Walk readers, meet Katherine Volakis, the e-commerce merchandiser for Lilly Pulitzer. She grew up in Pittsburgh, PA and attended college at Drexel University from 2004-2008, studying design and merchandising. After various internships during her college years and some experience in retail, she managed to make her way to a dream job!
Janey: What company do you work for, and what is your position?
Katherine: I work for Lilly Pulitzer and I am the e-commerce merchandiser.
J: What did you study in college? Did you always know you wanted to work in fashion?
K: I studied Design and Merchandising. From as long as I can remember fashion was always a huge influence in my life. The colors, textures, and designs of clothing always interested me. When I was first entering college I was unsure exactly what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to learn more about the business aspect, as well as challenge my imagination to think in innovative ways.
J: How did you make your way to Lily Pulitzer?
K: My first relevant job was helping out with visuals, in store at Banana Republic. I then got my first internship at Nicole Miller and learned the world of wholesale sales. My first job out of college was at the L.A. based t-shirt company Three Dots. I was the account executive for New York and international specialty accounts. This was a great experience, but I learned quickly wholesale sales was not what I wanted. I would find myself spending more time trying to merchandise the line and figure out what was missing and how the line could improve. When the Lilly Pulitzer opportunity came up, I thought it was too good to be true. It is exactly what I want to be doing; it has the aspect of creativity in the merchandising and the challenge of buying.
J: How would you describe your personal style?
K: Girly, romantic, and classic. I love ruffles and I am not afraid of color. I also love the classics like a crisp white blouse, black leather heels, and timeless handbags.
J: What do you love most about your job?
K: I am not doing the same thing every day. There are days I will be planning out the e-commerce buy and then the next day I will be at our photo shoots for the website. I also love how e-commerce shopping is the future and there is more to learn every day.
J: Favorite article of clothing you own?
K: Dark indigo denim jeans. They make any blouse look chic.
J: Who is your fashion icon?
K: Grace Kelly. A style icon that brought her American style all over the world!
J: Style advice?
K: Follow your own rules. Take the season’s current trends with a grain of salt. You know what looks best on you and it may not necessarily be the “it” thing. Take the current styles and make them your own.
J: Could you offer a few tips for anyone looking to break into the fashion industry?
K: Never say no to an opportunity. Any experience is one step closer to your goal. The industry is looking for hard-workers with real life experiences. If you can afford an unpaid internship, take it. If not, look into retail and work your way up.
Thanks Kat – we will!