Are you passionate about fashion, currently embarking on a fashion based course, or intrigued by the career of working in retail? This Q&A with Victoria Lammie of b.Kinda is for you! Whether you dream of becoming a fashion buyer, visual merchandiser, marketing specialist, or entrepreneur within the industry, this interview by Bracken Jelier will share the knowledge and insights necessary to embark on a fulfilling and successful career.
Delving into the fashion retail sector, Victoria gives us insights into her global experience in the field and answers to common questions to help you navigate your journey. Victoria was an original Y2K ladies wear designer and many of the images we’ve included in this article dates from the late 90’s or year 2000’s. Which are looks that are incredibly fashionable right now – such as the cargo pants. She even designed a collection with British Artist, Toby Mott. He had a fashion brand called ‘Toby Pimlico’ he’s also sometimes known as a punk historian. The collection was called ‘I Love My Bed’ and their collaboration launched the sleepwear range into M&S under license. Her work has featured in publications including Vogue, Marie Claire, Prima, The Daily Express, Devon Life, Coast to name but a few.
Bracken Jelier: Can you provide an overview of your background and experience in the fashion industry?
Victoria Lammie: Absolutely! My journey in the fashion industry began with a strong foundation in education. I pursued a BA Honours degree in fashion and textiles from De Montfort University, where I gained valuable knowledge about various aspects of the industry. Following my studies, I delved into the world of lingerie design, working for a small manufacturing business. During this time, I collaborated with prominent retailers such as Debenhams and Sainsbury’s, which allowed me to understand the intricacies of designing for different market segments.
Continuing my career, I had the opportunity to work as a designer for suppliers of M&S, focusing primarily on mix and match lingerie and sleepwear collections. It was an enriching experience to contribute to the development of the Relax at Home range, which introduced a new concept for M&S customers. Inspired by my entrepreneurial spirit, I eventually ventured into my own business, where I designed and manufactured lifestyle products like handbags and accessories. This venture allowed me to explore my creativity while understanding the practicalities of bringing a product to market.
Currently, I find myself in the exciting realm of vintage fashion, serving as the e-Commerce Manager at b.kinda. In this role, I work to curate pre-loved clothing boxes that bring joy and style to our customers’ lives. My diverse background and experiences have equipped me with a well-rounded perspective on the fashion industry, enabling me to contribute effectively to this dynamic sector.
Bracken: What initially drew you to pursue a career in the fashion industry?
Victoria: From a young age, I was captivated by the fashion industry’s allure. Growing up in a family with deep-rooted connections to fashion and witnessing the creative process of designers firsthand played a significant role in fuelling my passion. I was fortunate enough to attend fashion shows and observe the transformative power of fashion. The idea of designing something that brings joy and confidence to individuals resonated deeply with me. Fashion has the ability to empower and express one’s individuality, and I was drawn to being a part of that process.
Moreover, the fashion industry is constantly evolving and pushing boundaries, making it a dynamic and exciting field to work in. The prospect of contributing to the industry’s evolution, exploring new trends, and embracing sustainable practices became increasingly appealing to me. Helping to launch b.kinda, with its commitment to promoting sustainability, has allowed me to align my passion for fashion with my desire to make a positive impact on the environment and consumers’ choices.
Bracken: How do you ensure customer satisfaction when assembling the b.kinda boxes?
Victoria: Customer satisfaction is of utmost importance to us at b.kinda, and we strive to exceed our customers’ expectations with every box we curate. Achieving this involves a collaborative effort with my team, ensuring that we maintain a customer-centric approach throughout the process. To guarantee satisfaction, we follow several key steps.
Firstly, we invest time in understanding our customers’ preferences and tastes. We study different age groups, monitor current fashion trends, and immerse ourselves in what our customers might love. This understanding allows us to assemble boxes that resonate with our diverse customer base.
Secondly, communication within the team is vital. We have regular brainstorming sessions where we share ideas, discuss customer feedback, and analyse trends. This open dialogue ensures that we are always refining our selection process and staying up-to-date with preferences.
Finally, attention to detail is crucial when assembling the boxes. We meticulously handpick each item, considering factors such as quality, style, and versatility. We want our customers to feel a sense of excitement and anticipation when they receive their box, and we aim to exceed their expectations when they finally open it.
