Life of Alumni: Lizzy Maud Greenwood and Niamh Elstone from PG Cert Fashion: Buying and Merchandising
Ahead of the new academic year we caught up with two recent PG Cert Fashion: Buying and Merchandising graduates Lizzy Maud Greenwood and Niamh Elstone who gave us insight into the course and their careers since graduating. They shared with us their favorite projects, key advice for those looking to start their career in fashion buying and merchandising and how the course helped them to break into the industry.
Hi Lizzy and Niamh, let’s start with what are you currently working on…
Lizzy: I’ve been lucky enough to have been hired as a BAA in the Women’s Contemporary Department at Selfridges. I currently work mostly in the office with a couple of days at home. The course particularly helped with this hybridity as it trained you to be adaptable to working spaces and Microsoft Teams know-how! I honestly can’t believe I managed to land this job – but it’s all down to the PGCert course.
Niamh: My current role is Buying Admin Assistant for MTO Office women’s shoes. I am currently working on orders for SS22 and raising them for the buyers. We have had to take into account Covid and Brexit therefore we are having to process orders earlier as there is a worldwide delay on shipment. I assist in range plan meetings meaning I am able to see what will be in the range next season, which is really interesting, I pull samples when needed and make communication is kept between myself and our suppliers around the world.
Congratulations to you both for landing these roles! So what would you say are the key skills for fashion buyers?
Lizzy: The course is incredibly robust and prepares you adeptly for job requirements way above the ones you will most likely be undertaking – although this is fantastic in an actual interview/working environment where you can really impress with the expanse of knowledge you possess. The breadth of knowledge gained is fundamental at thriving in your job and I understand both my own buying functions as well as merchandising functions, so I can be helpful to both teams. It is also much less daunting walking into the office/joining meetings when you have a firm grasp of what these industry terms mean (WSSIs, DDP, EXW, FOB and OTB, I’m looking at you) so you feel like you aren’t constantly wondering what’s going on – you can actively engage. You also have mini certificates embedded within the course, like Adobe Illustrator which aids you in making flats for your ranges (as demonstrated by our range that we designed) and Edited, an amazing industry data analytics tool. You can also get other Adobe certificates (I got Photoshop, for example) if you carve out the time to do them. These are of no extra cost. Amazing.
What advice would you give to students looking to start a career in fashion buying and merchandising?
Niamh: Make sure you are aware of what sort of industry this, it is fast paced and you often work outside your hours. You must be prepared to go the extra mile and put yourself forward for any tasks given. If you are able to gain any experience make sure you take it, any sort of experience would be beneficial in the future. Keep up to date with key trends, this is important in the industry as you need to have a knowledge of what your competitors are doing.
Lizzy: This course is fundamental if you want to break into this famously difficult (and no more so than now) industry. I did the short course before but this masters level course, the credentials that LCF provides both academically and vocationally is industry recognised and will get you the job. All my closest friends from the course have managed to get interviews and jobs since leaving the course, which in this climate, I’m sure you can appreciate, is extremely impressive!
What is the connection between the course and industry?
Niamh: I feel like I would never have been able to get a job in the industry without this course. I had a background in events management and knew nothing about buying and merchandising. When I finished the course, I felt as if I could get a job for any brand and felt confident going into interviews.
What was your favourite project and why?
Lizzy: Good question! The live brief we were given from Superdry was the most fun to work on, as it felt like you were embodying the role of a buyer and merchandiser and it allowed you to use all the skills you were learning within a semi-professional environment. My group also won this, and our range was presented in front of the directors at Superdry which is pretty cool. Again, we had to present in front of the tutors, and this gave us an insight into what these kinds of meetings look like, the preparation that goes into them and the tools to use when compiling these ranges. I loved my team so much, which was also part of the enjoyment. We still talk now. Every module had something enjoyable within it though, so it’s hard to pick just one.
How did the course and its team supported you going into your current role?
Lizzy: The course leaders were absolutely fundamental in me landing this job. The support I received both within and after the course had finished was actually above and beyond what I imagined. I had some trouble honing my CV after the course had closed, and I had 2 tutors go through it on teams one afternoon to help me refine it; afterwards I had 6 interviews, and 6 job offers. I could not have got to where I am without the help of the course tutors, and I’m so grateful to them.
"In the words of Michelle Obama: "The ability to read, write and analyse; the confidence to stand up and demand justice and equality; the qualifications and connections to get your foot in that door and take your seat at that table – all of that starts with education."
The PG Cert Fashion Buying and Merchandising opens those doors by giving students a vocational industry focussed education that develops their intellectual, analytical and problem solving skills to an advanced level. This is clearly evident when students reach interviews. It is so rewarding when you hear the students' feedback and that email with the words "I got a job ...." - Helen Hindley, Course Leader