How I got here - Sophie Fleming

Sophie Fleming

What does your typical week involve?

Monday is the busiest day. I come in at 8am as we have our trade meeting at ­­11am. The rest of the week is a mixture of meetings with buying, design (to plan future seasons), or senior management (to confirm financial planning).

What do you most look forward to?

The trade meetings, where we meet with the directors and present all the reports with my team. We look at how the week You can see what’s happened in the past week and the effect it will have in store with the range you’ve planned.

What meeting do you wish you could postpone?

Supplier meetings. I only get involved when something goes wrong, so I’m the bad cop. For example, when a have been a lot of issues along the way, we might have to meet to pick up with them and see how they’re doing.

How did you get where you are?

I started at Arcadia Group working for Dorothy Perkins as merchandising admin assistant and became Senior Admin Assistant in ­­. It’s quite a strict career path there. After two years, I wanted to gain wider experience at a different brand and came to Crew Clothing. I became assistant merchandiser (for womenswear), which was a step up, and after a year I went to direct junior merchandiser, working with ecommerce and planning the catalogues. I was working with all the different departments – menswear, womenswear and childrenswear – which was great exposure to the business as a whole. I did that for a year and got promoted to men’s merchandiser, where I am now. I’m back to working with stores and now I’m building the menswear ranges with buying and design, which is what I really enjoy.

What has been your career highlight?

Coming to Crew Co. I absolutely love it here and it’s a really good team of people. I have so much experience in different areas and it exposed me to the business as a whole.

If you could change one thing about your career path, what would it be?

I probably would have liked to work for more brands to gain experience in di erent areas of the industry, because I’ve worked predominantly in the high street, although Crew is a more luxury casual brand. Maybe a designer or work in a brand that’s more familiar to my taste.

Who is your mentor?

My Merchandising Manager at Crew, Sonya Mowll. It’s good for me to have someone to learn from again. She’s always calm in quite stressful environments and always methodical, and isn’t influenced by other people unless she needs to be. She reads the figures and gives her opinion based on what’s happening.

What’s the best piece of advice she’s given you?

To challenge the rest of your team. I think here at Crew we are all quite strong characters within merchandising, buying and design and that’s what makes us a strong brand.

How do you see your career progressing?

The next step would be merchandising manager and I’d love to do that at Crew, but I would have to be senior merchandiser first. It depends on what opportunities arise. I’d like to stay at Crew as long as possible, because it’s a great brand.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

Start in a big company – it’s good to be somewhere that has all the structural merchandising processes in place, so you can learn everything by the book. Then move to a smaller brand or make a brand of your own, where you can put what you’ve learned in place. Also – because we work quite long hours within merchandising and buying – make friends with your team. It makes your workload enjoyable.

If you could work in another area of fashion, what would it be?

A designer brand to see how they plan their ranges and how it differs. The good thing about merchandising is that it’s similar in each company and the skills are transferable.

Salaries for this position range from £35,000 to £40,000 (estimate provided by CVUK)

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