Stephanie, associate merchant by day and EXPRESS model by night (kidding, but come on, how gorgeous is she?!), recently married one of our great family friends. Their June wedding day was nothing less than perfect; You know a girl has good taste when The Conspiracy Band plays at her reception. I thought it would be great to feature Stephanie to highlight how she earned a role at one of the country's most recognizable and career-competitive clothing brands.
The Reference Club: What do you do and where do you live?
Stephanie Tersigni: I live in downtown Columbus in the Arena District, and currently work for EXPRESS as an Associate Merchant for their Women’s Outerwear!
TRC: And how did you end up in this role/industry?
Stephanie: I have had a passion for the fashion industry ever since I was old enough to have a job. I worked in retail as much as I could and got involved in many different aspects of the fashion world from modeling to designing and eventually merchandising, which is what I now do. I was fortunate enough to get an internship with EXPRESS and worked on their Women’s Denim team, and was offered a full-time job after I graduated from Miami.
TRC: I think it's great you started from the bottom working in retail. I'm sure that helped set you apart from other applicants without that experience. What does a typical work day look like for you?
Stephanie: Unfortunately, there is no typical day for me at the office. I could have my day totally planned out with my to-do list, and the second I open up my email I might have a handful of meetings pop up on my calendar, or find out about a problem with one of my coats in stores and have to deal with that, or pull a sales report on a style that is doing very well, or approve a handful of colors for our newest wool coat. Each day is so different from the next, but that’s what makes it exciting and never dull. The fashion world is constantly changing with new trends quickly surfacing and old trends dying one day to the next, so we constantly have to be on our feet ready to make the next move on our assortment!
TRC: If you weren't in your current role, what would you be doing?
Stephanie: I would be traveling the world taking pictures of everything I see.
TRC: I'm right there with you. What advice do you have for young professionals and college students interested in a career in fashion retail?
Stephanie: Learn as much as you can about retail through experiences. If you want to be in retail, you should work in a store for a bit, even if your end goal is to have a “desk job” at a corporate retail company. Learn how to manage a store, how to steam and fold clothing, how to hang certain garments, how to interact with customers, etc. Everything I learned from working in retail has helped me in my current role from understanding how people shop to how to handle certain garments. It has helped me in a lot of my buying decisions at work. I would also recommend getting involved with local fashion shows and small businesses, just to get another aspect of everything the fashion world has to offer. It could also open doors to new opportunities through networking.
TRC: What is your go-to happy hour restaurant or bar in Columbus?
Stephanie: I am a huge fan of Forno’s Kiwi Mule, and also frequent The Rossi and Bodega happy hours.
TRC: All about Bodega's $12 mule pitcher during happy hour. What did you study in college? Would you change anything about your college career, academically? (add/change major or minor, etc?)
Stephanie: I majored in Communication with a minor in Marketing, because at the time there was no fashion program at Miami. However, if I could go back today I would minor in one of the amazing fashion design programs that MUFD (Miami University Fashion Design) has recently helped put into place. I am proud to say that I was a member and a President of MUFD during my college days and worked hard to implement a fashion program!
TRC: That's such a cool legacy. What do you look forward to at the end of a long work day?
Stephanie: Either going out for dinner or staying in and watching one of many TV shows with my husband, Mark.
TRC: Fill in the blank: I’m most looking forward to eating "PUMPKIN PIE" on Thanksgiving.
TRC: Again, right there with you. Any quirky/interesting tips for young professionals?
Stephanie: Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want and think you deserve. Speak your mind and be heard!