Thursday, July 24, 2014

Plaids, Petals & Paisleys

This week at Nicole Miller has been all about the sale and the arrival of the Pre-Fall collection!  With discounts from 50% to 75% off, clients have been pouring in to look at what great styles are fashion steals as the store moves into the Pre-Fall collection.  I personally have been "ooo-ing and ahh-ing" every time we receive a few Pre-Fall pieces as I find the boho chic inspiration very appealing. For this collection, Nicole is combining multiple prints with deep, dark and rich tones.  She also shows lots of layering and mixing and matching for the unpredictable weather that arrives during the September and October months. Plaids, petals and paisleys are gracing the slouchy silhouettes.  These garments speak for themselves and do not need a lot of styling, but you can always enhance your NM look with a great pair of boots and a chic hat. Feel free to check out the look book and get a taste of what we are featuring at Nicole Miller at the Bellevue!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Location, Location, Location

    Over the past week and a half now, I have been bouncing between Loft stores, the one on 17th and Walnut in Rittenhouse Square and the one on 36th and Walnut in University City, an extraordinary amount.  I am often asked by my managers and family which of the two I prefer.  The University City is my home store.  I was hired there.  I was trained there.  I have worked about 8 months there now and hold an incredible bond with the my team there.  I love the Rittenhouse store about equally but in a different sense.  Although I have less of a close bond with their team, that is to be assumed.  I have been helping out there sporadically for the past two months with many of their employees coming and going, making it hard to get close with the team.  However, I love the managers there with whom I work regularly and the hustle and bustle atmosphere in Rittenhouse Square, and now the Rittenhouse store has an equal part of my heart as the University City store.

    However, how can I have a mutual preference to both of these stores as they have both played out very differently in this past 8 months?  Despite both being Loft, they are so different.  Obviously the team make up is different, along with some slight differences between management teams.  However, those aren't the largest differences I have come to notice.

   Firstly, the store set ups could not be more different.  If it were not for the merchandise, I would feel like I was going between two completely separate companies.  The Rittenhouse Square Loft's interior is two stories designed in sleek darks with dark granite tile floors, dark woodwork, and sleek silver fitting rooms and finishings.  The overall atmosphere is very cosmopolitan, fitting for Center City, and has a more professional, high-profile feel.  Meanwhile, the University City store, although still having a natural cosmopolitan feel to it, is much brighter and a much smaller space.  There are a great number of more windows, white tiled floors, white ornate ceilings, and the woodwork is all light wood, giving the store a lighter feel.

   Although I believe the main difference is attributed to one being more outdated than the other, the Rittenhouse store being the former design look for Loft stores, they both work for different reasons, more specifically the clientele.  The clientele between stores is probably the largest difference I have yet to encounter.  Like any brand, Loft has a target audience, and although I definitely see that audience at both stores, I have found the slight difference in the audience to be most shocking.  For example, the University City Loft has a much greater concentration of foreign customers.  I originally thought Center City would have an equivalent amount, as Rittenhouse is an obvious tourist destination.  After much thought, I came to the conclusion that there are a handful of foreign clients that trickily through the Rittenhouse Loft, but the large difference comes from the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University, both holding large populations of inter nation students and both surround the University City loft.  The next difference in clientele is the working woman.  Again this surprised me, as I originally thought that there would be more of that audience in Center City.  However, I have noticed that with offices, hospitals, and more in University City, the majority of our clients--even more so than students--comes from these professionals whom work in the neighborhood.  While at Rittenhouse, there are working women that come through, but I see more young women pushing strollers that seem to be stay-at-home moms.

   Lastly, after getting in a  routine of working in Center City last week almost everyday, I became more aware of my surroundings.  I would either take the Market Frankfurt Line to 15th Street Station or the Drexel shuttle to 15th and Race Streets.  Both ways, I would walk straight down past City Hall until reaching Walnut Street, and then turn right until I hit Loft.  This being a ten minute walk in the general area of Center City, I also experienced an incorrect assumption about this walk and area.  The atmosphere from the walk from the City Hall area to Walnut has a unique, more dirty odor, with a significant number of more beggars, homeless people, and vendors.  Almost immediately after making that right onto Walnut Street, I notice a change.  The people are more put together--some professionals, some families doing shopping.  Naturally, City Hall and Rittenhouse Square are different but until this week I did not notice how large the difference is in the two atmospheres, being blocks away from each other.

And that just went to even further prove me wrong that despite being Ann Taylor Lofts in Philadelphia there is no reason to assume they would be similar.  If the small distance between City Hall and Rittenhouse is so different, it only makes sense why my home store and newly visiting store are quite different.  Specific location (down to the block) has a much greater impact on retail and life in general than one would assume.

Now just imagine how different the Loft store in Liberty Place is; that's just a Venn diagram waiting to happen.

Friday, July 18, 2014

PR Intern Class

My favorite part about my new internship is the free Parson's class offered on Thursdays. The professor holds class for an hour and teaches the interns the ins and outs of public relations and surviving in the fashion industry. He is very up to date on social media and how to use this type of networking to our future advantage. Many of his former students are doing big things within the industry and he seems to have a connection just about everywhere!
We are working on a project in class that is titled "The Anatomy of a Magazine". I got assigned the men's magazine Details. This is the first time I have picked up an issue of this magazine but certainly not the last. For this project, (that is not worth a grade, credit, or anything really) I have to dissect each section of the magazine, predict the December cover and spread, and track their social media presence.
I will attach the finish product when it is complete!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Set Sale!

