Sometimes the best advice comes straight from the mouths of those who live their lives in the industry. So with that in mind, as part of our Fashion Means Business blog series, we stole 5 minutes of Topshop Planning Assistant and LCF alumni Natalia Kaczmarek’s time and asked her a few important questions…
LCF News: How did you get to where you are today?
Natalia Kaczmarek: A career in fashion had always been my dream, so when I turned 18, I decided to move to London to follow it. BA (Hons) Fashion Business (Part time) really appealed to me as it allowed me to combine full-time employment with higher education. I found it beneficial in both ways – the knowledge I acquired at LCF helped me to progress in my career at Topshop, and the experience I gained while working in the fashion retail industry was used to support my uni projects. During my studies I undertook a six month placement with shoe designer Freya Rose and moved to an office-based role as a Branch Analyst for Topshop. After graduating with a first class degree I was approached by the HR team and informed that there was a vacancy in the planning department. I came in for an interview and I was very lucky to get the job. Now I am the Planning Assistant for Topshop and responsible for planning the international side of the business and I love it!
LCF News: What were your biggest challenges along the way?
NK: There were moments when I found it hard to juggle the conflicting demands of the course, my job and social life, especially in my final year when I had to concentrate on my Final Major Project. However, doing so led me to learn about prioritising different objectives, something that I have found indispensable in the work place.
LCF News: Why did you choose to study BA Fashion Business (Part time) at LCF?
NK: I had always been interested in fashion and had a mind for numbers, so when I heard about the BA (Hons) Fashion Business course, I knew it was the perfect match for me. The modules surrounding business planning, product development and marketing were all skills I knew I would use in the future and the Fashion Buying and Merchandising unit was the deal maker!
LCF News: Did you find London inspiring?
NK: Living in London gives you fantastic opportunities, as there are always so many things happening, so many friendly people to strike up conversation with, so many exciting areas to explore… From exhibitions and shows to outdoor spaces, food markets and nightlife, there is something you can be doing 24 hours a day,7 days a week and I find it hard to find anything more inspiring than that.
LCF News: Tell us about an average day at your job?
NK: An average day starts at 9 am. I arrive at the office, check emails and create my daily to-do list. If I have any meetings that day, I will have to prepare for them. I work closely with the Layout Planning team on store designs and give guidelines to Buying and Merchandising teams on stock requirements. I have the autonomy to make decisions that really impact the business, which is really rewarding.
LCF News: What are your ambitions for the future?
NK: Ideally, I would like to complete a Master’s degree at some point in the future. In the meantime I wish to continue learning as much as possible about the fashion retail industry and foreign markets, as well as bring my current skills to the company I work for and help them continue to grow globally.
LCF News: What’s an ideal weekend for you?
NK: Relaxing with friends and family.
LCF News: What is your top tip for budding Planning Analysts?
NK: You are not expected to know everything to begin with, so if in doubt do ask. Do not worry if you do not understand everything at once, it will become clearer when you experience the whole season. Do not be afraid to propose a change, just because things are being done a certain way, it does not mean it is the best, most effective way.
LCF News: Three words all Planning Analysts should live by…
History. Trends. Targets.
LCF News: What’s the most important thing you wish you had known when you started out?
NK: I wish I had known that all the hard work and stress would pay off. Maybe not at the time and maybe not right away but eventually. I am using skills and habits I learned during those times of high stress and long hours and tedious work, I use them all the time, and they’ve made me into the person I am today.