How I got here - Beth Chilton
What does your typical week involve?
The great thing about my role is that because I’m head of a large department I get to dip into a range of things, from fabric sourcing to planning production, logistics And working on the brand strategy. I’m at the top level of overseeing and orchestrating that every day and when it comes to expanding the business I’m at the forefront of bringing structure to it. We just got into wholesale in the US, for example, so I’m leading that. There are around people that report into me.
What task are you most looking forward to today?
We just signed our swimwear range for spring, which is exciting – there are some digital prints, bold cut-out designs, really bright vivid colours, matching aftans and separates. It’s really exciting to launch a brand new product range to a market. Asos has taken it and Urban Outfitters in the US is about to take it as well. I also really enjoy the work I do in growing our US business. We began selling with womenswear retailer Nasty Gal and Urban Outfitters from spring, and it has just boomed from there. Now we’re looking at doing an exclusive range with Nasty Gal for next season.
What meeting do you wish you could postpone?
I’m flying out to China tomorrow to see a supplier, which is a really long trip.
How did you get to where you are today?
I graduated from Nottingham Trent six years ago and didn’t really know what to do with my career. I knew I wanted to work in fashion but didn’t really know enough about the roles on offer. So I took my first job as a garment technologist with a knitwear supplier Photograph to the high street, and worked on the Asos, Miss Selfridge and Dorothy Perkins accounts. From there I moved to Topshop where I stayed for two years, but I got to the point where I realised that being a garment tech wasn’t right for me. I moved to Phase Eight for a really short time, but knew that despite succeeding really well up until that point I needed to take a step back and start again on a different career path. I knew I wanted to work for a smaller brand where I could get to do a bit of everything. So I went through the A to Z brand list on Asos and contacted all of the fashion brands that I liked – it’s important to relate to the brand you work for. Oh My Love director Anne Lombard replied to my email the next day and was just about to move to London having just got her first collection onto Asos. She was looking for someone who could bring factory contacts and supply chain management skills, so we met and I accepted the job on the spot. In four years we’ve grown from just the two of us to a team of and are now Topshop’s largest concession, and also sell in markets such as Australia, with retailers like Mya, Glue and David Jones. When we recruit we look for people who have worked in other companies – particularly the larger businesses on the high street – and can bring certain skills into the business.
What has been your career highlight?
Breaking into the US this season spring . We worked really hard getting the collection right and launching there can be so hard. There are lots of new laws and legislations to contend with, but with a lot of research we’ve managed to go straight in and do well.
How do you see your career progressing?
I see myself staying with the business long term, and I really want to help grow the brand into a really big global business and the first destination for girls shopping for fashion.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
I think at the moment fashion is really difficult to get into, with a lot of people struggling to get a job. Interning is great to test things out and so is working for a small company because you get to try lots of different things. Also it is important to believe in what you are doing, show confidence and be passionate – then your talents will really shine through.