Post # 1
Can any bees in retail (especially cosmetics) tell me the realistic possibility of moving up the retail ladder from sales to store management to corporate? I worked in fashion retail while going to school and thought about majoring in fashion and cosmetics marketing in college, but majored in education instead and have been a teacher for the last bunch of years.
My husband and I recently moved and I’m “between careers” at the moment and I’m not thrilled with the idea of teaching anymore. I’d love to work in marketing or merchandising for a cosmetics company, but I don’t have the resume or background to apply directly to a corporate position. If I took a few years to work at a dept. store makeup counter or sephora and eventually moved into store management, is getting up to corporate a possibility, or is that looked at as two very different career paths?
Post # 3
@pomegranate17: Well I can tell you that I was in Merchandising, and started off in retail hoping to move up to corporate. While corporate positions do want you to have retail experience, I found that there was no smooth way to transition up from the store level to corporate. I interviewed at Anthropologie corporate when I graduated from school, but they didn’t have a merchandising position that was entry level, so they suggested I start out at retail level. I did that, and then got a call from them a few months later that a position opened up. I interviewed, but was basically told, “oh you have a job in our store, cool, you don’t need to work here then”. It was odd. So I got a year of retail experience, and then simply applied to other companies to move up to corporate. It ended up working out best that way, and I was able to get into Merchandising. I ended up leaving the field, because it honestly just does not pay well since retail is a business very dependent on the economy, and there’s only so much room for profit in product. I don’t know if any of that helps you, but that was my experience!
Post # 4
I used to be in corporate retail management. I found it was all about playing favorites, but they made it sound like it was all about “waiting and paying your dues”. There are so many freaking “mid-level”managers that have to give the OK! From my experience, what you need is to impress one really important person…and they will pass your name around.
I was moved up very quickly. Others I know who have just as much experience/skill as I do (some more, I won’t lie) are still stuck in the mud. It seriously makes no sense to me how they cherry pick the people to move forward.
Every corporation is different, and I know nothing about the cosmetic industry. I know some industries are based solely on the types of degrees/certs you hold and years of experience specific to that industry.
I’m a RN now, but I’m switching careers to be a teacher. I want to teach anatomy and physiology, health sciences, and nutrition. It’s kind of frustrating because I have to take a lot of classes to get licensed as a teacher in Virginia, but they’re all in my field and I could practically teach a few of them myself. I really wish there was a way for job experience to count as scholastic credits. Oh well. I know you didn’t want any of that extra information. Haha.
Post # 5
I’ve worked in a drug store cosmetics department for 5 years. This is my input to what I think you are asking. I’m 20 and am actually getting an education degree myself at the moment. My experience is there there is not much of a future in the cosmetics industry at a retail level and it’s nearly impossible to go up the ladder. My manager started at The Bay working counter for 7 years then she got the manager position at our drugstore, and she works insane hours and complains about the money she makes. Other managers I have had only earn around $30,000 a year, and once you’re a cosmetics manager, there really isn’t much higher to go. Another co-worker of mine has worked at drugstores and Mac, and he’s making $15 an hour tops wherever he goes and says the most he can ever hope to make in this line of work is $30-$40k. a year, if he becomes a manager and goes make-up on the side from his home. Moving to corporate is extremely rare, though it can be done, but likely when someone with cosmetics experience goes back to get a business degree and works really, really hard. Overall I agree it’s be beneficial if you had, as you said, a few years working at a department store counter before you can get anywhere. The job itself in cosmetics is a lot like car sales. I work on commission and we have a lot of goals, customers can be annoying and you sometimes have to push products you don’t necessary believe in for the sake of the company and sales goals, you are doing make-up on people’s faces in their personal bubble which can be fun or extremely unpleasant. It’s retail and it’s not an ideal environment and I make $12.50 an hour with commission comes to around $15 an hour. Maybe maybe maybe you can someday make 60k a year in cosmetics at a higher position but I think it’s pretty darn unlikely. Cosmetics and corporate are pretty different career paths. My drugstore manager has a psychology degree and he’s making around 60k and is at the highest position he will ever be, and even he will never get corporate. Overall it’s pretty hard to make the corporate jump I think, and if you do I think it’s more based on a business degree than cosmetics- the cosmetics part is easy to learn but the business aspect and knowledge is the hard stuff they want. At any rate, good luck! That’s just my experience.
Post # 6
@pomegranate17: I’ve worked retail for 10+ years. I think making the jump from retail to corporate is going to be very hard. Working your way up from entry-level retail to management is pretty easy. But, you generally have to switch companies. I was promoted several times, both internally and externally, but you really have to kiss the right (you know what). I would say it is probably easier getting your degree and starting at a corporate entry level position, and working your way up within the corporation. I worked at Lands’ End corp, and saw many people do this there. Good luck!
Post # 7
Thanks ladies, this is helpful!!
Post # 8
I started out in store management and eventually moved into corporate. There are many people in corporate who never worked a minute in a store, but they had business/marketing degrees. They also struggled due to that lack of experience.
Go ahead and apply for a retail job to see if you even like the industry. If you do, management positions open frequently so you can jump on that boat. After about a year of that, start applying for assistant buyer and replenishment specialist/allocator/inventory management jobs. Most retailers will take in candidates with some store experience and a degree at an entry level position in corporate.
I will warn you–retail is very low paying and the hours suck. Forget your evenings, weekends and holidays. Retail management is very different from being in the corporate office. I like the office MUCH better–more regular business hours but a lot of pressure and stress. Business acumen and a good knowledge of marketing and advertising are a must.
Cosmetics can be different. That career path is usually sales associate/counter manager/account manager and then onwards with the individual cosmetic companies or move to department manager with the retailer.
I don’t know where you are living, but if there aren’t a lot of retailers headquartered near you, this is path you might not want to go down unless you want to be a store manager.
PM me if you need more information. I’m happy to help!
Post # 9
I’m a marketing coordinator in the head office of a large fashion retailer (400+ stores). I am very fortunate since this is my very first job out of school, but my circumstances are different since I have double degrees (marketing & communications).
We always encourage promotion from within, and yes TECHNICALLY it’s possible to move from retail to corporate–though unlikely. Another great option is to work retail and go to night school to get a degree or professional diploma in marketing of fashion merchandising… but I know this is a big commitment… That being said, I think it may be easier/more effective to aim for a low-ranking job at head office (maybe not the department you want) and work your way up from within. Let me know if you have any other questions!
ETA: Another great way to prove yourself is to offer your services as part of an unpaid internship. Best case scenario, they realize that you’re capable and hire you (this happened with one of our graphic designers), worst case scenario, you have acquired valuable experience that will boost your resumé.