#DinaAsherSmith for #LVFW20. The latest #LouisVuitton campaign stars an inspiring cast of @NicolasGhesquiere’s friends. Explore the collection and new SINCE 1854 line via link in bio.
From Client Advisor to Senior Merchandising Manager
H I feel as though all these experiences have really made me who I am. They've built on each other.
My name is Rebecca.
I started my career 15 years ago in Columbus, Ohio. I started out as a client advisor for the store there part-time.
I was kind of the weekend closer person because I was in school for full-time during the week. It was a great experience because when I was there, I had all those moments of high traffic clienteling coming in. I was able to build a lot of strong relationships. I think that's when I first realized what luxury was.
From Colombus, I've held a few different roles. I think my next major city I went to was Chicago. Then a few years after Chicago, I made my way up to New York.
When I moved to New York for Vuitton, I actually came in as a Team Universe Manager for a men's store. I opened the first men's store we had here in North America. That was amazing.
I think always when I do mobility and I changed roles that the first three months are a little challenging. It's very exciting as much as it can be a bit uncomfortable to start over or to move to a city. For example, when I moved to Chicago, I knew no one. I just picked up and moved from Ohio to Chicago for this new experience. Not only was I learning the ins and outs of a new store, a new team, but then I was also really learning my new life. I feel now as change comes, whether it's within my personal or my professional life, I'm usually pretty receptive.
I managed a project that we worked on the collaboration with Supreme. From a merchandising standpoint, I was the lead of the project.
We were quite transparent on things. Because we did this collaboration with an outside streetwear brand, we had to be more agile. Everything was a bit top secret until the last moment. It made it very, very fun. It was definitely something that I will never forget.
I've really tried to work hard on taking advantage of every moment, not only whether it's having fun in a team building situation, or staying very late nights in a buying session while we're in Paris, or working with a VIC client. I feel as though all these experiences have really made me who I am. They've built on each other.
I think sometimes when we think about mobility, and when we hear about mobility with outside companies, it's very fast moving. Mobility happens in these companies within a year, within eight months, within two years maximum. That's not always the case in Vuitton. I actually appreciate that because I think we get to learn our roles much better. I feel very lucky because I have retail experience for 11 years I was in store. Now, I've also had corporate experience through merchandising, where I get to work with many different teams.
It's a very unique and diverse role that I'm now in that I feel as though it could take me anywhere. I can't say what my next step will be, but I'm sure it will be equally as exciting to what I've experienced so far.
Rebecca, Merchandising Manager
From London to Tokyo
I’ve never felt like it’s been almost 15 years being in this Maison. There’s never a moment where you think “this is not possible or it’s impossible”.
My name is Mayuko. My current position is Vice President for Merchandising and VM (Visual Merchandising).
So this means managing two departments.
The first one involves really starting from the first part of the product cycle, where we see the products in the showroom in Paris, and we work on what is best for Japan in terms of product offer, what we want to do in terms of strategy. So, of course, we receive the general strategy and what we want to do as a brand, but then we try to filter, and we digest things, we try to see what that means for our zone. And then after the buys and assortments being made in Paris, we take that back into Japan where we work also with the Visual Merchandising team to see how that will roll out in store.
I started my career in 2003 in the New Bond Street store in London.
I was extremely lucky to work within the Watch & Jewelry team, the Visual Merchandising team, the after-sales team and the leather goods team. So it was an extremely fulfilling challenge, and really created the base of my career within Louis Vuitton.
The journey has been extremely smooth, and yet full of different things happening along the way. So first starting from New Bond Street in the store, this was for about six months, and then I was in the head office in London, and I was representing the UK, Scandinavia and Ireland for Regional Products Merchandising Manager. After one year, I was in the Paris office, in the Europe zone, where I had many different experiences: first within the ready-to-wear team, and then working in the accessories team, where we built merchandising and accessories, which was not existent then, and then moving on to leather goods. That’s when I was also weighing out the fact that I’m Japanese, and I’d actually never lived in Japan before, so due to personal reasons, I wanted to be closer to my family.
