Wednesday, 7 July 2010

"I Want This Job" : Visual Merchandising

Shop windows are the very thing that entices you into walking through the door & making a purchase. Whilst attractive displays provide a very enjoyable retail experience... Remember Charlotte in SATC getting totally sucked in by the shoes on display & the weird shoe assistant???

Levi's store on Regent Street, London

Anyhow, I'd love to introduce you to my 4th installment of "I want this Job" featuring someone of exceptional talent in Visual Merchandising; Jason Traves, whom I've been lucky to work with (although in a totally different dept.) in my previous life. He's so much fun (if you work with him - you're really lucky!!!), incredibly talented and super creative...

I Want This Job: Visual Merchandising
Job Title: Retail Presentation Manager

Who do you work for? Levi's, UK

What do you actually do?
I build and protect the companies brand image visually through windows, Visual Merchandising (VM), Creative installations and shop-fit activity.

What's your typical working day like?
My day to day work involves creating new installations and the planning that goes with them, running my team of talented retail co-ordinator's and V.M (visual merchandising) manager and ensuring everyone is on track to deliver our strategy, and then the boring stuff like budgets and signing invoices!

What are you working on at the moment?
I'm working on the new installation for our Flagship store, can't tell you the focus though as then I would ruin the launch! I'm also rolling out some new branded spaces in department stores that Levis partner with

What do you love about this job & why is it fabulous?
I love that I get paid to be creative yet still get to develop my commercial and people skills, I like the idea of taking a blank space and completely changing the look and feel of it.

Whose window's inspire you?
Of course Harvey Nichols, my friend Laura is the creative genius behind their windows and I love how she always pulls something new out of the bag, I also love Barney's windows in New York, Simon Doonan has really transformed how visuals can tell a story or have an opinion, he always has a fun way of talking about current affairs through his windows, the last I saw was a window dedicated to Michelle Obama when Barack Obama was inaugurated.

Harvey Nichols 2008
See here for more Harvey Nichols amazing window displays.

What's the most exciting job you've ever created/conceptualize in your career?
I liked the copper hoarding I conceptualized and commissioned for the new Levis flagship store, mainly because it was something a little out of the norm. I like to have variety in my work, another of my favorites was an installation I did in the Cinch store on Newburgh street which was inspired by the Amish and the way they re-cycle everything so it takes on a different life, I basically transformed the whole store by re-cladding the frontage into a whirlwind of different coloured pieces of wood. I tend to like my most recent work as it feels fresher whereas previous installations can feel dated

Check out the night-time sparkles, love, love, love!

Cinch Store on Newburgh st, London

What's not so great about this job?
Endless Invoice signing, budget have to take the good with the bad!
(J-it's not THAT bad!!!)...

501 window of Selfridges Dept. store, London

What core responsibilities do you have?
Ensuring all of the logos and trademarks are used correctly, window design, overseeing the visual merchandising and ensuring it makes sense and drives sales, building brand equity through the projects I deliver, building world class visual merchandising teams

What skills do you need to be a great Visual Merchandiser?
Creativity, a commercial understanding of VM, a bigger understanding of the brand and its vision, adaptability and flexibility as the hours come sometimes be long and unsociable

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to become a Visual Merchandiser? Is it a tough career to break into?
Yes it can be, the best training is to try and start by getting work experience or a junior role in a department store, his way you will get to work with all types of product from fashion to white goods to perfumery, you should work with all products even if you favour one in particular as you never know what the next opportunity will be

What's the career path like?
I started as soon as I left school working at junior level in a department store, the best experience is to just get straight in at store level, I know people who wasted a good few years at college when they could have been learning on the job, I don't know if there are any good courses out there right now

Levi's with House of Holland window, Selfridges Dept. store, London

How did you start networking/get started/find your dream job?
I worked my way up through the ranks and learnt as I went along and made sure I made the best of each career turn.
Is it essential to have a portfolio?
Definitely, you have to show your creativity somehow, if you don't have a portfolio then sketch window ideas and show your understanding of the sector you are trying to get into, whether it be Denim, Fashion or furniture

Jason has also worked for Kookai, UK & produced some amazing windows & VM with the team

Anything else you'd like to share?
Look for inspiration everywhere, Galleries are good, travel always opens the mind a bit and try and think out of the box.

Thanks so much for sharing J - you're a legend!

NB: Jason is now Head of creative And visual merchandising at Miss Selfridge, Jan 2011
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