Product development is a crucial facet in the fashion industry. Professionals in these roles find ways to move the brand forward—searching for new fashion trends and other innovative ways to promote organizational growth and sales.
These are facts Salin Lim, a current retailing and consumer sciences student at the University of Arizona, knows well, especially after spending the summer working in product development at Macy’s, Inc. It was the perfect opportunity for someone like Salin, who’s always wanted to start her own business and enjoys spotting attractive products online and finding cheaper means to produce comparable alternatives.
That’s not to say Salin was always determined to head into product development. In fact, it wasn’t until she attended the Ideas 2 Doors conference at the Terry Lundgren Center for Retailing that her interest in product development was piqued into a potential career path.
“The product team is touching and manipulating a product every step of the way until it’s ready for consumers to buy.”
Upon reaching Macy’s, Salin hopped onto Alfani and Giani Bernini—two brands that weren’t within her own fashion tastes since they’re targeted outside her demographic. It was the perfect fit, however, as it taught her to always remain unbiased in product development. The initially-awkward assignment sparked an invaluable piece of advice from Robert Keffer, VP Fashion Director in Home: It’s better to start your career working on a product you don’t connect with. If you can successfully buy, plan, or execute a product you don’t love, you can do incredible things for products you genuinely care about.
“If you can successfully buy, plan, or execute a product you don’t love, imagine what you can do with a product you do love.”
Salin’s work was felt throughout the brands. Each Monday, she spearheaded a portion of the weekly reports destined for presentation at the weekly meeting. This required her to regularly identify volume drivers, weekly highlights, newless, and input the performance of each style from the previous week.
You may even spot some of Salin’s insights in upcoming products. To assist in Giani Bernini’s Spring 2019 collection, she developed a retail analysis to help the team better price the collection and visualize how their shoes will look on the floor next to competitors. What’s more, Salin scoured through customer reviews of each style, looking for positive and negative trends regarding construction and comfort. All of these details were compiled and sent to the team so they can determine how the products should be modified for future sales.
Integral to all of Salin’s success as an intern was the skillset she gained in University of Arizona classrooms. Her proficiency in Excel, gained from a prerequisite course, proved tremendously helpful on the job. She was also able to efficiently read and analyze data reports, thanks to her Retail Business Analysis and Supply Chain courses.
Salin is back in the classroom now, expanding her skillset even further so that she can have an immediate impact on a future employer after graduation.