Senior Merchandiser at Paige Denim Offers Career Advice to FIDM Students

June 7, 2016

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 and Premier Merchandising & Marketing Group.

When Jennifer first started at FIDM, she initially wanted to do Fashion Design. She didn’t know about marketing, merchandising, or even pattern making. Through her path, she discovered that she loves putting her passion for fashion into the business side of the industry.

She was hired at BCBG to assist the creative director. She applied what she learned at FIDM, to her position at BCBG. Her supervisor interacted with the VP of production, so Jennifer was exposed to merchandising, and it piqued her interest, so much so that she pursued a position in merchandising at Juicy Couture, and was hired! From there, she moved over to Paige, where she has been now for five years.

“Don’t feel that just because you’re in one major, that you are restricted to one path in the fashion industry,” she said. “You can pivot yourself into different directions.”

She loves the challenges inherent to merchandising. The job of a merchandiser is to provide input and facilitate communication and efficiency among different departments—designers, sales, production, and planning. Merchandisers play a critical role in the life cycle of the development of a garment. From the design concept meeting to when the product goes into the hands of the sales department, a merchandiser is there every step of the way.

“Merchandisers have the knowledge of what’s selling the previous season,” Jennifer said. “They provide a roadmap for the designers, and help narrow and assort the line.”

She told the students that while they’re at FIDM, they should take in as much as they can. She said that merchandisers need an analytical skill set. “Exel is our best friend,” she added.

At the end of her talk, Jennifer provided interview tips and answered questions from the students.

Categories: Merchandising & Marketing, Alumni News, Merchandise Product Development