By combining these elements – understanding our customers, fostering a collaborative environment, and paying meticulous attention to detail – we aim to deliver an exceptional experience and ensure customer satisfaction with every b.kinda box.
Bracken: Some people may have reservations about pre-loved items or the mystery aspect of the b.kinda mystery boxes. How would you address their concerns?
Victoria: It’s understandable that individuals may have reservations when it comes to pre-loved items or the element of surprise associated with the b.kinda boxes. However, I believe that there are several compelling reasons to consider and embrace these aspects.
Firstly, pre-loved items offer unique and one-of-a-kind pieces that cannot be found in traditional retail settings. The thrill of discovering a hidden gem or a vintage treasure adds a sense of exclusivity to the b.kinda experience. It allows individuals to express their personal style in a way that stands out from the crowd.
Secondly, sustainability is a growing concern in the fashion industry, and by choosing pre-loved clothing, individuals can actively contribute to reducing waste and minimising their environmental impact. Each item in our boxes has a story to tell, and by giving it a second life, we participate in the circular fashion economy, promoting a more sustainable and conscious approach to fashion consumption.
Thirdly – the money is going towards end-of-life care and that’s surely the thing that clinches it for everyone. For only £15 you are making a vital donation and being given four items of clothing in exchange.
Addressing the mystery aspect of b.kinda boxes, we understand that some individuals may prefer a more curated shopping experience. However, we encourage them to embrace the element of surprise. Trying pre-loved pieces allows individuals to step out of their comfort zones, experiment with different styles, and discover brands they may not have considered before. It can be an exciting journey of self-expression and self-discovery.
For those with concerns, I would recommend giving b.kinda a try. Our boxes are affordably priced at just £15, making it a low-risk option. Even if individuals don’t love every item in the box, they can take comfort in knowing that their purchase contributes to a charitable cause. Moreover, the surprise factor adds an element of excitement and anticipation that traditional shopping experiences may lack.
Bracken: What advice would you offer someone interested in pursuing a career in the fashion retail sector?
Victoria: Pursuing a career in the fashion retail sector is exciting and rewarding and gives you the most incredible opportunities. The careers now available are even wider and more exciting than when I first started. The second-hand and pre-loved sector is a growing industry and fashion designers are having to diversify.
To set yourself up for success, here are a few key pieces of advice:
Education: Invest in acquiring a solid educational foundation in fashion or related fields. Formal education can provide you with valuable knowledge about design principles, textiles, retail operations, marketing, and more. Consider pursuing a degree or diploma that aligns with your interests and career aspirations. There are some amazing options right here in Plymouth.
Industry Experience: Seek opportunities to gain hands-on experience within the industry. Internships, apprenticeships, or entry-level positions with established brands, fashion houses, or retail companies can provide invaluable insights into the industry’s workings. This experience will enhance your understanding of the various aspects of fashion retail, build your network, and allow you to develop practical skills. I did this loads!
Networking: Cultivate relationships and build connections within the fashion industry. Attend industry events, join professional organisations, and engage with like-minded individuals. Networking can open doors to job opportunities, collaborations, and mentorship. It is a powerful way to expand your knowledge, gain insights, and stay updated with industry trends.
Stay Updated: Fashion is a fast-paced industry, and trends evolve rapidly. Stay informed about the latest fashion trends, consumer preferences, and emerging technologies that impact the retail sector. Read fashion publications, follow influential designers and industry experts on social media, and attend trade shows and fashion weeks to stay ahead of the curve. I have subscribed to Vogue Magazine since I was a teenager and it really is a source of go-to knowledge.
Passion and Adaptability: Cultivate a genuine passion for fashion and retail. The industry demands creativity, resilience, and adaptability. Embrace change, be open to learning new skills, and be willing to step out of your comfort zone. Develop a growth mindset and continuously seek opportunities for personal and professional development.
Remember, a career in fashion retail can take various paths – from design and merchandising to marketing and e-commerce. Explore different avenues, identify your strengths and interests, and pursue opportunities that align with your career goals. With dedication, a strong work ethic, and a love for the industry, you can forge a rewarding and fulfilling career in fashion retail.