From inspiration to advice, in the G&M Meets column, we chat with the voices of the industry, and this time, we were lucky enough to meet Giulia Perdoncin – a true Fashion professional who brings an inspiring amount of passion and joy with her to anywhere she goes. Driven by curiosity and ambition for both personal improvement and professional self-growth as a Merchandiser, Giulia has an impressive list of brands like Ralph Lauren, Gucci and Christian Louboutin as part of her work experience. With a lot of encouraging advice up her sleeve, find out how she discovered the perfect job to play an active role in the Fashion industry.
Do you remember your first contact with Fashion? What attracted you to begin a career in this field?
I’ve always seen Fashion as a way to express ourselves, to communicate our daily emotions, to play different roles depending on what we wear. Through our decisions, we can make ourself look different and unique: Fashion offers us the amazing opportunity to stand out among the crowd and find our space in the world.
Since I was a child, I’ve always promoted “self expression” as a vital pillar to create the best version of ourselves and to be an example for others.
I am an extremely curious person and as soon as I started to travel the world, visit many different cities and meet lots of people, I realized that Fashion is communication, creativity, art, emotions, and, last but not least, it is something that makes people feel better. From that moment I decided that I wanted to play an active role in the Fashion world.
In my case, you can completely remove “normal” and “routine” from the job description.
Was Merchandising something you have always wanted to do?
Not at all. At the very beginning, I didn’t have a clue of what I wanted to do. I just knew that I wanted to find a job where I could express all my skills, become a great contributor, achieve meaningful results and, most importantly, have fun.
I started my Fashion career in Diesel, where I had the fantastic opportunity to discover the world of e-commerce, and above all, I was able to see the inside structure and organization of a big international company.
The “turning point“ of my career came when I met a lot of inspiring professionals who shared their stories about their jobs and lifestyles.
I realized that I am a very creative person but I also love playing with numbers and I have a strong inclination towards the strategic/analytic aspect of the business. This meant, a Merchandising/Buying role matched my profile perfectly.
At first, I focused on visual merchandising but then I understood that a hundred percent creative position was not fulfilling enough for me. That was when I decided to take on a “hybrid” role that combined creativity and numbers, and that’s why I love it so much.
You have an impressive list of influential companies in your work experience. Ralph Lauren, Gucci, Christian Louboutin – how did you sustain momentum in your career ambitions?
I am very ambitious, always looking for development opportunities and challenges to grow as a professional and as a human being.
I must say that the experience in Ralph Lauren gave the most momentum to my career and I will always be grateful to every single person I had the privilege to meet and work with. I could not have found a better work environment, it was something unique. You truly feel as a part of the company when your team and your boss trust you. What’s more, if you know that your contribution is valued, you feel more comfortable in taking risks and pushing boundaries of the “we’ve always done in this way” mindset – and in the end, this is the only way to achieve incredible results.
I believe that for someone, who wants to establish a successful career, persistence and determination are the key pillars to be built and preserved. Things change frequently and sometimes they change in a way we don’t want nor expect them to. However, if we stay focused on our goal and keep working hard for it, then when the time is right, we will achieve what we want, and the satisfaction will be enormous. (One of my favourite japanese mantra is “Fall down sevent times, Stand up eight”).
From start to finish, tell us what a normal day for you as Visual & Merchandising Manager looks like.
In my case, you can completely remove “normal” and “routine” from the job description.
Each day is different, mostly because my role is being a primary liaison between the Corporate and the Regions. This means that I frequently need to visit each store in the EU in order to collect quantitative/qualitative feedback about product/global presentation/customer’s reaction and then develop new merchandising plans with the aim to increase profitability of each POS.
I am the referent for the retail management, analysis of the sales/KPI/forecasts, creation of visual plans, guidelines and training of the store teams; we also work together with the buying team to define the product assortment, delivery plan, stock control and transfers for each store.
In addition, I work hand on hand with the marketing team for product launches and organization of events and trunk shows.
Travelling is one of my biggest passions so I really enjoy spending time in various countries and work together with different teams; this is also a great way to gain solid knowledge about each market in order to be able to offer tailor-made support.
What has been the most exciting challenge in your Fashion career so far? What did you learn from it?
For me, one of the most exciting daily challenges is to find the “best compromise” between commercial requirements and image needs. Fashion is about aesthetics, shapes, colors, materials, atmospheres, but at the same time, it is also about sales forecasts, budgets, targets, profits. You need to remember that the commercial part has exactly the same importance as the brand image.
I believe that in order to make a good decision, it is crucial to put together as many qualitative and quantitative feedbacks as possible, meanwhile being conscious of the market trends and the “big picture“ the company has set.
Instant gratification is not at all part of the process of building a great career – to be truly successful, you have to be willing to work hard and never, NEVER give up. Satisfaction contains the word action.
Is there anything you would have wanted to do differently?
I have made a lot of mistakes during my life, but thanks to them, I have learned so much, so there are no regrets.
It is super important to learn from the past but there is no reason to focus on something that doesn’t exist anymore – we should be hundred per cent concentrated on the present because what we do now is creating our future, this is the moment that really counts!
What is it like to work in Switzerland and Italy, how are the fashion scenes different from each other?
In my opinion, it is the country of origin of the brand that makes the major difference, not the country where “your desk is located”.
I had the fantastic opportunity to work for an American, Italian and a French brand, and experience the different work cultures and management approaches. After meeting a lot of international people from all around the world, I understood how our cultural setting heavily influences the way we see and interpret everything. As a result, every company has their own way to run the business, with a different scale of values.
Understanding the differences between countries is crucial for someone who works in Fashion because the products, assortment, presentation and the brand’s communication have to be in line with the cultural environment, as well as the requests of the clients.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to turn their passion into career and get into the Fashion industry?
Instant gratification is not at all part of the process of building a great career – to be truly successful, you have to be willing to work hard and never, NEVER give up. Satisfaction contains the word action. Be open – with your mind, your heart and your eyes. Be hungry and curious. Stay true to yourself.
Lastly, but very importantly, enjoy the journey. Do not wait to realize that dream, to reach that position, to get that job, to meet that person, in order to be happy. Do not waste precious moments of your life. Live life to the fullest, every second of it.
What’s the last book you read and how did you like it?
“How to get from where you are to where you want to be” by Jack Canfield.
This book is a powerful injection of energy and a great tool to set your path for the realisation of your dreams; it brings you through the concepts of responsibility, action, vision and goal-setting, self esteem and the creation of the right mindset: regardless of what is your goal, this book is full of precious tips that can make the difference in your life and help you to achieve magical results.
Your favourite part of the day
The early morning. I love meditation and the early morning is the best moment for this: filling your soul with positive energy is a certain way to face each day with the right mind-set. I believe it’s very important to find some time only for yourself every single day, and thanks to these moments, we can improve exponentially the quality of our life and our mental/body health.
A quote to live by:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain