Intern Chronicles: Student Takes Leap Into Luxury in the Fashion Capital

Victoria Adesanmi got prime opportunity in highly competitive retail market

Victoria Adesanmi relocated to New York to pursue an opportunity to work for Henri Bendel and found success. (Image: Adesanmi)

This week, BlackEnterprise.com chronicles real-life internship experiences, including lessons, challenges, and triumphs of professionals in a range of careers. Take a page from these professionals’ books to find success in your internship or evaluate the internships your company offers:

The fashion industry can be highly competitive, so if you’re not ready to take the heat, succeeding might be quite a challenge. As a college senior, Victoria Adesanmi decided to take on the challenge head on, relocating to New York to pursue an opportunity to work for Henri Bendel, an elite women’s retailer based in New York.

Her decision not only helped her go beyond her own personal and professional limits, but she discovered an awesome city experience as well as a greater understanding of the fashion world as a business — beyond the glitz and glam.

10 a.m.
I meet with managers to discuss upcoming projects and my progress on the ones that I am currently working on.

I’m responsible for designing and implementing new products such as cosmetic bags, stationary, holiday items, and tech accessories. So, I have to conduct research to understand new trends on the market by our competitors and come up with design ideas and options.  I then get feedback from my managers, and once a concept is approved, we prepare the specs and the visualizations to show sourcing and merchants to prepare to send to our vendors.

12 p.m.
Today we have a series speaker event, which usually happens once a week. I really enjoy this because I get the opportunity to listen to professionals working at Henri Bendel and learn their roles and what there daily routine. I get exposed to the different aspects of the fashion business including finance, public relations, store operations, design, and marketing.

2 p.m.
I have a merchant meeting, which is also once a week. Designers, merchants, and sourcing professionals meet together to discuss progress on current projects and to reinforce that we are meeting deadlines for our vendors.

Throughout my day, I can learn more about how to communicate effectively with my co-workers, how to receive constructive criticism and feedback, and apply it to make improvements, and to always be flexible and willing to make adjustments when necessary.

4 p.m.
I continue to work on different projects and prepare a report on my progress to present tomorrow.

All of this really has helped with my future plans: I hope to attend to grad school soon to pursue a Master of Science in Textiles. I specifically love designing soft goods, accessories, and footwear. I was fortunate enough during this internship to be able to do that!

Adesanmi’s Tips for Internships

Be willing to be receptive of feedback and constructive criticism. Learn how to apply those insights to make improvements. It’s important as a designer not to get too attached to your projects.

Be flexible and able to multitask. You will be more than likely be working on more than one project at at time.

Get beyond the jaded fantasy you might have in mind about the fashion industry. While people in the fashion industry on TV are portrayed as harsh and demanding, I can’t say the same specfically for Henri Bendel. Everyone here was great to work with, receptive of feedback, and were always willing to help one another.

Plan well for relocating to any of the fashion capitals. As a Maryland native, I reside very close to Washington, D.C. so I am very familiar with using public transpiration and dealing with city traffic. During my internship, I stayed in the Bronx with my aunt and commuted to work in the city. For any students relocating for their internship opportunity, specfically in New York, please please please try to stay with a friend or family member if possible since the cost of living there is super expensive!

For more information on fashion internship opportunities, visit BragUSA.org or Ed2010.com.

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