Merchandise Product Development

Latest Merchandise Product Development News

  • Aug
    19
    2016

    Entrepreneur and Merchandise Product Development Grad Taylor Gilkey Launches Leather Bag Company


    Taylor Gilkey graduated from FIDM in 2012 with her degree in Merchandise Product Development. A year and a half ago, she started designing leather bags and launched her own company, Gilkey.

    She returned to FIDM last week to share her experience with students in the Premier MPD Group, an elite group of students who qualify to attend special guest speaker presentations because of their excellent GPAs and outstanding performance.

    Taylor prepared a presentation for the students, full of first-hand entrepreneurial advice and tips on how to start a brand.

    Before the meeting started, FIDM Instructor Rebecca Eliason dropped by the conference room to say hello to her former student. Rebecca and Taylor have kept in touch since Taylor graduated, and Rebecca recently referred her to several sewing contractors located in Los Angeles, which reinforced to the students the importance of networking in the fashion industry, and that it all starts at FIDM.

    Taylor grew up in the central valley of California, between Fresno and Bakersfield. The Gilkey family is a rarity in the fact that they still grow and gin a large acreage of Pima cotton. Their long staple, luxury cotton is still used in high end fashion brands. Taylor is a fourth generation farmer. In fact, before attending FIDM, she majored in Dairy Science at Cal State San Luis Obispo.

    Her goal with Gilkey was to create a company to honor her family’s legacy. Her brand is about heritage and family. To this point, her logo incorporates the wings of an airplane, cotton, and the sun.

    “This is your brand,” she advised students thinking about launching a brand. “Know what sets you apart, and set yourself apart. Have your brand tell a story. Stay true to your brand and don’t change it for anyone.”

    She started by selling bags at a craft fair in San Luis Obispo. She sold a clutch made from scrap leather for $175, and she knew she was headed in the right direction.

    But, let’s back up. When she was still a student at FIDM, she had three internships: Armani Exchange, Club Riviera, and Bollare. After graduation, she worked for two years at Hot Chillys, doing product development—sourcing synthetic material, doing cost analysis, line sheets, and the catalog. She also ran the sponsorship athletic program.

    At 23 years old, she felt it was time to move on, so she quit her job and moved to Silicon Valley for a startup aerospace engineering firm. It wasn’t long before she left that and moved to the central coast to work for a leading innovative ecommerce direct to consumer wine business called WineDirect, where she is now.

    She’s currently an Account Manager responsible for 60 winery accounts. She has a full-time job, while also managing Gilkey, which is quickly growing. She hopes that soon she can make that her full-time job. No doubt she will.

    She had lots of entrepreneurial tips for the students. She said when having something manufactured and produced, to be sure to include line sheets and samples. Establish the turn-around time, and agree on it. Confirm pricing. Draw up a contract or a service-level agreement (SLA).

    She recommends doing online sales when starting out. There is no middleman, so all the profits are your own. She said it’s critical to know and understand your brand identity. Be confident in what you’re selling. Know your pricing.

    Taylor also recommends finding mentors who inspire, and then read their bios. She said she’s particularly inspired by girlbosses including Katherine Powers and Hillary Kerr (co-founders of WhoWhatWear), Ivanka Trump, and Alle Fister, to name a few.

    In fact, when Taylor was a student at FIDM, she interned under Alle Fister at Bollare, a top beauty, fashion and lifestyle public relations firm.

    “She’s a total badass, an unstoppable badass,” said Taylor. “What I noticed the most was that Alle, her husband, mother, and father were incredibly nice and worked together as a team. I think that’s so important in life. To be successful, we all need a TEAM and ‘yell-leaders,’ as my grandmother would say (cheerleaders).”

    At the end of her presentation, she opened it up to questions from the students. One of the students recommended a place in Illinois where Taylor’s bags would be a perfect fit. The networking continued with swapping of business cards.

    We can’t wait to see where Taylor takes Gilkey. With her energy, education, and talent, the sky is the limit.

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    Categories: Alumni News, Featured, Merchandise Product Development

  • Aug
    09
    2016

    Merchandise Product Development Grad Jake Heddaeus Working at Startup Co-Founded by Suki Waterhouse Called Pop & Suki

    Jake Heddaeus graduated this year with his degree in Merchandise Product Development. He's now working at Pop & Suki, an accessories startup co-founded by model and actress Suki Waterhouse. Tell us a little about yourself: I am a recent graduate who is … Read More

  • Aug
    03
    2016

    Alumna Lina Assayed Blogs for Beauty

    FIDM Grad Lina Assayed is featured in Orange County lifestyle magazine Locale, describing her current passion for neon-colored hair. The Merchandise Product Development major set out to be a stylist, and morphed into a fashion and beauty blogger in 2013 w … Read More

  • Jul
    22
    2016

    FIDM IMPD Grad Danielle Thaxton Win Prestigious ISKO Award in Europe

    FIDM Alumna Danielle Thaxton just won the ISKO Award in Europe. She has a degree in Merchandise Product Development and graduated in 2016 with her International Manufacturing and Product Development degree. Tell us a little about yourself: I wa … Read More

  • Jul
    20
    2016

    Trendwatch: Designs for the Disabled

    Magnets instead of buttons for people with Parkinson's, puffy jackets that convert to sleeping bags for refugees, polo shirts with velcroed flaps for easy access to chemo ports—these designs and more are explored in a New York Times story about the growing i … Read More

  • Jun
    22
    2016

    Merchandise Product Development Alumna Shannan Maynard Talks About Career, Life, and Love

    Name: Shannan L. Maynard FIDM Major: Merchandise Product Development FIDM Grad Year: 2012 Company: ’47 Title: Headwear Design Coordinator Tell us a little about yourself: I am a 28 year old fitness enthusiast with an eye for desig … Read More

  • Jun
    08
    2016

    Merchandise Product Development Grad Working at Christian Dior Couture Korea as Visual Merchandiser

    Name: Jake Jihoon Kim FIDM Major: Merchandise Product Development (Professional Designation) FIDM Grad Year: 2014 Company: Christian Dior Couture Title: Visual Merchandiser Tell us a little about yourself: Wanderlust. I love travelling, experiencing dif … Read More

  • Jun
    07
    2016

    Senior Merchandiser at Paige Denim Offers Career Advice to FIDM Students

    Ten years ago, Jennifer Rhee graduated from FIDM. She’s now a Senior Merchandiser at Paige, a premium denim and lifestyle label headquartered in Los Angeles, and visited FIDM last week as a guest speaker for students in the Premier Product Development Group … Read More

  • May
    23
    2016

    Merchandise Product Development Grad Has New Position at Zara--and is Featured in Their I Am Denim Campaign

    FIDM Graduate Le Vasia Tamayo just moved from Los Angeles to San Francisco for a position with Zara as the Northwest Visual Commercial Manager. She was also recently featured in Zara's #iamdenim project, featuring real people from the retailer's stores. We r … Read More

  • May
    17
    2016

    Citizens of Humanity Makes Guest Visit to FIDM's Premier Product Development Group

    Carolyn Nowick and Laura D’Andrea visited FIDM as guest speakers from Citizens of Humanity, addressing the students in the Premier Merchandise Product Development group. Carolyn is the Director of Pre-Production, and Laura is the Production Pattern Maker, an … Read More

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