How to Climb the Fashion Ladder

How to Climb the Fashion Ladder
Kelsey Ives, Salmon Pink Dress, Zara | White Blazer, Shakuhachi ( )

Kelsey Ives, Salmon Pink Dress, Zara | White Blazer, Shakuhachi ( )

Kelsey Ives, nine-year Manhatannee, Fashion Institute of Technology top-graduate, global merchandiser for Coach, avid football fan, and one of the best girl friends I could ask for.  To sum it up - she is one boss-a$$ chick!

1. What is your little bio and current career status?

I am originally from West Chester, PA, but I moved to New York when I was 18 to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology.  I've been a New Yorker ever since!   I am the Global Merchandising Manager for Women's Bags at Coach.

2. Being that you went to FIT, a fashion school, do you think you had an up compare to other job candidates?  If you didn't go to a "fashion school", how can one still make it in the industry?

I definitely think having a degree from FIT was important when applying for jobs in the Fashion industry.  My specific degree coupled with strong internship experience and extracurricular leadership, allowed me to skip the entry level Merchandising position when I began my career.  However, I do have many colleagues who didn't attend FIT and have been very successful.  Networking and plain, old fashioned hard work can get you where you want to be.

4. How do you prep for a fashion interview?

I prep for an interview by doing plenty of research.  You need to know the company's basic financial metrics, recent industry news, but most importantly have a creative and strategic perspective on how you can improve their business and ideas for growth and opportunity.  You have to lay out what you personally are bringing to the table to differentiate yourself.  One thing I always tell students is that you have to show personality in interviews.  The people you are meeting with are going to be spending a lot of their time with you, so be enthusiastic, interested and knowledgeable in the role, and dress the part. 

5. Do you think dressing stylish and on trend helps you nail the job?

Yes! & don't be afraid to wear a trendy outfit that shows your personality.  Your outfits aesthetic should fit the company's vibe though!  

6. What is a school related accomplishment that you always share during interviews?

I represented the US at the World Retail Congress in Berlin my senior year of college, I won a very prestigious business strategy competition and presented my project to leaders of the entire industry. Bottom line... get involved at school!!!

7. Do you think a master degree is more important over experience in the fashion industry?

masters degree isN'T as critical in the fashion industry, applicable experience is much more valuable.  I did 4 internships throughout college. Stay in touch with all co-workers. You may never know who knows who.

Kelsey (Left) : Black Shoes, Stuart Weitzman

Kelsey (Left) : Black Shoes, Stuart Weitzman

I remember during my first week of school, one of my professors said to the class “if you aren’t going to be the best and work the hardest, you might as well go home to your small towns now” I took that as a challenge.
— Kelsey Ives

8.  What do a lot of millennial fashion candidates lack?

Many millennials that I interview don't portray a can-do attitude.  Honestly most interviewees don't seem very excited and interested in the role they are interviewing for.  I just want to say "be excited!  You're at Coach!  This is your chance! What are you going to bring to the table?"

9.  What are the common stereotypes - people think about fashion industry?

I think a lot of people think the industry is really harsh and cold.  It is competitive and we work hard, but everyone I've worked with has been really supportive and inspirational.   

Kelsey Ives (Left), wearing Jean Jacket, Zara | Pants, Zara

Kelsey Ives (Left), wearing Jean Jacket, Zara | Pants, Zara

10. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I've always wanted to become the Director of Merchandising before I am 30.  I have 3 more years to get there, but I'm only one step away!  I'd also love to have a personal business on the side, I have so many talented colleagues from FIT that I'd start a line with. 

11. What is the most exciting thing about your job?
I get to be creative and see my ideas come to life in stores- it's really satisfying!  I also think it's so interesting to study global markets and how trends vary by region.  Things that New Yorker women love in a handbag can be very different from women in London or Tokyo.

12. Fashion aside what are your favorites activities and hobbies ?
I love football!!!! I am a huge Philadelphia Eagles fan and I also play flag football 🏈.
I love to travel.  My boyfriend Evan and I just went to Cuba and are planning a trip to Morocco soon. 

A side hobby that I have is taking bags and customizing them with patches and straps.  I just found a cool rainbow stripe vintage guitar strap in Austin and am turning into a crossbody bag strap.  I did an LV one with vintage travel patches that's pictured! CHECK IT OUT BELOW:

T-Shirt, Everlane | Scarf, vintage DVF| Shoes, Stuart Weitzman | Sunglasses, Le Spec

T-Shirt, Everlane | Scarf, vintage DVF| Shoes, Stuart Weitzman | Sunglasses, Le Spec

KELSEY IVES, can be fashion stalked at her IG: K_IVES

Bottom line; dress for the success you want, take each day with a grain of salt, and lead with excitement.  In the end, your hard work and dedication WILL pay off.  It may be when you hit the promotion you've been working towards or when you find yourself sitting front row at a major fashion show, sipping on champagne in your Chanel jacket.  Either way you define success - just keep working at it.  

Stay tuned for my outfit details in a post soon.

xo Rachel