It may be spring break, but I still wanted to make sure that I posted for Mondays with Madison! This post will be short but so incredibly sweet! I hope you enjoy.
Today I had the honor and pleasure of job shadowing a couple of employees at Lands' End's Headquarters in Dodgeville, WI. This facility is less than an hour away from my hometown so it was a convenient and fun way to spend my first weekday at home. Through a family connection I was put in contact with the Director of Employee-Services at Lands' End and she was kind enough to invite me to a day filled with shadowing multiple employees. She set up a full day filled with diverse experiences.
I made it safely to Dodgeville despite the late onset of a snowstorm yesterday. I arrived on what employees call the Lands' End "campus" and walked into the appropriate building. The Lands' End nautical, preppy, and classic theme was clear from my first steps in the door. I got my visitor's badge and got connected with my contact. We sat and talked about me, my interest in Lands' End and what I was excited about for the day. After outlining the plan for the day, I was sent on my way with the first employee.
I was first paired with a woman in public relations for the company. She gave me a little background on her education, her career, and the work she now does for Lands' End. It was so cool to see how communication plays such a large role in a huge fashion company. Every day PR employees work to develop and express the company brand through video campaigns, work with bloggers, and so much more. It was amazing to get a glimpse into this side of the business.
From here I got to talk and experience Lands' End with a woman who works in men's merchandising and specializes in dress shirts and accessories. It continues to blow my mind that individuals are assigned to such specified products and work each and every day developing products within those realms, buying product, and forecasting. With her, I got to sit in on a Monday meeting recapping and discussing the past week's sales based on the dropping of the menswear catalog last week. Then I got to see many of the workrooms which are filled with plans and product designs for spring 2018. The fact that merchandisers have to think and plan a full year in advance was also extremely interesting. It was awesome to see the programs that merchandisers use each and every day to evaluate current, past, and projected sales.
After spending some time in this avenue, I was taken to lunch in their cafeteria by a woman who works specifically with merchandising for women's plus size swimwear. It was fun to start off our time experiencing the cafeteria. I had some great food and got to engage in some amazing conversation. In women's plus size swimwear, she gets to decide what pieces from regular swimwear to adopt into their line, what patterns her customer will buy, and understand in general what the plus size customer is looking for in a swimsuit. I thought it was very intriguing that she was the only one who gets to focus on this customer and devote all of her time and energy into selling to this woman. She also showed me the software that goes into this position.
During a short break I got a tour of the campus' amazing recreation facilities. There were so many opportunities open to employees and their families centered around staying fit and healthy. By the end of the day I had gotten to see a ton of the facilities.
Finally, I got to spend some time with a woman whose work is focused on merchandising for women's outerwear. She showed me the many departments such as technical design, product development, and planning. I was introduced to tons of people! Following this I sat with her at her desk and got to see the specific work that goes with outerwear. Conveniently a lot of merchandising conversations went on right by her desk so I was able to get a real feel for what a day in this position would look like. I got to see them discuss samples for upcoming seasons, debate whether to mark down an item or not, and more. She also showed me the process of seeing sales numbers and then finding the reasons behind the numbers. As a journalism major, she reassured me that a degree in communications could play into merchandising in many ways from recognizing and executing brand image to helping to produce catalogs. Towards the end of my time I also got to see the sample closet which was filled with women's wear samples from this year and years past! I absolutely loved being exposed to the true work that occurs within this subset.
I feel so lucky to have had the chance to experience all of this. This opportunity truly ignited my passion for what I am studying and has made me so much more excited for what the future may hold! Whether that means applying for an internship or eventually holding a position at Lands' End or a similar company, or taking this experience and evaluating potentially going an entirely different direction, I learned so much today!
Thanks for reading!