Lawanda Hilaire is a fashion buyer, mentor and LCF alumna. Lawanda has joined LCF as one of the College's new academic posts from the Academic Development Fund, set up in response to student feedback.
Welcome to LCF! Please tell us about your professional experience and background – where were you before you came here?
I have 15 years of fashion buying experience. I have worked in both digital and brick and mortar buying capacities having bought for major luxury retailers in markets such as London and New York as well as emerging markets; Dubai, Australia, Russia, Brazil and South East Asia. My career background extends beyond international fashion buying to include product development, trend forecasting, and new business management.
How are you finding LCF so far?
As an alumna of the university, I am finding things have come complete circle. I was once an international student (from America) as I completed the PG Cert Buying & Merchandising course years ago. I am also a fully trained mentor and have mentored final year buying students for over 7 years. Making the transition from retail industry into academia is challenging however I am eager and very excited to share my expertise with students.
What inspires and excites you about your area of practice?
What really inspires me is being able to support while being a positive influence to students who have goals and dreams of becoming future buyers and merchandisers. It’s great to see and teach a new generation, in this new retail climate, ultimately having a great impact on talent in the market.
What’s something you’re most proud of?
I am extremely proud of my ability to be bold and take risk. I first moved to London in 2004 as a student and then again in 2011 as a professional in the industry. I knew I wanted to develop and broaden my expertise as an international buyer. I have exceeded my career goals that I have set for myself.
What can students expect from your course?
Students can expect very hands on learning, my course is very engaging and encourages feedback, dialogue and reflection. It will take a student that is curious and willing to work hard to succeed on this course.
What advice would you give to students wanting to study your course?
My advice would to be to have a good understanding of what a Buyer or Merchandiser does. You must also have a comfort level of math and excel. Many times students want to believe it’s a career that travels all around the world to attend fashion weeks and visit fashion houses, it is however there’s a lot of hard work that needs to be done beforehand. You have to really want it as there’s fierce global competition.