And what was quite amazing is that of course we are LVMH, we are Louis Vuitton, so there was this amazing chance to be able to move by mobility, which is how I moved into Louis Vuitton Japan, to become Merchandising Manager for leather goods.
And then there was an opportunity within LVMH still, but in FENDI, this time in Hong Kong, when I then moved back after a year to Tokyo, within a brand outside of LVMH.
However, 2½ years ago there was this wonderful opportunity to be the Vice President of Merchandising here, which I gladly took because it’s really maximizing the experiences that I’ve had so far within all product categories. So this is how I came back to Louis Vuitton in Tokyo.
What keeps me excited within Louis Vuitton is that you’re on a treadmill; it doesn’t stop. I’ve never felt like it’s been almost 15 years being in this Maison. I guess we go through so many changes, so many different things happening, so many new challenges coming on board, that we really do never stop.
There’s never a moment where you think “this is not possible or it’s impossible”, because there’s always a way to then look at something differently. There’s no set career plan in the sense that once you join the Maison you start with A and then it’s B, C, D. It depends on what happens afterwards to then determine what could be the path.
Obviously, when you spend more than ten years in a company or when you work extremely closely - because sometimes in the showrooms in Paris, for example during the buying sessions, we are together from 8 o’clock in the morning until midnight - it’s extremely tough mentally and physically. So that’s when you have that one moment when you’re parting, when you have your farewell goodbyes, that you really have made not only solid professional relationships, but really good friendships: a lot of trust, a lot of connections with people beyond just Louis Vuitton and merchandising.
Mayuko, Vice President Merchandising, Louis Vuitton Japan
From Store Manager to Retail Trainer
My name is Aaron.
I started my career at Louis Vuitton in November of 2010, so a week before Thanksgiving, as the store manager for the shops at the Bravern in Seattle, Washington.
It was a smaller intimate team, I was one of seven and really, really enjoyed delving into Louis Vuitton. It’s something the magic that you feel when you first start working there but I got to experience a lot in those first three years.
I remember we had a sales meeting in San Francisco in 2013, and we had a general session, and one of the store managers stood up and ask about mobility. Mr. Burke said, “I hear what you’re saying sometimes you will have to move away from your friends and your family to grow yourself and stretch yourself. (…) If you have a track record of proven performance, if you’re hungry to learn and to improve, then you should raise your hand.” I took that seriously and I thought “I think he’s talking to me”. I went home, and I raise my hand and through conversations and some interviewing I took a position in San Francisco as the team manager for leather goods and accessories.
I was in San Francisco for about two years, and then I had an opportunity to come to the corporate side. I always felt that as a store manager we train and we coach on the daily basis, but I thought it would be interesting to focus that energy full time as a retail learning manager, so I audition for the position and I got the job and I moved again to Los Angeles. I keep making jokes at this rate I’m going to – if I keep moving south I’m going to be in Mexico, I’m going to keep moving further down. I’m very happy in LA and so I’ve been the retail learning manager in base out of LA for the west coast since 2015.
The stores are such a vibrant fast fanatic places and to understand the business right there in the frontlines with our clients, with our store teams gave me tremendous insight when it comes to being a retail learning manager. Is the training relevant? Will this work? How will this scale?
Things happen, and sometimes I have to correct or pivot it different way to make sure that the learning is really happening.
There’s a lot of magic when it comes to training, there’s that sugar high that you get, and it will wear off.
I love unlocking potential through facilitation, I love it when the light bulbs go on and people see how they can go further with something.
Aaron, Senior Retail Learning Manager
Grande finale. In Tokyo, @VirgilAbloh’s Adventures of Zoooom with Friends erupted into a joyful firework display following the travelling collection’s presentation. Watch the latest #LouisVuitton show at http://on.louisvuitton.com/6011GqFOx