Subject: Meet Visual Merchandising Assistant, Ellen
Get to know Ellen and how she got into Visual Merchandising below, make sure you show her all the love on her social media channels! Enjoy
Name: Ellen Brown
Location: Essex but studying in Surrey
Job Title: Visual Merchandising Assistant
How did you get into working as a Visual Merchandiser?
I have always wanted to work in Visual Merchandising so I decided to look for a part time in store position rather than my usual sales assistant role. I always thought that to be a Visual Merchandiser you needed a lot of experience in the role, however starting out as a Visual Merchandising Assistant is the perfect way to gain this. I have now worked as a Visual Merchandising Assistant in two different stores simply through searching for a visual role on company’s websites and general job advertising websites. I started out in a smaller store, but still within a big, worldwide company, this really helped me to gain a lot of knowledge in a short amount of time which then helped me to get my current position.
Did you ever intern?
I have interned three times over the last 3 years. I worked as a PR intern, a general Fashion intern within a magazine and as a Styling Assistant for a stylist over London Fashion Week. I have never interned within Visual Merchandising as I personally find this to be one of the most difficult kind of internships to find, however it is possible. It is best to contact stores directly as its usually something that isn’t advertised but stores are willing to offer. This however hasn’t hindered me in gaining a job as a Visual Merchandising Assistant as they often look for general retail experience as well as visual experience.
Are you or have you been to university?
I am currently in my third year at university studying Fashion Promotion and Imaging at the University for the Creative Arts.
What advice do you have to anyone wanting to get into visual merchandising?
- Search for specific visual roles when looking for jobs (there are more around than you may think), maybe starting in smaller stores to gain knowledge first.
- If you already work within a store always ask if there are any opportunities to work with the visual team or to help out during busy periods as this will again help you to gain knowledge that you can impress future employers with.
- General retail experience goes a long way. I always thought to be a part of a visual team you needed qualifications and experience however a lot of company’s look for a general knowledge of the industry you’re in and proof you can work in a retail environment over necessarily having years and years of experience.
What qualities do you need in order to be a great VM?
To be a great VM you need to be able to work and communicate as a team. Unless you work within a very small store VM is usually split between a team of people rather than just one colleague as it is a very hands-on, busy role. You need to be prepared for early mornings or over night shifts as a lot of visual work goes on before or after the shop has closed. Being a VM is a very active role, some days you can be simply dressing a mannequin on the shop floor and others you could be climbing up ladders to hang décor from the ceiling or building furniture for window displays. You also need to be able to organise your time to keep to a schedule as if you work within a store that is a part of a large company they will have deadlines you have to follow in order to keep all of their shops looking the same.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
In 5 years time I will have graduated university. I hope to still be working in a visual role however I would like to move from an in store role to a more head office based position. I would like to be the person creating the guidelines for what each store should look like as I also really enjoy graphics and working on the computer.
Where can people find you?
Instagram - @ellenbrowncreative