Fran Smith will graduate this year from the University’s BA (Hons) Fashion Branding with Communication degree and has recently gained permanent employment as an E-Commerce assistant at Kilogarm, a retail platform where vintage and current fashion garments are sold by weight. During the course of her studies she has taken on a number of placements to further her skills in the field. Here she shares her experience.
Plunged into yet another lockdown in January of my third year, I was left without the structure and ‘sense of purpose’ which had been my lifeline throughout the pandemic. That’s when I applied for a three month E-Commerce internship at Lone Design Club. They are a sustainable online multi-retailer who showcase independent designers, as well as offering workshops and support to help individuals build their businesses. I had been a follower of the brand for some time, researching them extensively already for my project in the first term, so it felt like the perfect fit. Spending the previous summer interning with Olga Anderson, as a content writer, and Fashion Angel as a digital marketing intern, I wanted to expand my skills into e-commerce as well as directly inform my own project. I had seen just how competitive it was for graduates when I was looking for my first internships, so I was desperate to better myself and position myself as best as I possibly could for the daunting entrance into the industry just six months away.
Just two days later I was interviewed and got the role, I was ecstatic! Remotely joining the lovely team at Lone Design Club, I was welcomed and initially trained in simple web design, visual merchandising, copywriting and order fulfilment. Due to the nature of the business I was immediately exposed to a community of small independent businesses, liaising and understanding how they worked with Lone Design Club to champion the small and sustainable. This was a huge inspiration for my own project which focused on elevating young fashion designers, and it was immensely encouraging to see the success of the businesses involved.
My day to day tasks included processing orders, creating sales reports to feed back to the team in our meetings, helping with the onboarding process by putting new businesses on the site, creating designer pages for them, setting up inventory and copywriting product descriptions. I was also in charge of ensuring that all visual merchandising was kept fresh and interesting, with an appreciation for seasonality, price and current trends.
Balancing both my university studies with the internship which I did three days a week taught me how to better manage my time and work efficiently to get everything done without standards being compromised. It gave me the structure that I was looking for during the ‘final’ lockdown and acted as a source of motivation and inspiration for me and my project. I gained practical skills in fashion e-commerce which have been unequivocally useful in landing my current position as an E-Commerce assistant at Kilogarm UK. Not only did it give me these skills which boosted my employability, but it also made me more confident about leaving university and what my future in the workplace could possibly look like. Working as part of a team gave me the drive to do the best I could and gave me a heightened sense of responsibility and accountability which I did not have previously.
Writing this now I am so thankful that I didn’t shy away from the workload of completing an internship during my third year of university, as it is something that very nearly deterred me. Lone Design Club and the team gave me such a positive experience and set me up for work in the industry so that I could graduate with confidence in my future, as well as a reignited passion for sustainable clothing.
Find more of Fran's work on her website and Instagram.