Yesterday a connection on LinkedIn shared a link from You Tube entitled “I work in fashion merchandising.” It was tongue in cheek, and I found myself doubled over in laughter as the madness of this work we so love was perfectly described. Especially the part about how often we tend to injure ourselves: hoisting mannequins overhead, balancing on ladders no one would freely elect to balance on, hanging signage that just doesn’t stay put, carrying pounds of merchandise on our forearms and overstraining our shoulders, and once done, coming in to work only to find that it has all been dismantled or someone else wanted to try out a new idea.
The truth of the matter is, we in the visual merchandising world, do not do what we do for the money, nor for the perks of working in whatever retail environment we work in. While I was addicted to the employee discount at REI, it was not what drove me to excel in my work. What drove me to excel in my work was a passionate love affair with everything visual: customer psychology, balance and color in display, seeing product sell more quickly after being more creatively organized on a fixture, and that absolutely delightful and frightening moment of reworking a wall an hour or two before the store opened in shoulder season without solid floorset guidance.
No, we do what we do for the love of creation and for the high we get when we drive sales because of that creativity. Even though my work today revolves around education and training, I am still drawn to create a window display or dress the mannequins in every store I visit.
So today’s tip really isn’t a tip, but is a suggestion that you recognize all those on your staff who are the muscles behind your store’s silent selling. Respect their efforts and if they fall short of your expectations, provide them with the tools to guide them towards excellence. If you must dismantle one of their creations, share why. Recognize the power your visual merchandisers have and encourage their growth.
You will not be disappointed.