Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Katherine Roulston - Apparel Summer Internship Part 3

My last month was a whirlwind of activity leading up to Accessories the Show in New York City. We needed to change how we transported our display products to and from Virginia to New York, and there was a lot of trial and error. We have two large black crates, and at first the idea was to create a foamboard frame to place each neck inside its cubby. I was tasked with measuring, cutting, and piecing this frame together, so for a few days I was working with a tape measure and a box cutter – I calculated how much foam we would need for two frames, how many cuts we needed to make and how far along on each “slat” this needed to be done.

But this sounded like a lot of work, so it was decided there had to be an easier way. We looked into putting each neck into a carton (small box) inside the containers, so I had to figure out the best size for the cartons and how to orient them in order to transport 70 necks. There was no best fit, and again we scrapped the idea. Finally, Steph decided to build a 6 foot crate with drawers for all the display products – t-bars, triple t-bars, large, medium, and small necks as well as the miscellaneous items like lamps that needed to go to ATS as well. I figured out the best way to cut the remaining foam board to put foam frames in each drawer.

The next week I was painting and sanding for the display tables. Once the parts for six small tables were dry, we had to figure out how best to fit them into other cartons to transport them to the show. A lot of this didn’t make total sense to me until we arrived at ATS and had to unpack and build the booth – then everything clicked.
I sat in on my last product development meeting. There was a pair of teardrop earrings that came in moody, fall colorways that needed a name. Kelly (product development) and Steph decided they could be called the “Katherine” earring if I “wouldn’t mind.” Um, of course I didn’t mind. I mind so little that now I’ll have to go back to Fornash and buy them.

It wasn’t all work at Fornash, in fact there was even drama on the high seas on our boat trip. One day we left work early to go on a boat trip from the Pentagon Lagoon to Georgetown. Food and drinks and even paddleboards were provided, and it was nice to get to know everyone outside of work. The team was so inclusive and friendly – I'm going to miss everyone. There was a police boat presence on the outing; since apparently you cant have a photoshoot on the bow while you're underway (but mostly I think the lonely police boater wanted a chance to talk to our model).

I had been waiting all summer to attend ATS (hard to believe, but I was even more excited than learning to use the silhouette machine). We left early by bus for New York on a Saturday, and I had no idea what I was in for. The girls do all of the assembly to make the booth look so beautiful, and it takes hours of pretty physical labor. There was climbing, ratcheting, screwing, stacking, building – and that was just for the tables and walls, not even the display jewelry. Figuring out the best way to merchandise the expansive Fornash collection took some brainpower. By the end of setup, we had a table of new merchandise, as well as new merchandise that was “glitzy and glammy.” Along the walls we had earring trays; spade jewelry was together in a corner; scarves, cardigans, and ponchos hung on a bar; and enamel bracelets had their own rack. The booth was bright orange and navy, and just looked like fun.

ATS is held in the Javits Convention Center near the Lincoln Tunnel, in a large geometric building that looked like it was made of glass. Javits was hosting three different shows at the time: Fame, Moda, and ATS. The show was organized in rows and rows of booths, with a snack and lunch bar in the back. All day Ericka, Kelly, and I hung out in the booth, greeting buyers and answering any questions they had, while pitching as many products as possible. Such a sales-oriented position was new to me, and at first I just watched and tried to be helpful without getting in the way. This worked until we had three buyers at once and I had to finally start selling. I wasn’t great but I wasn’t terrible either – on the third and final day, Tuesday, I was doing much, much better. We even beat our sales goal!

On my last days of work I said goodbye to the vinyl machine by monogramming a lot. I even did some PR work with Mutterick McCall Patterns, since one of their directors really likes Fornash jewelry. He asked for some product to use in their FW14-15 shoot, so I chose some pieces to send based on the colors and concepts he gave us.

I had a great summer with Fornash. ATS was the culmination of everything I had learned with them, and an incredible experience. The jargon and concepts we learned in Sourcing, Fashion Retail Concepts, Clothing and People, Consumer Behavior, Apparel Product Development, and Fashion Presentation Techniques were all at a minimum touched on during my internship, and many concepts were even necessary to have prior knowledge of. I felt prepared by my professors for the work I did, and feel more prepared to be a professional in this industry after graduation as a result of the summer.
Thanks again to everyone at Fornash for all of your help, you made my internship amazing.