Not gonna lie, “dress-buying intern” sounds like my dream job.
Carlie works with BHLDN (pronounced “beholden”), URBN’s wedding brand that specializes in bridal gowns, bridesmaid dresses, accessories, and décor. We talked about what a buyer’s job is really like, how it feels to transition from store associate to Home Office employee, aesthetics, and interviewing tips.
Could you describe your internship position and some of the day-to-day tasks that you perform on the job?
I’m a buying intern for BHLDN, and some of my daily tasks include keeping in contact with vendors, so that might be sending them their weekly sales reports, or sending samples back that they either need to bring to market, or that we need to send back to change the size or color of a garment. I open up samples; vendors email me about different clothes they want us to look at, or different styles that they think are trending, which opens up a discussion with the buying team. I create spec sheets for every single brand under URBN, which contain details about an item, such as its size and fit, and I send them to the vendors to complete. I make boards for my team’s weekly meetings, paying attention to both our best- and worst-selling items. If an item isn’t selling well, we talk to the styling and merchandising teams to come up with a creative way to make the product speak to the customer. Some of the boards I make involve what may be coming up – new textiles, new sizes, switching up a dress that we may have sold two years ago and making it strapless … these boards also contain information like when items will be available in stores, specific launch days, if they’ll be exclusive to the website or the store, and so on.
BHLDN launched on Valentine’s Day in 2011, so it’s pretty new to the URBN family. How does it feel like to work on something that hasn’t been as established?
I actually worked in an Anthropologie store in Chicago, which has one of the only stand-alone BHLDN stores (normally, they are located inside of Anthropologie). Before starting my internship, I didn’t realize how blessed I was to see and know customers and be in constant communication with them; to be able to go in the store and see what product was on the floor and to be able to see and touch it in person. I have an intimate knowledge of what customers want, and it really helps me in my current position. My team right now is really small – we’re almost like a family. You really get to know everyone around you.
What are the main differences between working for BHLDN at the Home Office and working there as a store associate?
As a store associate, you’re trying to make the customer’s experience the best it could possibly be, and part of that is trying to get them to work with whatever is on the floor. Working at the Home Office and getting to implement ideas is really refreshing. I know what customers were saying when I was working in-store, and here I can take that knowledge and experiment with it, like, “alright, we’re gonna test this color on the customer and see if she really loves it,” or “this dress might go well with those earrings”, and it’s a lot easier just to have an open concept than having to be in the store with a certain product. I can be more creative at the Home Office than I get to be on the sales floor. I miss my daily interactions with customers, though.
What’s your favorite part about working at the Home Office?
My favorite part is when I come into work every day and see every employee’s personal style on display. It really inspires me; I love seeing what trends they’re embodying so that I can bring that to the table.
Did you attend Interview Day, and were you nervous at all? How did you first hear about the internship, and how did you go about getting it?
I was an Anthropologie sales associate prior to beginning the intern interview process. My store manager and my coworkers pushed me to go for it. As a recently graduated senior, though, I wasn’t sure whether to go for the internship or an entry-level position. I talked with a recruiter, and we both agreed that the BHLDN buying intern position would be the best for me based on my experiences at Anthro, what I like in a work environment, and what I was looking for in my career. As part of my application, I had to create a trend board for Fall 2017, including what I saw was coming up, what I liked, and what color palettes I thought were appropriate. Around Christmas, I got an email that I made Interview Day. A lot of my friends had gotten declined, so I was really shocked when I found out I’d made it that far. I flew to Philly in January for Interview Day – I was really nervous at first, but talking to the other prospective interns really eased my nerves. A lot of them were in the same boat as me; they were graduating, or they’d gone to similar schools, and they also didn’t know what to expect. When it actually came time to interview, though, I was really focused. It started out formal, but I definitely developed a personal connection with both of my interviewers, which helped ease the tension a lot.
What’s some advice you would give someone who is looking to apply to the URBN internship program?
You may not identify a lot with the brands – let’s say you weren’t as boho chic as Free People or as young and “hipster” as Urban Outfitters – but you should definitely showcase your unique style. Have an open mind. You may be the breath of fresh air that they are looking for!
What’s one thing that you would want everyone to take advantage of at the Home Office?
I love the cafeteria! The food here is definitely a perk to have at the Home Office.
You’re new to Philly. What have you done around the city, and where are some of your favorite places to go here?
Unfortunately, I really haven’t had a chance to explore Philly these last two weeks! This weekend will be my first foray out. I do think I’m the most frequent customer at Trader Joe’s. That’s probably one of the biggest things I’ve gotten to know. I also really like Rita’s Italian Ice!
What are some of your favorite things that are in the URBN stores right now, and which brand do you personally identify with the most?
I would identify with BHLDN or Anthropologie the most. I’ve been shopping at Anthropologie since I was a freshman in high school, and one thing that I really like about it is that it’s a store that anyone can shop at. Moms, grandmothers, and daughters can go in there and each find something to enjoy. It hits every stage of life. Right now, some of my favorite things in the stores are Free People’s mules (I’m obsessed with them; it’s a trend I’m really big on), Anthro’s tassel jewelry, denim corsets, and espadrilles that I just ordered in the mail.
How would you describe your personal style, and what’s your favorite outfit to wear?
I would label my style as “Urban Preppy.” I love classics like blue and white stripes, pearls, pink, and anything that has a timeless look. I take that, and I add things that are on-trend, like tassels, or floral embroidery. I have a really girly sense of style; I like to put romantic twists on street style.
How would you describe the outfit you’re wearing right now?
Romantic and whimsical, with a touch of the classics I love. ♚