Nicole Miller at the Bellevue is ready to "set sale" this week!  From July 15th - 31st we will be featuring discounts from 50%-75% off!  It only happens twice a year so make sure you grab these stunning summer styles!  

The beginning of the week has been all about the window displays and now they are covered from sun to sand with our beach-y, nautical theme.  The NM visual team got the creative juices flowing and rocked it out with banners, bikinis and beach balls.  Guests of the building have already been stopping and staring at our wet and wild windows as we gear up for the semi-annual sale.

Take a quick peak!....

Want more?! You'll have to come visit us at Nicole Miller at the Bellevue!

Don't forget to check us out on social media!

@NM_Philly @mkd_associates @nicolemillerphilly
#NMPhillySALE #onlytwiceayear #XOXO #NicoleMillerBellevue #visualteam

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Cultural Classroom

There comes a point in higher education when you find yourself eager for your classes, excited to share something you've discovered with your professor, and overall relating more and more of what you've learned in the classroom to outside of it.  Or at least, you are fortunate if you can get to this point in education, fortunate if you can find that niche of passion that you give your unrelenting dedication.

This "a-ha" feeling generally comes to people later on in college, after completing gen-ed's and delving into the depths of their chosen degree.  I've been blessed to have felt this sense of belonging to my major since the Fall Quarter (2013) of my sophomore year.  I knew early on I needed to be in the fashion industry, but, to say the least, the freshman design courses and I did not make a good pair.  So when heading further into the Drexel Design and Merchandising curriculum, I found my place and my place found me--the business end in the fashion industry.  Numbers, buying, percentages, and Excel are just a few words that bring a smile to my face, so it was no wonder that when I took Retail Merchandise Planning this past spring I was in absolute heaven.

Despite doing math problems for homework, creating buying plans, and toying with Excel, there was something particular about this class that sparkled in my eyes.  For one of the first times, I was able to make connections between my life outside of the classroom and my life within without being prompted.  The majority of the merchandise planning class was first spent defining terms, such as mark downs, mark ups, stock, and more, and second, defining these terms in the sense of their purpose, how they're used, and their context in retail.

When looking at their place in retail, I noticed these terms to be remarkably similar to knowledge I already had.  It didn't take me long to realize that this similarity was not found in a past class whatsoever but at my job at Loft.

Despite already loving my job, I now had a newfound love for it, being able to understand a lot of the going-ons in the background.  The abundant amount of sales and promotions Loft has that I mentioned in my last post ("Survival of the Fittest: Safari of the Sale") suddenly made sense.  Although I had a semi-realization much earlier on that retail stores in general that have regular promotions set prices much higher, using promotions to make customers think they are getting a deal, I now knew this was fact.  I knew why Loft held these promotions.  I knew that Loft did not view mark downs as a monetary loss, but as a way to make net profit.  I knew the reasoning of certain items going on sale faster than others.  I knew how Loft created stock turnover and generated new regular clients.  I knew the background of Loft's numbers.

And I could not be any luckier to have had this indescribable connection to a future career before hitting 20 years of age, and that is something else I know.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Fall Buying Frenzy

Hello everyone!

This past week at Nicole Miller was mostly about buying for me. When I first began at the Center City location, I was asked what part of the business I am most interested in.  After giving it a little bit of thought, I said that I was leaning more toward the buying side of it all.  Reason being, I am pretty good with numbers, I enjoy being organized and planning and I am interested in learning more about the behind the scenes work that goes into running a retail location.  This week, I found myself working closely with buying documents and spreadsheets as Nicole Miller at the Bellevue continues to prepare for the upcoming Fall season.  I learned a lot about how the managers and owner make their decisions on what to buy, about how to place orders with vendors and about how to organize different deliveries throughout the season.  I worked directly on purchase orders and was able to ask a lot of questions throughout the process.  I also was in the store when we received a large shipment of jewelry.  It gave me an opportunity to see how the merchandise goes from the buying meeting, to the purchase order, to shipment and then on to the sales floor.  Overall, I felt like I got a better idea of what buying is but I do realize that there still is a huge amount of material that I have not experienced.  I am looking forward to the next several weeks as I get into a lot of cool projects before my co-op ends!

PS - Don't forget about the Nicole Miller Semi-Annual SALE that begins on July 15th!

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Getting into a New Routine

My  split co-op experiences could not be more different. I was working solely with my boss and now I am part of a forty plus member company. I am loving getting to know all the parts of this well oiled machine called Krupp Group. Although I am the fashion intern, I overhear and work closely with the other areas of the office through their respective interns. I rarely interact with the upper level employees except for my supervisor but that seems to be the norm within our office culture.
I am getting used to my daily tasks such as formulating pullsheets and pulling from our closet to send to the editorial buildings. One of the best parts about my new internship is that on Thursdays a PR professor from Parsons comes to teach us about the industry. He has so much experience and is extremely connected in the industry. I love listening to what he has to share with us.
The fashion world in New York City is no joke!