Zumiez Makes Virtual Visit to the Premier Group
Students in the Merchandise Product Development and Merchandising & Marketing Premier Groups were recently joined by a guest speaker from Seattle—Ciel Kullman, the Director of Product Development at Zumiez—who shared industry insights and an overview of the ins and outs of product development. Ciel, a graduate of FIDM’s International Manufacturing & Product Development (IMPD) Program and the Seattle Chapter Representative of the FIDM Alumni Association, said, “Going to FIDM was life-changing.”
Zumiez, founded in 1978 as Above The Belt, is a specialty retailer headquartered in Seattle that now centers around fashion, music, art, culture, and action sports. They have 720 stores in seven countries and continue to thrive during the global pandemic. “Business is good. It’s unpredictable, but it’s been surprisingly good,” she said.
Ciel, who got her first job through the FIDM Career Center as a technical designer—filled the students in on how Zumiez finds trends and translates them into products. They stay ahead of developing trends by following festivals and keeping track of influencers and artists on blogs and social media. They know their customer as well as their buying trends.
She covered the customer profiles that Zumiez has identified and targets, as well as their trend filter. She explained what buyers do in terms of analysis, sales, and stock. “Our marketing department does amazing things with how they connect with our customers, especially during COVID-19.” They have a great social presence on Instagram. Not only does Zumiez have an Instagram for their brand, each store has their own individual Instagram in order to engage on a more personal level.
When asked about her FIDM experience, she said that the real-world scenarios built into FIDM’s curriculum taught her so much. She learned the rules of professionalism and not to take for granted the value of something as basic as not being late. She said the program set her up to know how to transition into a career. “IMPD was literally everything.” She said that as a grad, she could walk into an interview and say, “I’ve been to China; I’ve networked with vendors.” The IMPD experience was confidence building, she said.
As far as advice for the students, she said, “Love what you do. And network. When you meet someone in the industry, nurture that connection. Maybe keep a note in your phone about that person.”
She informed the students that Zumiez is now starting the interview process for their summer internship program.
FIDM Career Advisors Simona Williams and Rosemarie Konar started off the meeting with job lead updates at companies including PacSun, LA Made, and Giorgio Armani, and encouraged the students to connect with them for more information.