18-Year-Old Merchandise & Marketing Student Is Already a Visual Merchandiser

18-Year-Old Merchandise & Marketing Student Is Already a Visual Merchandiser

Name: Gianelle Sulahian

Age: 18

Hometown: Newport Coast, California

FIDM MajorMerchandise & Marketing

FIDM Campus and Start Date: Los Angeles, Fall 2017

Admissions Advisor: Cathy Chambers 

How did your advisor help with the process? Ms. Chambers is the sole reason I solidified my decision in attending FIDM. She helped me in such an incredible way, and I will always be thankful for her guidance. I had so many questions going into FIDM’s application process, and Ms. Chambers happily provided thorough responses to each and every question. Her extensive research and caring intentions made me feel so safe when deciding between two of my top choice schools. I’m confident that I made the right decision on choosing FIDM because of its incredible administration. 

Tell us a bit about yourself. When I’m not working at my favorite concept store, Atelier 7918 in Newport Beach, I enjoy reading fashion blogs and spending time with my family. I love keeping an eye out for new trends, and favorite magazine I turn to for that is Harper’s Bazaar. Another interest of mine is interior designing. Rearranging my room is something I’ve found myself doing often, along with other rooms in the house. It’s incredible how dynamic a room can be, even if there isn’t that much furniture to work with. 

What are your proudest accomplishments so far? When I was 16, I applied for my first job at a concept store in my neighborhood. I was intimidated to apply for a job where some of the most elite brands were carried. As nervous as I was, I knew it was the right thing for me to do to get a better understanding of the fashion industry, and solidify my decision on becoming a buyer in the future. Having no experience in the retail world, I sold as much as I could, expanded on my people skills, learned the art of merchandising a store, and gained knowledge on the operational side of the fashion industry. By expressing my creativity in the ideas I pitched, opinions I shared, phenomenal performance, and loyalty to the store, I was promoted to visual merchandiser of the store.

My sole responsibility, aside from managing Atelier 7918’s social media pages, was to merchandise the entire boutique. This included styling the mannequins, merchandising the clothing racks, and generating traffic into the store. This moment was such an accomplishment for me, and I thought it couldn’t get better after that, until it did. Luckily, my hard work and diligence never went unnoticed. A few months later, my boss invited me on her buying trip in Paris to help place orders for the Resort 2018 collection. My entire life came to a halt, and I couldn’t believe that I’d be offered this opportunity to begin with. 

Traveling to Paris for a week for work was my greatest accomplishment so far. I was able to get my hands on the career I’d been working toward during the final weeks of being 17. Attending the buying trip helped me realize that there’s no other job in the world I could see myself doing. As tiring as it was running back to back for appointments, there was no other experience like meeting with designer representatives, attending private showrooms, and seeing my favorite brands before they hit the runway. The nearly two years I invested my time into payed off for the greatest week of my life.

What made FIDM right for you? FIDM’s ability to cover all ranges of the fashion industry is the element that attracted me to the school. Every other school I looked into centered their strength around one field, whereas FIDM focuses its strength in every major offered. Even though I’m going into FIDM with my heart set on becoming a buyer, that doesn’t mean that I don’t want exposure to interior designing or product development. FIDM provides a spectrum of interests, and I know that whichever path I choose, my experience at FIDM will help me succeed.  
Describe your entrance project. For the Merchandise & Marketing major, my entrance project asked me to envision myself as a store owner/buyer. The project required a description of my average customer, along with five accessorized outfits that would match the varied lifestyle of my customer. Not only did this project allowed me to put things into perspective on who my audience would be in the future, but it also gave me an understanding of what the projects would be like throughout the school year. 

What are your career goals? In the future, I aspire to become a buyer of my own retail company. Considering retail stores are gradually closing down, I plan on immersing myself in the e-commerce world. 

What do you expect to learn at FIDM? At FIDM, I anticipate receiving an education vital to succeed in the business field of fashion. I am confident that FIDM will allow me to create new relationships with outside sources by helping me succeed in my career path after college. I expect to garner the tools needed to succeed in this industry, by not only expanding on my knowledge, but also mentoring me on how to further apply my skills to my career path.