- Isabella Griffiths |
As part of FashionUnited’s Work In Fashion series, Jess Tedds, International Wholesale Senior Manager at womenswear brand Quiz Clothing, shares the ins and outs of her job and her top tips for a career in fashion wholesale.
What is your background?
From a young age, I have always had a passion for working in fashion and as soon as I was able to work, I secured a part-time job at River Island while at Leicester College. After school, I completed a two-year BTEC course in Fashion Design. From there, I secured a place at the Retail Academy in London for a BA Hons in Fashion Buying & Merchandising for a one-year intensive course. I deferred my place for a year to apply for a Fashion Administrator role for a menswear supplier in Leicester, supplying to the likes of Next. After two nerve-wracking interviews, I got the job! After one year I was promoted from my Administrator role to Product Developer and in two years I was officially made an Account Manager. I was lucky enough to travel all over the world, visiting factories and fabric mills from Bangladesh to Vietnam and doing comparison shopping trips to Paris, Amsterdam and Los Angeles! It was an amazing experience and I was lucky enough to work with some incredibly talented people along the way, learning all the dynamics of the business from quality control to merchandising and design.
The company I worked for then relocated to London to grow its portfolio with a greater focus on accounts in the South, so I jumped at the opportunity and moved to London. Once there, I worked with established retailers such as ASOS, Primark and Burtons, where I was the Account Manager for men's swimwear. It was so much fun!
How did you advance to your current role?
In 2016, I re-located to Glasgow to be with my partner and was offered a brand-new role at Quiz as an e-commerce wholesale manager within the international team. As retail moved online, it was a fantastic opportunity for me to help grow the business and source new international wholesale partners. Fast forward two and a half years and Quiz is now in multiple international markets, stores and concessions, as well as online.
What does your job role entail?
I am the main contact for all our international wholesale partners and work closely with our partners in the USA who have both a web and store offer across the East Coast of America. I’m also regularly in talks with new potential partners, visiting their offices and presenting our product.
What does a typical day in your job look like?
There is no such thing as a typical day at Quiz. As I work with mostly international partners, by the time I get into work in the morning my mailbox is flooded with emails. With a strong cup of coffee, I start answering them.
Most of my day is spent working closely with the buyers to ensure the smooth delivery of our products. I also analyse weekly sales reports, so I can offer to replenish stock or style alternatives as well as input all our partners’ weekly orders whilst managing their budget and monthly spend. In addition, I work closely with the international marketing team to ensure we are involved in seasonal marketing opportunities to help drive brand awareness in the new territories.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
I would say confidence and charisma is key to this role. You are essentially a salesperson and speaking to new people every day, so you need to come across as passionate and enthusiastic about what you do. You also need good time management skills to ensure you can meet your daily tasks and partner deadlines.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
That every day is different and the opportunities for growth are endless. The sky is the limit working within the international team at Quiz.
Is there anything you don’t like so much?
I’m not a huge fan of the admin side, but I know it has to be done.
How does working in wholesale differ from other sales or retail roles?
It’s completely the opposite end of retail from my previous role. I used to supply to the brands, however, I now work for a brand where I wholesale the product to other global fashion destinations. I’ve also really enjoyed moving across to womenswear from menswear. Womenswear is constantly changing and is very trend driven. Factory lead-times in my previous role used to be 3-4 months and we were working on collections a full year in advance. However, at Quiz we are very reactive to the latest trends and our lead-times and repeats are as quick as 2-4 weeks. So, it’s a huge difference.
How do you measure success in your role?
We look at the weekly sales of our stockists. Although it is wholesale and they own the stock, we can still glean a lot about what is working well, and which lines are resonating with customers. This way, I can support them further by offering repeats and tailoring exclusives for their specific market.
Do you feel working in wholesale offers solid and varied career development opportunities?
Absolutely, there is massive potential for growth within wholesale as there are always new third-party businesses constantly looking to expand their brand mix, whether that’s offline and online. Within Quiz there are also many different categories to wholesale such as footwear, menswear and our curve range.
Do you have any tips for anyone looking to pursue a career in fashion?
Try and gain as much experience as possible within the fashion and retail industry. Make sure you talk to everyone you come across and learn from their experience and absorb as much of their knowledge as you can. These relationships are key, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Within wholesale, your main role will be maintaining good working relationships with your partners and selling product that you believe in, so make sure you are constantly working on your people skills. Most importantly love what you do, as life is just too short for it to be any other way!
Photos courtesy of the brand