Workin' It is a weekly series where we ask RLG members about their various jobs, internships, and projects in the retail and luxury goods industries. This week, we ask Jessica Li about her internship with Michael Kors.
Tell us a bit about what you were doing before school.
I was a Senior Analyst at BAV Consulting, a brand consulting firm, where we helped clients understand the functional and emotional strengths of their brand. We advised on all things brand related when it came to assessing marketing/business issues including positioning, partnerships, merging of companies, customer segmentation, competitive analyses, etc.
Tell us about what you are doing over at Michael Kors.
I’m interning on the e-commerce operations team, where we are currently taking MK.com in-house from a third-party vendor and relaunching the site for US and Canada. The team is very lean which keeps my day-to-day pretty varied. Some projects are more technical, assigning facet values to Fall ’14 merchandise in ATG, and others are more strategic, evaluating the financial impact of offering free ground shipping. One thing I like most about the role is that it is highly cross-functional; most of our initiatives involve participation from MK creative, merchandise, marketing, and IT teams. With this as my first experience in the retail industry, it has been particularly rewarding to see how it all comes together.
Interning during the school year is obviously a little different than during the summer. How much time during the week are you spending at the Michael Kors offices?
I’m in the office two full days a week.
You took a class at FIT before coming to CBS. Was fashion something that you explicitly came to CBS to pursue or just an option you are exploring?
I did the Brand Management Experience certificate program at FIT a year before I applied to CBS. Taking classes with students who had more of a technical and design expertise was the closest I could get to experiencing the fashion industry without working in it, and was critical in confirming my decision to pursue a career in retail and fashion. So hopefully, I will be able to follow through on that!
What classes of yours have been particularly applicable to what you are doing in e-commerce operations?
Pricing strategy has been particularly relevant. The frameworks are insightful when considering customers purchasing behaviors to help identify strategic opportunities to maximize the gains on customers’ WTP.
You’ve been interning for about four months now. What’s your favorite thing you have worked on so far? What is your favorite thing you’ve learned?
One of my favorite things that I’ve worked on is a two year roadmap for MK.com and mobile, which has been a comprehensive functional analysis of e-commerce websites. It’s been a great learning experience exploring how to optimize the user experience and identify functionality that will drive customers to purchase. Overall, it’s been a great dive into the digital world and a tremendous learning experience.
Tell us some of your favorite designers and brands. Rag and Bone, L'Agence, Nonoo, 3.1 Phillip Lim and Rebecca Taylor
What are some of your favorite places to shop? Zara, Scoop, Intermix, Neiman Marcus in Dallas, and Shopbop
Share a favorite fashion tip. You can't dress for anyone but yourself. If you love what you are wearing, it can make the whole outfit.
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Workin' It is a weekly series where we ask RLG members about their various jobs, internships, and projects in the retail and luxury goods industries. First up, we ask Sara Huneke about her internship with Berluti.
You have one of our favorite backgrounds of anyone in the RLG. Tell us a little bit about what you were doing before you came to CBS.
I'm a recovering politico. Prior to CBS, I worked at a think tank in Washington, DC, the American Enterprise Institute, where I did public affairs and government relations. In those roles, I witnessed the nitty gritty of policy formulation from an inside the Beltway perspective.
Tell us a little bit about Berluti.
Berluti is an LVMH men's brand. Traditionally known for exceptional shoes and leather goods, Berluti has recently expanded into Ready to Wear under the creative direction of Alessandro Sartori. The Berluti gentleman is rakish, and a bit irreverent, with a taste for the finest quality.
What are you doing as an intern?
I've been able to do a little bit of everything from client marketing and retail operations to merchandising. It's an exciting time for the brand. It has expanded from one retail location in the US to four in the last year, so I've gained exposure to all that goes into getting a store up and running. In fact, the new Berluti Flagship Maison just opened at the beginning of February on Madison Avenue. It's a must-visit if you ask me!
You’ve interned previously at Hermès and at The Jones Group – how has the experience at Berluti been different?
The main difference between my experiences at Hermès and The Jones Group is that Berluti has a very entrepreneurial, start-up feel. While it is owned by LVMH, the brand is run by a small team. This is what has made the internship so rewarding because I've been involved in every aspect of the brand and been able to interact with all levels of the organization both in the US and in Paris. It's also been nice to have the experience of working for a brand that is rapidly growing versus a more established player.
What’s your favorite thing you’ve worked on so far? What is your favorite thing you’ve learned?
I enjoyed working on the Grand Opening event for the new Maison as well as a smaller, private client event. It is great to see the interactions between the brand and the clients. I've learned so much, but two things stand out. One, especially in luxury, is the importance of in-depth client knowledge. Second, the value that an MBA can add in the retail industry. Because of my skills and experience, I was able to be thrown right in and contribute to Berluti's expansion.