By Juliana McLeod
Photos: Rachel Worthman
This past Tuesday, Nov. 5, two of Northeastern’s very own students talked to members of the Fashion & Retail Society about their positions as merchandisers for the online jewelry company, Chloe + Isabel. The two students, Chelsea Asermely and Joy Li, let us know about not only the benefits of working for a fashion company, but also the lessons learned from first-hand experiences with marketing and sales.
The company, whose headquarters are located in New York City, began only three years ago and has already been mentioned by publications such as Vogue, InStyle and Glamour.
Chloe + Isabel is made up of merchandisers that purchase the company’s products on their own before selling it to customers, whether it is the merchandiser’s mother, friend or a complete stranger. As long as the merchandisers are learning about marketing and how to connect with customers, the ability to pitch products and showcase jewelry is achieved over time, as well as the comfortability with making sales.
“I’m getting braver with reaching out to sell products. I just have to get over those initial, first five scary seconds,” said Asermely.
For beginning merchandisers, the company provides the merchandiser with a starter set of 16 pieces. If the merchandiser wants to sell more than that, he or she must purchase the products on his or her own. The more the salesperson purchases, the higher the chance to make money. It’s the trick of the trade.
At Chloe + Isabel, the merchandiser is everything — the buyer, the marketer, the salesperson, all of it. The personal purchasing power of the merchandiser allows him or her to learn what products customers are interested in and the most efficient ways to market these products. Best of all, this is all on their own time, as long as they meets their self-set goals, explained Asermely.
However, with the perks come the difficult lessons. Li explained her experiences with her two boutique-located pop-up shows, comprised of Li setting up a table with Chloe + Isabel products and reaching out to potential customers. These pop-up shows can be quite successful if hosted by someone who invites many friends, since these friends will be eager to purchase jewelry along with the host. Yet, Li learned the hard way that strangers are less likely to purchase from a pop-up show, especially when they are intent on buying products other than jewelry.
Even more difficult is the option of conducting an online pop-up show, which lacks the personal connection that may form between a merchandiser and the customer. Both girls emphasized that this personal connection is essential for maintaining long-term customer-retailer relationships, something Chloe + Isabel stands for.
Overall, this experience gave Asermely and Li the knowledge needed to be successful in the fashion industry, as well as in sales. The most reputable of lessons, though?
“I’ve learned so many skills. A lot of it is time management and marketing through social media. You don’t think it has a big impact but it does. Even with the smallest post, someone will see it and they can ask you about it,” said Li.