Canada Fashion Jobs – Youngerself

Things I’ve Learned Along the Way: What I Wish I Knew Before Starting My Career.

I can’t turn back time but I do often reflect on the past. I mean, it is what I do for a living…I analyze history, couple it with current research and make a conclusion for the future. I know it sounds cliche, but in life (as well as in buying) I learn mostly from my mistakes, not from my successes. Everyone has their own learning curve and everyone blossoms at different times and at different rates. Don’t get frustrated and stop comparing yourself to everyone else. You’ll get to where you should be eventually.

With my years in the fashion business, I have compiled a small list of key lessons that I’ve learned that I would advise my younger-self and to future job hunters:

1. Develop a thick skin. Yes, it’s easier said then done, to not take things personally, and trust me…this is something I am still trying to fine tune to this day. There will always be people out there that think they know more than you, that think they know what’s best for the business, or they possibly think they could do a better job than you. As a buyer I get criticized for everything I do, it comes with the territory. I have come to learn how to sift through the criticism; figuring out ones to take in for consideration and ones to take with a grain of salt.

2. Just say “NO”. It was a famous line that was used in the anti-drug campaign in the early 90’s. It should be applied generally through out your life. As a “sensitive, hate conflict, emotionally driven Pisces”, I have had tendencies in the past to want to please people all the time, completely ignoring my wants and needs. Don’t try to over commit, it just gets you into trouble at the end of the day. It is important that I meet all of my deadlines and say ‘no’ to others when I simply don’t have time. I am not sure where I got this quote from, but it’s one of my mottos for 2011, “When you get better, it gets better”, so just stay focused on the things you need to do for you first and say “no” to everything else.

3. Learn how to prioritize. This is something that continually needs adjusting and fine tuning, especially when you go from job to job (career to career). Once you get the lay of the land and you have all the tools that you need, prioritizing will get easier each time. As I mentioned before in my article “To Be a Fashion Buyer”, it’s a multi-tasking kind of job and there are a lot of deadlines therefore prioritizing is a must have skill. Understand how you work best, what parts of the day are most productive for you, make a list and go through what can be left for later. It’s great to be ambitious but be “realistic” with this list.

4. Accept the fact that you are not going to be right all the time. There is not a single person on this planet that knows absolutely everything – Remember that. Besides, no one likes a know-it-all (I know I don’t). It’s better than you acting like you know-it-all and then making a fool out of yourself and others later on. Accepting the fact that you may not be right about something can open doors for you and your peers in addition to having the potential to learn something.

5. Work in moderation and practice balance. There is always more work to be done, it seems to be the one thing that is constant, so in order to balance things out you need to ensure that you save “personal” time aside constantly as well. If you think about it, if work is the only good thing you have in your life, well it’s time to reassess your life. It’s tough enough that we have to juggle multiple projects in one day but also, relationships, kids, extra curricular activities and family. I travel a lot for my job so it’s very important to me that my personal life is well balanced. The second I get home it becomes about making time for me and my loved ones. I keep repeating to myself a phrase by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of “Eat,Pray, Love” – “Be realistic about what you can and cannot do in one day and one life”.

6. Be curious, be excessively curious. I’ve been fortunate and have been supplied with some decent training over the years, however I have also been thrown into a job with no life preserve. This is why it’s so important to be curious and to ask a lot of questions. You can do your job better when you understand it better. Question processes, question tasks, alway ask why things are done the way they are and if you get an answer like, “because it’s always been done this way…” it means there is room for improvement, it means there can be an opportunity for positive changes.

Hopefully, what I have mentioned here can be stepping stones for you to reach a successful and balanced 2011.

By: Sunny Shum, Ladies Footwear Buyer for Sterling Shoes, Joneve and Gia & blogger for

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