07 July 2009

Training Day One; Rummaging & V V Brown

Yesterday I began my training at BHF nothing could prepare me for the utter hectic go-go chaos (good positive chaos that is) military operation that takes place behind the scenes of British Heart Foundation, nooo there wasn't any drills or shouting but plenty of action and missions to complete...
I arrived calm and collected convincing myself, 'tis just a charity shop were not talking Topshop flagship store.' Ignorance is bliss is it not? When at university I wrote an in depth essay on charity shops interviewing those who make it happen,like I said nothing could prepare me for what awaited in the smart fashion studio style office full with staff around a similar age of mine. Once again my all so ignorant assumptions proved disgraceful. Why? This is what I had envisioned pre- entering the BHF office.
My vision featured, older volunteers and older staff, and a ghost like fashion trend clueless office with the odd tumbleweed of donated tweed passing by in between several tea and biscuit breaks i.e I had expected the condition and atmosphere to be that of those small rooms located at the rear of many charity shops. Where elderly kind laid back volunteers discuss what their going to have for dinner and the next episode of their adored TV soap programs.
How very incorrect my vision proved to be.

The first thing to hit me was the enormous office studio, with several separate rooms and areas, each extremely buzzing with busy energy this is one fierce fashion retail business.Retail with amazing benefits.
I was greeted by the manager and had a tour of her office area, the phone or phones ringing about every thirty seconds! My introduction began with a run through the role of her manager and head office, eekkkk! Intimidating to say the least... nice intimidating.
The process is so very very complex, to fully explain it I'd have to create a whole new blog, basically it involves a whole lot of energy, serious multi-tasking and alot more than door donations. They work closely with numerous highstreet giants, big recycling companies and the communities right across the UK, with important business meetings every few weeks and various training programs every few months. Its evident BHF does indeed operate flagship store style. Their approach, methods and structure is one hundred percent identical to that of your Topshop, Newlook, H&M etc.
In short I underestimated the too humble charity shops, and I'm glad I did. As I feared becoming one bored (short attention span) numb fashion graduate lacking any real challenge ( I thrive on tough challenges it keeps mundane at bay).Feeling like a complete out of place plonker twiddling my thumbs desperate for home time to arrive so I could complain and moan about how basic and repetitive the training was. My lesson has been learned never under estimate charity shops.The retail side involves so much more then rummaging and cups of tea!

photo: Google

photos: clothes galore

Day one consisted of organising a major meeting, with phones going off here there and every where, post it notes flying around and admin work like I've never experienced before in my life ( I lived off admin work when at college). All this in the first hour of my naive arrival. Curiosity was killing me when I helped with delivery of brand new highstreet stock, 'These all have tags still intact have they not been worn?' 'Duh air head moment well I didn't know all this went on...
'Yes these are new, we work with a partner company who gather left over stock from various fashion retail outlets. Say for example stock that didn't shift because the retail price was too high, stock left over from sales or stock from window displays there are many insane reasons to as why some stock never even see the shop floor' explains assistant manager, baffled I'm sure by my embarrassing lack of fashion retail knowledge. 'Did you not study fashion retail or fashion merchandise? I assumed you did. Because you've a real merchandise head on you.' Feeling even more red and ashamed of myself, 'Mmm no, no I never studied those, their separate courses so I believe anyway? I studied fashion design which covered an array of fashion related topics such as trend prediction ans I studied art history and cultural studies too as extra extensions.' Bless my assistant manger reassuring me, 'well don't worry not even I know every thing there is to know about this game, I'm learning all the time. I'm still impressed by your merchandise skills though: it is sharp common sense mixed with a strong understanding of the consumer this merchandise game and you've worked that out by yourself.'
Surprised by her praise all I could manage was a pathetic ' erm-oh thanks yeah I never really expected to be working within this area of fashion.'

photo: VV Brown

Lunch break was a piece of fruit, crackers, strong coffee and discussion about the plan for October 'Wow I thought you simply arranged the shops one day at a time, simply when they needed filling up'
There I go again speaking without thinking first, and generally exposing myself as an idiot in need of a frigging clue.
'Oh I wish, I wish. Here which accessories do you reckon from this selection? We rely on these hairbands, necklaces and other products to budge and pull in teenagers. They are key, take a look.'
The term 'key' fills me with dread this surely has to be the true definition of responsibility. Walking into a charity shop and rummaging through rails and purchasing an item I fancy is all very pleasant and effortless. But predict and purchasing a range of accessories for mass consumption is nothing but daunting.Slowly turning the pages, with staff looking at me waiting for answers, 'here highlight and circle your selections don't forget to provide an explanation to as why you think they will be successful' here goes nothing piece of cake, me thinks not!
'Well you see these bright sequin pieces here (pointing with my highlighter) they're not too dissimilar to something Little Boots, Lady Ga Ga or V V Brown might opt for. Sequins, bows are here to stay for a long while yet, and you only have to take note of popular music to gain an idea of trends.' Silence fills the room until someone speaks up, 'great well were get that sorted right away' shouts the manager.
I'm blaming V V Brown if my choices fail to shift!


Diary of a Young Designer said...

That's it girl! You wow them!! So proud of you!! ^-^ I'm glad you had such a great first day. I think from now on your going to be "key" for their success amongst youngsters. It seems such a great environment to be working in, a boss that praises you makes you feel reassured, believe me that is important!


Kat said...

of course you can!
i'm pretty flattered :)

prettyneons said...

Hey Oh thanks sophie Xx

and thanks Kat I can't wait have your illustrations on mu 'ickle blog X

Hope you both have a nice day (:
prettyneons X

Winnie said...

Glad you're having a great first day and I definitely understand your surprise at the way it's run. I would have been the same too!

Thanks for the header compliments, I got bored one night and ended up photoshopping a new header! Took me hours though!

butterfly said...

Wow! Fast learning curves and all that. I think you'll do great and the experience you'll gain will be fab :) Looking forward to hearing more charity shop tales!

Jojo said...

Yay good news for you. Well done that's so cool you're going to have a great time and a great experience.

Keep us posted on how it goes...

Love Jojo x

Em x said...

That sounds fantastic, i'm so jealous! x

prettyneons said...

Oh my gosh I cannot believe how encouraging and super kind you girls are!!!!
And I mean that too, I'm not just patting backs to gain comments, prettyneons isn't about getting millions of comments. I simply like talking or typing rather!

<3 PeAce*
moi (:

butterfly said...

Oh btw, you have an award to collect!

prettyneons said...

Oh my,thank you!!;)

Lauren and Jennifer said...

We love your blog!!!

FabBlab said...

So jealous!!

Sounds awesome. Happy for you ;)

Kisses! XX