Not the Kind Of Job I Was Looking For
August 6, 2012
By: Michaella Kossakowska
My experience with working at one of the world’s most famous American brands was not long; I always planned for it to be a summer job. With a three month summer holiday, I thought it would be a perfect time to be working in the trenches of such a brand, but I was obviously mistaken. The job just wasn’t for me.
It took four job offers for me to finally accept an interview with the retail store, which eventually led to an orientation and then my first day at work. I’ll be honest, I’d never walked into one of the stores that were part of the brand nor did I ever own any items of clothing from it. I never even fit the specific look that the brand so hungry hangs on to, which is why they would rather have me style than model for the store. Even though for the four times they scouted me, they scouted me as a model.
So what exactly was it that I would do as a stylist for this specific brand? Spritzing the clothes with the brand’s trademark scent, making sure the models were dressed appropriately, making sure the mannequins were in order, spritzing, checking the lighting, ironing and steaming clothes, oh and more spritzing. Often I felt like I was babysitting a majority of the people I was working with and working for. When one becomes well aware of the brand, one realizes the self-established hierarchy in the work place; obviously first comes the managers as they are the ones in charge, they know what they are doing and they did hire you, and then come the models, for reasons of appearance above everything else, because in reality they just stand there and look pretty, they make you feel inferior by being quoted as “the face of the brand.” And then comes everyone else, oh and lets not forget the ones that come at the bottom of the hierarchy, well to be honest you only see those employees at night, when the store is closed. This hierarchy proves the superficiality associated with such a specific brand.
In all honesty, there are two types of people that work for this brand: those who love it because they fit in with the whole look and stereotype or those who resent it, are doing it because of the money and the fact that they need a job during a bad economy. I was definitely the latter. However, pay unless you were 21 or a main model was minimum wage and my work hours were usually four to five hours- in conclusion I was being paid almost nothing and half of it was used to cover my transport to travel to central London.
Now, I’m not trying to be whiney in the slightest, I was more than capable at my job, I did everything I had to and usually much quicker than my fellow employees. I could easily deal with the poor attitude some individuals displayed in the work place (I don’t allow people to walk all over me). Several people actually became friends of mine, making the work much more enjoyable due to the conversations and jokes held in the workroom.
Many people say if you can’t last one retail job, then retail isn’t for you, however working for this brand isn’t like any other retail job- it is its own unique system. Other famous high street brands don’t have that kind of hierarchy you see in the specific brand I was working for, and there is definitely a more approachable work environment. The environment at the retail store I worked at often seemed hostile- among managers and employees a like. Fair enough, any work environment can seem like that and there are bad days, you just need to suck it up and deal with it. Yet when it becomes an issue that is complained in the backroom of the store among employees daily and when you are picking up the slack of others on the floor, people who don’t even share the same ‘hierarchical’ treatment as you or have the same job (ie: impact/model), and you do their job better in half the time they can, then you know it’s time to leave and look for work elsewhere.
Working for this brand just wasn’t for me. It didn’t make me a jaded individual (for I already am) that couldn’t have fun at the store, seeing that there were days that I actually did have a good laugh. In the end I just felt as if I was babysitting individuals that didn’t know their own jean size or how to fold shirts, plus the clothes left a lot to be desired for in my opinion so I never really took advantage of my employee discount. I will gladly work in retail again, just not with this brand again, knowing that it will be a completely different experience. I’m just not cut out for the kind of experience they promote, end of.
(images from: blingossip.com, cutcaster.com, gulfnews.com, and envato.com)