Who am I? Do you ever wake up in the morning and ask yourself this question? I do, and sometimes I have to remind myself just how I got from there to here, especially when asked how I got into retail consultancy. The fact is I don't have a clear cut answer and I certainly didn't start out thinking this is what I want to be when I grow up! What I do know is that I love my job, I'm passionate about what I do and I realise it’s the combination of many things that have got me to where I am today. So if you're wondering, here's how it all began.
It all started back in the eighties after graduating in three dimensional design and landing my first job with a commercial interior design consultancy located above three floors of retail store in Rugby, Warwickshire. Within a few months of starting my new job I was literally thrown into the deep end. My boss was taken ill and being a relatively small company we all had to pull together. It wasn’t long before I was drawn into the retail side of the business and even though it was a steep learning curve and, there were many periods when I felt I didn’t know what I was doing, they were exciting times. Inevitably, the buying trips, business plans, design concepts and visual merchandising and marketing campaigns, coupled with my passion for good design and a flair for business led to me opening my own retail shops and design studio.
It was following the design and refurbishment of a collection of retail stores for a tourist attraction and a subsequent conversation with the managing director that set me off on another career path. I was asked if I could devise and deliver a visual merchandising workshop for the sales teams, so I did! I wanted the staff to understand the reasoning behind the practical aspects of visual merchandising and it soon became clear to me there was more to this than I first thought. I’d briefly studied psychology as part of my degree course but I needed to learn more about customer behaviour and how this impacts on design and the success of a business. Needless to say I read everything I could get my hands on, books, research papers and consumer data. The combination of this knowledge with my design skills had a big impact on future projects and it still does! Sharing this knowledge with other businesses and the people working in these environments has been a whole new skill set that has been both challenging and rewarding in equal measure. Today, I think these skills are more important than ever as technology continues to influence consumer behaviour and attitudes.
Looking back over twenty five years of working in this challenging but highly invigorating business, apart from the many design projects and development of my own successful retail business there have been creative training programmes for both business and higher education, product development resulting in new business opportunities, the creation of many innovative marketing campaigns, a few awards and the personal satisfaction that comes from helping businesses and individuals to achieve success.
Along the way there have been many highs and a few lows but the best bit has been working with the many businesses and people from very diverse backgrounds. Whether I’m project leader or freelancing as part of the team I know this not only strengthens my own skills but provides me with an opportunity to learn from others experience and share information that contributes to the success of other businesses and individuals alike.
Not quite the end...
Not quite the end...
All the best
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