I always knew I wanted to work in the fashion industry, I grew up in a family business and my Mum was a fashion designer specialising in wedding and occasion wear design so I spent my childhood behind the counter learning the trade.

I moved to Dublin from Donegal in a mission to pursue my fashion buying career.

I began working in Brown Thomas for Ted Baker as a sales assistant; with a period back in Donegal working in H&M, then onto Portobello Institute to begin my studies. Soon after I was working in Dunnes Stores as Visual Merchandiser, and subsequently joined their buying team for Savida.

My college options started as early as my junior cert year. We got a career guidance test in school and I felt I didn’t exactly know what job I wanted to do or what I wanted to study. So I began using search engines for business and fashion and the main result showing was “fashion buyer”. The more I researched the role, the more I wanted to pursue it. So when it came to me making my decision on what to study I knew this was the direction I wanted to go.

Portobello Institute gave me exactly what I needed in order to achieve my goal.

For the duration of the course I commuted from Donegal every Wednesday for class, so it was tiring, but the course was so exciting and enjoyable that I looked forward to travelling to Dublin every week to study. For me, it really didn’t feel like study as everything is so practical and hands on. I spent some evenings practicing my excel skills (which I am now very glad I did as this is what I use every day in the buying office), and some making mood boards and range plans.

There was not one dull class and everything was always conveyed to us in a way which we could apply it in our future jobs.

Portobello Institute was great during my time there and always helped me work with my situation, obviously living in Donegal made it difficult for me to hand assignments in so they made arrangements to suit me. Mary, the tutor for the Visual Merchandising class gave me so many useful tips and tricks of the trade which I will never forget and used daily in my visual display manager role in Dunnes. Ann-Marie, our tutor for the Buying and Merchandising class, pushed me to be the best and always gave me excellent feedback and advice and still to this day keeps in touch and helps me any time I need her expertise.

Going into Buying or Merchandising requires a certain skillset and individuals need to learn the basics before entering that environment. The course gave me not only that but also a very clear view as to what to expect and how to manage the workload. The tutors taught buying and merchandising as a subject matter but also and importantly the way to use it in real life.  “What I felt has been the most beneficial is how I was prepped for a job.”

A lot of people think it’s very glamorous but the work is tough, the environment is fast and mentally you have to be prepared to work hard to see results, so knowing this before I started working in the office really helped paint the picture of what my new role would be like.

As I took on the role as Visual Merchandiser for Dunnes Stores with the goal of moving to the Buying Office eventually, I used the visual theory and skills I learnt in class almost every day. I could apply everything I learnt in class to my every day roles and created displays that I didn’t even think I could.

Currently, in my buying role, I now know that I would not have been able to do this job without learning what I had in Portobello Institute. My excel skills were minor before the course and I realised it was such a huge part of the course and the job I practiced until I got better.  I found the planning and the merchandising side of the course really beneficial because it helps me daily to recognise problems and plan ahead for the coming months. Right now we are buying for next spring while also working with autumn launches at the same time in stores, so it’s about thinking ahead, knowing what’s going on with your stock, knowing your prices and knowing how your customer is spending, its multitasking at its best!

I would highly recommend the Fashion Buying & Merchandising course at Portobello Institute to anyone who has ever thought of entering the fashion world or even getting an insight to how the industry works. It’s a great course designed to help you get the job that you want!
It’s about having the in-depth knowledge from doing the course that gives you extra edge of knowing how the whole buying process works, knowing the answers to the questions that you haven’t been asked yet, and thinking outside the box will get you to where you want to be.  Overall, I have learned and gained so much from this course, and two years on I am working in my chosen field of study so I think I can definitely say it is worth it.

For me Portobello Institute is about the one on one tutoring you receive, the small classes, invaluable knowledge of your tutors, all of which helped me in my journey to become a buyer.
Right now I am working in Dunnes Stores as a Buying Admin Assistant with more of an emphasis on merchandising. I hope to continue to advance towards a merchandiser role within the company.

By October, I will have a years experience in the buying office and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. My journey to becoming a buyer has taken plenty of twists and turns but ultimately I am doing what I am passionate about for a great company and I hope to continue that for a long time.  I love my job and I am very lucky to have an amazing team and Buyer, Patricia, who gave me my foot in the door. I am looking forward to the future progression Portobello Institute has moulded me for.

To start your dream journey in Fashion Buying come to our open evening, call 01 8920007 or email sarah.reardon@portobelloinstitute.ie for full course details.