiative in the workplace (competency: creative thinking) Give an example of change in the workplace and how you handled this (competency: flexibility/ability to handle change) Give an example of a time you identified a new approach to a workplace problem (competency: creative thinking) Describe a time you have had to work to an extremely tight deadline (competency: time management)   These are some of the most common types of competency based interview questions that you’ll come across in interviews in the fashion industry, but the fact is that they could ask you about any sort of skill, ability or quality. Therefore, it’s not possible to prepare answers for...

How To Sell Yourself In An Interview

  You’ve applied for the job and got yourself an interview. The hard work isn’t over yet though. Your prospective employer will be interviewing a number of candidates for the role. Chances are, they’re going to have very similar skills, qualifications and experience as you, so what’s going to make your interviewer choose you?   The reality is that you’re going to need to sell yourself, show how you aren’t just better than the other candidates but that you are different, the solution to their needs. We take a look at some simple ways that you can do that. Do your research Researching your prospective employer is crucial for any interview and you can guarantee that other candidates for the role will be doing the same thing. Therefore, regardless of whether you are going for a creative role or more business based role, you need to go the extra mile. Instead of just researching the company, what it does and its history, think about researching the market it operates in and their competitors. Get a full 360 view of the business and showcase your knowledge and apply it critically. This sort of attention to detail won’t fail to be noticed by your interviewers and can really set you apart from the competition.   Mind your body language Choosing the right words is important in an interview. But just as important is your nonverbal communication, also known as your body language. The fact is, you could be giving excellent answers to your interviewer’s questions, but if your body language isn’t right, it could be saying other things to your interviewer....

Is doing your own recruitment really worth it?

Business is getting ever more competitive and the fashion business is no different. In fact, it’s one of the most competitive industries in the UK which means securing the right talent is crucial to any business that wants to grow and continually be successful. Whilst fashion remains one of the most popular industries to work in, with thousands of people trying to get into the industry every year, that doesn’t mean that quality candidates are easy to come by. In fact, many businesses are finding it harder and harder every year to secure the right staff with the key skills, qualifications and experience to drive their business forward. As well as a shortage of the very best talent, one of the key problems is that many businesses in the fashion industry are still doing recruitment in-house. Now of course, as recruiters, we’re going to think that using a specialist fashion recruitment agency is the best course of action. But the fact is, for most businesses, it simply doesn’t make sense to do their own recruitment.    Imagine the time you’re wasting Have you ever actually calculated the amount of time that it takes for you to do your own recruitment? Here’s a typical example: Firstly, you have to write a job description. You might already have one, but is it fit for purpose? If not, you’ll have to update the one that you have. Next you need to write your recruitment advert. Your job really needs to stand out, so you need something that engages your target candidates. Simply using a job description as your advert isn’t going to...

Why Should You Use A Specialist Fashion Recruiter?

  Recruiting the right talent for your business is crucial if it is to grow, be successful and thrive. Whilst the fashion industry may be one of the most popular industries for people to work in, it’s also one of the most competitive which means the competition for talent is intense. If you’re struggling to attract top talent and employ the people that you need to drive your business forward then maybe it’s time to consider employing the special skills of a dedicated fashion recruiter. We can help you identify talent   As specialist fashion recruiters, we are perfectly placed to be ‘in the know’ to identify the very best talent for your vacant position. Once you have identified your vacancy and established criteria for the role, a specialist fashion recruiter can set about finding suitable people for the position. The ideal candidate is often not someone who is actively looking for a new role but who would be open to one if the right opportunity presented itself. If you’re recruiting directly, how are you going to find and engage with this sort of candidate? Specialist fashion recruiters like ourselves have strong and extensive networks of both active and passive candidates and can zero-in on your ideal person whether they are looking for a new job or not. Targeted advertising of your vacancy There was once a time when recruitment was a lot more straightforward. It was simply the case of putting a good advert into a relevant industry publication and you would be inundated with a selection of good quality applicants. However, since the advent of the internet...

Fashion Recruitment by Karen Collier : It all started with my mum’s sewing box as a child’

How Karen Collier Careers began…. My background? My mum was always making clothes for my sister and I when we were children.  I would often dive into her sewing box to make clothes for dolls. I loved everything about sewing, so when I left school I started working in a local clothing factory.  After two years, I decided that I needed to get myself a qualification in Fashion and carried out a two-year Diploma in Clothing & Distributive Trades. Once I graduated from college with a credit, I wanted to be a Designer so I worked as a Design Assistant for 2 years at an M&S supplier. Realising that I missed seeing all the garments in production, I got myself a job as a Roving Quality Controller for a fast fashion supplier. I worked closely with the head office customers and took them to all the UK factories where their garments were being produced before they were delivered into the high street stores.  I then went onto work with some well-known brands such as Laura Ashley, Tesco, Warehouse, LK Bennett, and Jacques Vert and travelled to many off shore factories in Europe, India and Hong Kong. How I got into recruiting? If someone said that one day I would run my own fashion recruitment business, I would never have believed them as I always thought I would carry on working as a Technical Manager until I retired. However, I was made redundant from my Head of Technologist role at Jacques Vert during the credit crunch in 2009.  I had built up some very good relationships at business and supplier...