Banana Republic Empowers Styling Students
(L–R) Kati Brandt and Marlena Griffin of Banana Republic. Photo by Bob Toy.
Room 200 at Northpoint was buzzing with fashion forward students on Oct. 12 as Banana Republic’s Human Resource Manager Marlena Griffin and Assistant Manager of Women’s Product Kati Brandt came to talk to the styling and merchandising students of Academy of Art University about what it takes to work at the company’s flagship location here in San Francisco.
The presentation started out with an introduction of Griffin and Brandt. They jumped right into their company’s definition: “Global apparel and accessory brand focused on delivering contemporary classics, designed for today with style that endures.” Griffin spoke first on how important it is to her that Banana Republic builds leaders. That turned out to be the reason why Griffin started working at the company. “I like to help people develop a career, and become the strongest leader [they] can be,” she said.
Leaders are what this brand attracts. In a conversation before the presentation, Griffin and Brandt described their ideal Banana Republic candidate as confident, driven and tech savvy. Being up to date with the latest innovations of the times and being connected to your personal and professional growth are qualities that will send you up the Banana Republic ladder. Having a strong social media presence and love for updating daily is always a perk for the Banana Republic team. You should also be very social. “The ability to be adaptable and collaborative are really the things students should be focusing on in their studies,” said Griffin. Collaboration is a huge part of the Banana Republic environment. Between looking at window layouts, concept books and styling guides, there are a lot of decisions to be made and ideas to be put together.
Both women ensured that it’s a healthy environment for their employees to grow and develop in the company. This is the route Brandt took to work her way up the ladder. She started as a sales associate in Iowa. “I couldn’t work for a company that [I] couldn’t wear the clothes from,” she shared.
This lead into a conversation about being what you sell. It’s essential to your success in the company to have the qualities of the Banana Republic woman or man. “We expect others who are in the brand to live the brand platform as we do,” stated Griffin. If you don’t believe in a brand’s philosophy, it will be hard to keep the required drive and confidence.
They spoke about a day in the life of a Banana Republic stylist. Every task requires independence when using provided creative materials and being able to adapt to change quickly. If you are scheduled for “roll-outs” (unpacking the new merchandise coming in) you have to sort and prepare all of the incoming merchandise.
(L–R) Flagship Human Resources Manager Marlena Griffin and Assistant Manager of Product Kati Brandt speak to three fashion classes about the opportunities available at Banana Republic. Photo by Bob Toy.
This includes all of the minor details that make a difference. Steaming, creating the appropriate themes in the windows so that customers will easily take in the theme and message upon seeing the display. You may be scheduled for this at any time of the day, even at one in the morning.
When the store opens, your first priority is to get the icons and “Henry Hangers” in order. Icons are main displays in the store that the customers will see most often. Henry Hangers are the top half of the mannequin that hangs on the side of racks. Brushing up on styling tasks and upkeep of the displays is an all-day task.
In both opening and closing, stylists help the Talent Team with customers. In the evening, you reset the Henry Hangers from any customer damage or dress them in their new look for the next day. Closing is also the time to add, maintain or subtract any detail you wish on mannequins and displays.
Fashion students learn about the unique work culture at Banana Republic. Photo by Bob Toy.
An opportunity like this allows students to get their foot in the door and to make some extra money. Hectic schedules, constantly running and being around people make up the backbone of this job. If your school schedule permits, definitely check out Banana Republic’s current opportunities. Griffin shared that listings can be found at jobs.bananarepublic.com. Make sure to enter the requisition number 185711 in the keyword search. This job and others within the Gap Inc. family are also listed at https://jobs.gapinc.com.