By Dominique McIntee
Sophie Miller ‘18 began her summer days at 6 a.m. This Fashion Merchandising student ascended from the comforts of her idyllic bed and quaint suburban home in Nanuet, New York, and ventured via Tarrytown train into gritty New York City, a place that breathes fashion and often permeates a concoction of different odors.
When Miller was eight years old, she declared to her mom that she would only wear dresses to school; and for three years, she kept her promise. Thirteen years later, visitors will be greeted by a room straight out of Pinterest when they enter her apartment. Strategically, she designed a cohesive theme that can be seen from her bedding, to something as benign as bathroom carpeting. Miller has a distinct creative vision that’s been evolving since her earlier era when she wore dresses every day, one that helped her get an internship at LeSportSac, an American handbag, luggage, and accessories company.
“Originally, I found out about LeSportsac’s visual merchandising internship through an email sent out to the fashion department,” said Miller. She then researched about the company and its presence in the fashion world. From there, she sent her resume and cover letter, and was subsequently asked to come in for an interview with HR and Senior Visual Merchandiser, Victoria Milliken. One thing led to another and soon, Miller found herself commuting three times a week, working 9-5 on Broadway.
Miller’s first day certainly differed from her former pre-internship life. Last summer, she worked long retail shifts at Victoria’s Secret in her local mall. During her free-time, she would hang out with friends, eat at Art Cafe in Nyack, go to the beach, and enjoy typical freedoms that college students embrace come summer time. However, Miller traded these freedoms for city-life and, with that, city-work and innovation. She remembers her first day as overwhelming, but notes that she quickly became adaptable.
“My first day was definitely overwhelming,” shared Miller, “but after getting through my nerves I was able to complete the projects given to me on the first day. It is always hard starting at a new company after learning the right way to do things it all became second nature by the end of the summer.”
Miller soon became a core member of the LeSportSac team. She worked closely with her department, and had a quick grasp on responsibilities she was given. She lived on Photoshop, bringing her proliferating ideas to life. As days passed, Miller took on more challenging projects, and became immersed in the ins and outs of visual merchandising. Her biggest project involved setting up the showroom for New York City’s Market Week, an experience you simply cannot learn in the classroom. She recounted this experience as dynamic and exciting, as well as rewarding in regards to honing her skills fit for employment opportunities.
“I helped to take down all the old displays, think of options for the new displays, and help make the new ideas come to life,” explained Miller. “Being apart of this process from start to finished allowed me to see the importance of all the work I was doing.”
But as most interns know, bad days are bound to happen, most due to mistakes. Everyone has been there. The anxiety, the dejection, and the nerves floating around post mistake, when you feel as though you’re not prepared for the transition into the real world. Nonetheless, messing up on tasks, forgetting certain parts, and general miscommunication, are failures essential for growth in the learning process. Miller proposes a solution to prevent repeat mistakes.
“Often my mistakes would come from a lack of understanding. To avoid this I would always make sure to ask questions if I was ever confused. By doing this I avoided making mistakes before they happened.”
Once a young girl with an undying obsession with dresses, today’s Sophie Miller has big plans. This internship in particular shaped her desire to seek a career in the fashion industry, and make her mark. She owed it to her visual merchandising experience at LeSportSac for solidifying the dream she’s always had. Miller hopes to begin working soon after graduation in May. But for now, she’s enjoying every bittersweet senior moment at Marist, and seeking every and any opportunity to build her portfolio.