Why did you decide to attend the Fashion Program at Ryerson?
I attended the Fashion Program at Ryerson because it was important for me to obtain a degree. I had heard first hand that it offered the most well rounded program and I knew immediately that it was the first and only choice for me.
How did your academic experience at Ryerson help you with getting to where you are today? What led to your interest in pursuing Buying?
The greatest thing about the program at Ryerson is that it forces its students out of their comfort zone and enables them to obtain an appreciation for various specialties within the industry. Having been accepted for the Communications program it's no surprise that my strengths weren't in Design. Having said that, I wouldn't change having had the ability to explore Design fundamentals in first year because it allowed me to look at things much differently had I not been exposed to those teachings.
If you had to do it all over again, what would you change about your time here at Ryerson and why?
In all honesty I wouldn't change anything about my time at Ryerson. The program is extremely challenging and although it was difficult to balance internships and work with the demands of school, going through that level of stress has given me a calibre of work ethic that exceeds expectation in the industry.
What does a day in the life of Erin Kiona look like?
The greatest part about my role is that each day is truly different from the last. There is always a repetitive, or perhaps cyclical undertone to the job as far as what need to be done, but it is far from mundane by any means. As an example, Mondays are always spent doing a deep dive into the business with much of the day being spent analyzing sales from the past week. It's incredibly important to do this so as to be reactive to any shortfalls in sales and/or chase a specific sales trend. Outside of that a lot of time is spent responding to vendor emails and potential new partnerships but can easily involve model selection for an upcoming campaign, store visits or product knowledge training. When traveling, my schedule will become increasingly hectic and will vary from assorting new collections in Parisian showrooms to sitting front row of some the most recognized fashion houses in the world. My role is in constant flux which inevitably keeps me on my toes and it's this aspect that brings the most satisfaction.
What is your favorite part about your job?
My favourite part of the job is without a doubt the curation of my assortments. Given that my portfolio exists in a multi-branded space, it is critical to understand the role each brand plays. Ensuring that each maintains its own identity whilst complimenting one another is the most enjoyable but also critical to the department's success. It requires a lot of editing to be done and a strong understanding of one's target demographic so as to ensure the strongest assortment is selected and maintained.
Do you have an area of expertise you want to grow and learn about?
There are vary few positions that allow the purchase of everything from Stussy to Balmain and I'm extremely lucky to have been given the opportunity to manage such a unique and aesthetically volatile portfolio. Given this, there isn't necessarily a component that I want to develop at the moment as Im able to buy a range of commodities inclusive of footwear and accessories to lifestyle my clothing assortments. For me, my primary goal is to continue to build awareness for these concept spaces and ensure a long standing and successful future for the areas.
What is your favorite part about working in the Fashion industry?
My favourite part about working in the Fashion industry is the people and travel. Being able to collaborate with creative minds in environments that fuel such creativity is extremely rewarding.
What advice would you give a fashion student interested in Buying?
I would encourage anyone interested in buying to intern as much as possible and at a variety of different stores. Without retail experience it is difficult to become a good buyer as the fundamentals of the role are developed on the sales floor. Further, the role of buyer can vary substantially across different retail formats so it is necessary to understand the available options. A career is earned not gifted and I encourage any student interested in pursuing buying to question their understanding of the job and why they think they'd be good at it. Buying although rewarding, is an extremely demanding career and like anything; my best advice is to explore what you're good at doing and not necessarily what you love. If you're good at something you will naturally find a rewarding career because won't be in a constant search of validation. You'll be respected for the value you bring to the table and be able to use that as fuel to continuously improve your skill set.