Fashion Jobs – A Career in Fashion Retail: Lindsay Wilkins

Style Nine to Five - Fashion Jobs



Style Nine to Five connects employers and job seekers daily and hearing success stories is what inspires us! Today we’re featuring one of our own recruits Lindsay Wilkins, who has recently made a career move to Coach as the Field Visual Merchandise Manager for Western Canada. With more than 15 years of experience in the industry (most in a District Manager role for various retailers), she has also grown a successful style blog and personal shopping business, Mabelle Style. Lindsay chats with us about her career in retail and gives some insight on what it’s like to balance a full time career and still do what she loves on the side!


Style Nine to Five: Congratulations on joining Coach! How do you mix your own personal style while also meeting Coach’s corporate visual display standards? How do you put your own spin on company directives? Is that possible?


Lindsay Wilkins: With Coach having recently gone through some creative change, I feel my personal style works with the new direction more then ever. Stuart Vevers has brought a lot more edge to the brand, which I love (recent press). For example, moto leather jackets to pair with the luxury leather bags are staples in my current wardrobe. Discover the latest collection here.


SNTF: It seems like you have the best of both worlds. What advice would you give to someone who has a full time career but also wants to start blogging or pursue another passion on the side?


LW: I would first advise you work in a field that you generally love and have a personal passion and interest in. It isn’t work when you love what you do. Once you have found that career, a blog is only second nature because your sharing information you love and work with regularly.


SNTF: A lot of people think that a career in fashion only means becoming a Buyer or Designer. You have managed to grow a successful career in retail. Can you speak to that?

LW: When I decided to build a career in fashion after high school, I heard a lot about the stigma with retail – you can’t make money, you’re a dime a dozen, etc. It’s not just buying & designing, there are many more jobs in the field that include sales and operations, merchandising, styling, HR, and styling.

To succeed in any career you need to work hard and be vocal about your goals to get to the level you would strive for. There are so many positions and great opportunities with competitive wages that I just don’t think it’s talked about to the capacity that it should be. People aren’t aware of the growth and options within the industry.


SNTF: What do you love about a career in retail?


LW: Touching and working with the product, being in the know of all the upcoming trends and working with and building relationships with so many different types of people. And of course the discount!


SNTF: What would you say is the ‘key’ to a successful career in visual display?

LW: Being open to constant change, always learn and elevate yourself to be current with the trends and focus on the key items.


SNTF: What do you love most about having your hands within two different areas of the fashion industry?


LW: My personal styling business keeps me relevant in the fashion world as I’m always in the stores seeing what’s new, current and on-trend. While my visual merchandising work keeps me update-to-date with creative and innovative ideas in the retail field.


SNTF: Has there ever been a time that you thought you couldn’t balance both careers? How did you overcome that?


LW: I’ve always been able to balance because of one very important factor: being a business owner. When you own your own business you can be in full control of what you can take on and schedule without burning yourself out. Balance is a huge part of my life personally and professionally.


SNTF: What inspired you to start Mabelle Style?


LW: I exceeded expectations in my styling course during my fashion program at Blanche McDonald 13 yrs ago. When I graduated I thought I needed to do something with it. I began doing freelance work on the side while building my day job in visual. Doing freelance meant a lot of free work for photographers to build a portfolio and that was about it. I decided to make it a business officially and created a basic website 9 years ago (pre blogs). I built a business plan behind styling and what clients would look for when they source out a personal stylist, that was the mold of the business. 9 years later, I have a blog and a regular clientele list that keeps growing thanks to referrals, google search and social media!


SNTF: How do you continue to successfully grow Mabelle Style while balancing a full time career?


LW: Staying relevant in the industry is key with blogs and updating my clients looks. Also, building new relationships and being open to take on new challenges that could create positive exposure for the brand.


Photos by Christine Pienaar


By: Shania Brown

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