“So What Exactly Do You Do For Free People?”

When people find out I work for Free People, I get a lot of questions about what I do!

outfit details here

I mean, it’s no surprise that when I tell someone I work for Free People, I usually get this sort of a response: “OMG THAT IS SO COOL, I LOVE THEIR STUFF.” And obviously, I love that. I work for an extremely well known brand that is typically in so many of our wardrobes. It’s pretty awesome. After over four years of working in menswear, I’m happy that I’m now with a brand I can really relate to. And wear. All the time. In case you missed that on Instagram😉

what’s my title?

My technical title is Wholesale Merchandiser. And I know that really means absolutely nothing to you. To give you a bit of background information, I work on our Wholesale team. This means that I’m only working with department stores, specialty stores (think small boutiques), and our international partners. My role is essentially to oversee daily communication and opportunities when it comes to product. The goal is to support our Sales team and ensure that we have what accounts want in their assortments…and enough of it.

what do i do every day?

This job is completely different from what I did at Perry Ellis. At Perry Ellis, I was MUCH more involved in the day to day design process. Now, my role begins when we’re about to launch a delivery (which is once a month – sometimes twice a month). This typically means that we’re ALWAYS busy. Much like most jobs, no two days are the same. So I’ll break it down pre, during, and post-delivery launch.

Before we launch a delivery: Over the weeks prior to launching a delivery, a few things happen. First, our wholesale team will meet with our Home Office in Philly to review upcoming deliveries – we call it Merch/Sales Review. Here we’ll identify what we think will be big styles for our wholesale accounts, what we like and don’t like, and what we think we have more opportunities for.

During a delivery launch: As we’re prepping to launch a delivery at what we call preshow, my team is responsible for making sure we are looking good on samples, that we have our linesheets ready to go, and everything is ready for Philly to come to our NY office. At preshow, we review style by style: how much we’re buying, any fit/detail updates, if we love it, if we don’t think we need it, do we want additional colors, etc. My main goal during this meeting is to take thorough notes of each style so that I have all of the information for our Sales team.

Immediately following delivery launch: I have a lot of things that need to get done after this meeting. I create our Sales linesheet, I make note of our top styles that we’d like accounts to 100% buy into, I set up a call with our international team and other showrooms (like in LA and Chicago) to review all of the updates made at preshow. I also make a book with any CADs or color cards that will be a useful selling tool for our Sales team during their appointments.

Following a delivery launch (days/weeks): My team is basically on call while Sales is in market. We usually sit in on these appointments so we can make sure we’re answering any product related questions (color questions, delivery date questions, etc.) My team is also responsible for making sure all of the preshow updates are being made and are available in our systems. After market is over, we then have a process that we take Sales projected buys from accounts, and we make sure we have enough inventory. We’ll them go back to Planning to see what timing will be like if we were to reorder certain pieces (hoping it stays within the delivery we launched originally). At this time, we also see if we can get out of styles if they didn’t get good reactions.

Of course, there are ONE MILLION other things I’m doing throughout the day on any given day.

do i love it

I definitely get this question a lot. I’ve been at Free People for almost a year, so I think I have a pretty good idea of what I’m doing. I think it was really beneficial for me to move to a new position and try something different. I’m way more numbers based in this position, whereas I was way more product based at my last position. I will say, I really do miss being super involved in the design process. BUT, now that I’m getting more comfortable in this role, I will say it’s growing on me. It’s nice to know that you’re helping hit numbers and making a difference in our business.

photos by allie provost

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  1. 5.12.20
    Grace said:

    Hi! I love every article you wrote about your work at the fashion industry, and I absolutely love the rebrand! One question, how do you think the role of data analytics is for merchandising- do you think it will get more complex with the use of statistical softwares / machine learning, or would you say to it won’t be adapted till many years later? Thank you so much! I am currently a business data analyst at a fintech firm but hoping to pivot into fashion as a merchandiser. Looking forward to reading more about your journey in fashion!

    • 5.13.20

      Hi Grace – would love to talk about this further! Shooting you an email 🙂