THE LESSON: If you’re going to do a job, why not do it well?
The daughter of a successful retailer, my bucket list had only one item: Cover the fashion collections in Paris.
Blame my mom. I spent much of my youth in her luxury fashion boutiques, where I witnessed the power of display, packaging, elegance and a British accent.
Alas, despite having lived in England, I cannot mimic my mum’s speaking that so charmed everyone.
But the other skills and traits I absorbed have served me well—including when I worked in retail at Macy’s from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. during summers and holidays to pay for college.
As a floater, I toiled in almost every area. Soon customers would ask for me at the front door and I’d serve as their personal stylist, pulling complete head-to-toe looks from the various departments.
But the powers-that-be never assigned me to the candy department. It’s as if they knew I’d eat the merchandise.
On one occasion I drew what others considered the black bean: working in luggage, an area tucked away on the top floor next to appliances.
There I observed that the most expensive brand (Hartman) was not selling—at all.
I made it my mission to change that. First, I learned all about its quality and history—why it was worth buying.
Then I created a beautiful display of Hartman at the front of the department.
I told customers why the brand was the best value – and boom, Hartman was hot.
The day I gave notice after that first summer, I was working in the shoe department’s backroom.
“You’ve got a call!” another salesperson said.
“We can’t take personal calls,” I replied.
“This isn’t personal. Take it,” he said.
I did. Corporate (Macy’s) tried to convince me to stay as their luggage manager instead of going back to college. As if.
Maybe I should’ve negotiated to be candy department manager instead. Ha!
I was still going back to the university because I’d known since age 10 that I’d be a writer.
So I left my longing for the elusive sweet stuff of my dreams: the candy land at the store’s center. Each day I had seen it and craved to work with it.
That dream never was fulfilled. But journalism—the career I chose over baggage—has been the joy of my life. I even covered the fashion collections for a decade–including in Paris.
The thrill of chasing stories has triumphed over my shyness. I became a more daring person. I have no regrets.
P.S. Years later, I interviewed jewelry designer Alexis Bittar as we sat in folding chairs in a Neiman Marcus storeroom. Both of us felt at home–and customers couldn’t interrupt us.