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The Life of a Visual Merchandiser

By Sofia Randazzo

Ever wondered what life is like working as a visual merchandiser? Brianna Maloney, a visual merchandiser at Basic Bee Boutique, is giving us the answers. Brianna is a Central Michigan FMD alum who graduated in 2021 with a Bachelor of Applied arts for fashion merchandising and entrepreneurship and is currently working as a visual merchandiser at Basic Bee Boutique in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Basic Bee Boutique is a small, black woman owned business that opened in Grand Rapids a few years ago. It provides unique accessories and women's apparel for all sizes.

S: What does your average day look like working as a visual merchandiser?
B: “I go into Basic Bee about 2 days a week since I also work as a fashion stylist for a bridal shop. What I usually do is I go to the back to figure out what new pieces have come in by checking the labels and unboxing the packages, as well as I redesign our layouts at least once a week to keep things fresh; I redress the mannequins, redesign our window displays as well as our tables.”

S: What do you consider the most important skills for the role of a visual merchandiser?
B: “I would say the most important skill to have been creativity. When it comes to creating window displays and dressing mannequins, you need to be able to come up with new ideas, how to properly style clothes and accessories, and how to fix the layouts to make it look more visually appealing.”

S: What are some common errors made by visual merchandisers?
B: “Sometimes, visual merchandisers tend to rush their work. Though we may be in a time crunch, it is better to have an appealing display rather than something that looks sloppy. Take time on displays because we do not want customers to see the flaws and think of the business as unprofessional.”

S: Which of your projects shows off your creativity the most?
B: Creating the holiday display was one big project that caused me to be super creative. I had to go to the craft store and pick up cotton, wrapping paper, fake snow, and other holiday related things and I got to put it all in one cohesive display. It was really fun wrapping presents and spreading out all the fake snow to make the store feel cozy.”

S: How do you use current trends to inspire your customers?
B: “I utilize social media. By staying on track with current trends, I use that information to be sure the trending pieces are on display to attract the customers.”
S: How do you ensure you do not exceed the provided budget?
B: “I try my best to buy more and spend less. I go to thrift stores to find display pieces and decorations, as well as go into the clearance section or find deals at craft stores.”

S: What are some things you avoid doing when creating a display?
B: “Anything that can cause a controversy. At Basic Bee, we do not want our displays to offend any of our customers.”

S: What do you consider when creating an eye-catching display?
B: I tend to use one statement piece like chunky jewelry or a pop of color rather than mixing patterns which may confuse the viewer. When it comes to dressing the mannequins, I usually dress two in more fancy attire and the other two in more casual attire to show the viewers we provide variety in our pieces.”

Visual merchandising is not just a fun job to have, but a skill to acquire. After talking to Brianna, we now know that the art of visual merchandising is more than just dressing a mannequin, it is the key to attracting customers, giving the business a good reputation, and better understanding the business’s philosophy.

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