Fashion a career in merchandising

When Ms Ryna Choo started out as a receptionist at Bodynits 12 years ago, she longed to work with fashion designs rather than just man the phone.

“I used to sit at the reception desk and see merchandisers rush in and out, thinking they held very important jobs,” she said.

Less than a year later, her dream came true when the fitness garment manufacturer offered the O-level holder a position as an assistant fashion merchandiser.

Now 28, she has since been promoted to merchandiser with Bodynits.

She works with branded sports fashion labels such as Nike and adidas, choosing fabrics and colours for their designs.

Ms Choo is part of a growing pool of fashion merchandisers here, and the Workforce Development Agency (WDA) hopes to train more O-level holders to take up at least 100 such positions available in the industry.

The WDA, with the National Trades Union Congress, has launched a place-and-train programme – Fashion Merchandising Reskill-ing for Employment – to equip trainees with skills to be assistant merchandisers.

RynaChoo
Although she admits fashion merchandising can be “scary and stressful”, Ms Ryna Choo has returned to the job with Bodynits she left twice because she realises it is what she enjoys most.

The first six-week programme for about 20 trainees, which includes lessons and job attachments, will be conducted by the Textile and Fashion Federation (Singapore) next month.

Those selected will be guaranteed jobs after training. Monthly salaries for an assistant merchandiser start at $1,100 and can go as high as $5,000 for a merchandising manager.

However, Ms Choo cautioned against thinking it’s all glamour.

“I felt like giving up many times as it was scary and stressful,” she said, recallingi early experiences of mixing orders and rushing to meet deadlines.

Such pressures are why many quit after three to six months, added Bodynits production director Molly Tan.

Even Ms Choo, who earned a marketing diploma a few years ago, has left the job – twice.

The first time was to become a travel consultant, then a secretary in an engineering company; the second time, to work in a fashion buying house.

“I was exploring my options, but I realized merchandising was what I enjoyed most,” she said of her decision to return.

To register for a briefing session, call the WDA hotline on 6883-5885 or email wda_enquiry@wda.gov.sg by Thursday.

Source: As published in ST Newspaper words by Sue-Ann Chia