K eisha Holmes attended Mt. San Antonio College and majored in fashion merchandise with a minor in marketing. As a kid she states she was one of those people who did not have a clue about what they wanted to grow up and do. The closest goal she considered was social worker. As she got older Holmes tried many different career paths such as a medical assistant, physical therapy, and even financial services. It was not until she was a holiday employee that she fell into love with retail and the industry. Not too far after this revelation, did she do research on the careers in fashion, and knew she had found her calling. Where else have you worked and what has those jobs taught you? I’ve worked at Frederick’s of Hollywood in Los Angeles. As well as national stores such as: Hot Topic, Torrid, and Forever 21. I’ve also done my own independent sales from self-business. But, this is just the fashion jobs. Lol! Every company has their own way of doing things, but a few things in common………. the pace is quick, so learn to multi-task & be organized in your thought process. Change is necessary, so keeping up with new management, switching departments, developing people skills to get what you need is key! What general experience do you believe is needed when pursuing a career in Fashion Merchandise? Initiative, good instincts, a good eye & a great attitude. If you could describe to me the best moment of your career, what would it be? Honestly, the day I was laid off at Forever 21. I had started an amazing brand in Forever 21+. But, I was trying to figure out the next phase of my career. In this moment, I had to face life after this place I’d been for 8 years. I loved my team & my little work family, it was hard to imagine not being there every day. I had an opportunity to branch out from buyer life to independent sales. It tests you as a person. Stepping outside my comfort zone to the opposite side of the business was exciting. The best part was I worked from home & made my own schedule, it was great. It led me to past connections & an offer to partner with a former vendor to launch Curvy Sense. All of the years of being known as an expert in plus sizes paid off. It stretched me to stand on my own to put into practice all the things I’ve
learned over the years. Production, buying, marketing, PR, pattern making, warehouse receiving & everything under the sun! It’s been an amazing experience seeing my new baby blossom into a multi-million dollar business in less than 2 years. What are different challenges you faced while trying to bring up your career, how did you overcome them? One of the biggest challenges I faced was re-establishing my career after side stepped into financial services for a few years. I realized it was not the industry for me & wanted to come back to fashion. I had to start as entry level assistant buyer again. All of my friends were already associates & buyers, I was so discouraged. But, I put my head down & worked harder than everyone else until I found the right job. I was able to get a promotion in 2 different companies within 2 years. What advice do you have for future Fashion Merchandise pursuers like me? I would say, NO TASK IS TOO SMALL. I’ve found in the last few years, the “fresh out of school” employees have an entitled disposition. There’s a fine line between confidence & arrogance. Be humble, take in all the information you can, take good notes, ask lots of questions & take the initiative to go above & beyond. Be helpful in every situation, embrace & be ready for daily changes. It’s just the business we’re in. Do you recommend me joining any organizations if so, which ones? In this day of social media, there’s many mixers & networking opportunities. I’ve attended some great seminars & events through Girls in Tech, Fashion Conventions such as Magic Trade shows & Fashion week events. Of course, your alumni associations through school are always great resources. Do you recommend any readings? I subscribe to multiple blogs & email blasts. Fashionista, Pop Sugar, Racked & Who What Wear are my favorites. I also follow just about every Plus Fashion Blogger there is. Of course fashion magazines both online & in print are great.