Here at the Lala, we love exploring creative careers and expanding the horizons of our readers. We know that in the fashion industry it’s easy to get lost on the typical path: stylist, designer or buyer. But there are so many more careers and opportunities outside of the typical! In this new monthly feature, we’re talking to Lala ladies who have unconventional jobs in the fashion industry & how they became so successful. We hope these fashion industry insiders inspire you as much as they inspire us.
the Lala : Tell us about yourself and what you do for a living.
Molly Rammel : I graduated from Kent State University’s Fashion School in 2008 with a degree in Fashion Merchandising and a minor in Marketing. I also hold a Business Certificate as a Product Development Manager from FIT. I’m currently the Director of Product Development at Ellery Homestyles. Ellery Homestyles is a wholesale home textiles company that produces bedding, shower curtains, window curtains and throws.
the Lala : What do you enjoy most about having an unconventional job?
Molly Rammel : When people think fashion they don’t normally consider home fashion, but the business is very similar. Our designers travel the globe seeking the upcoming trends, we host buyers at market week and live and breathe tech packs and production timelines. My role drives process improvement, user support/training, high level business analysis and strategic planning across all platforms within the company. Which means at any given time I can be leading 20 + projects with more than 10 departments and four different offices around the globe. It’s chaotic, hectic and a challenge I truly enjoy.
the Lala : Can you tell us how you got your start in your career? What was your first job?
Molly Rammel : I wanted to be a CAD designer following graduation, so when I started to look for internships I spoke to my mentor and she mentioned she had a friend in New York City that was in need of some help and asked if I would be interested in interviewing. I’d never found New York City appealing, (although I’d never been there before) but I took the phone interview and was offered an internship as a CAD assistant. My future boss mentioned that they were swamped and I could do CAD work for them all summer long. It was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down even though it wasn’t an apparel company; it would give me experience on my resume that would give me the leg up when I graduated. So I moved to NYC for three months without ever stepping foot on the island of Manhattan before. Little did I know that leap would lead to the career that I have today!
the Lala : If you had to go back to college, what class(es) would you take now that you didn’t take the first time?
Molly Rammel : I would have taken Mandarin. I was considering it my senior year, but on the recommendation from a professor and due to my heavy course load I decided against it. A large portion of the industry business resides in China, I communicate with team members and vendors every day. Since graduation I’ve taken Mandarin classes at FIT and am considered at a conversational level in the language. However, I wish I would have done it earlier!
the Lala : Do you have a favorite college memory?
Molly Rammel : I’m going to sound totally nerdy here, but I loved my classroom experiences. Product Development was a game changer for me. It was then that I started to put together how the entire process worked from trend and design, to costing and logistics, tech, production, merchandising and sales. I had some great professors within the Fashion School who I hold in the highest regard for expecting the best and preparing us for the post-graduate life.
the Lala : What does your day-to-day look like?
Molly Rammel : My current title has evolved from a specific focus on design and product development to strategy and operations for the entire company. Over the last year I’ve taken on significant roles outside the design and product development department and expanded my focus to the areas of finance, IT/system technologies, demand planning and advanced warehouse solutions. A lot of my day is working on projects surrounding roles I’ve never played and things I’ve never done before. It’s all about not letting yourself be intimidated, asking the right questions and having determination.
the Lala : Do you have any advice for someone who doesn’t know what he or she wants to do upon graduation?
Molly Rammel : Internships are paramount. They help you recognize your strengths, your weaknesses and your likes and dislikes about the types of tasks you are geared toward and possible future employers. Ask yourself what your favorite classes were, why you enjoyed them and look to what you’re naturally good at. Consider if you feel as though you’d fit in amongst a corporate structure, mid-size company or start up. Open your mind to different types of companies – a wholesaler like Ellery, no one ever knows their name, but they recognize the brands we produce and the retailers we sell to.
Know that this first job won’t be your forever job – I was hired back full time as an Assistant Designer upon graduation, after two years in the design world I took an opening with the company as the Senior Product Development Coordinator. My boss had told me in passing about the position opening and the next day I asked to speak to her and my CEO. I walked into the office and told them I wanted to be considered for the position. After they got over the initial shock of me wanting to move out of design, I got the job and two years into that position was promoted into my role today. The morale of the story is this – don’t worry about deciding the perfect role for you on day one. You have every opportunity to develop your career as you move throughout your life and your experiences and passions shift. Also — never be afraid to ask! The worst they can do is say no.
Read the last Fashion Industry Insiders article here.