Trends, Travel and Design in a Product Manager's Role

Career Focus
Tasha Deane, Product Manager at Fashion Import Ltd., shares her thoughts with MontrealFashionBizvie, on the tasks and responsibilities of someone in her position. She has been with the company since 2007 and at present manages 8 people in her team.

You’ve been to fashion school where you earned your degree in Design. How and why did you choose not to be a designer but a Product manager instead?
My position requires me to manage a product from the design phase to the point where we must analyse sales at the end of the season. As a product manager you are immersed in the entire process therefore you have a more complete understanding of how a product comes to life. There is a lot of effort behind every single line we offer. There is style and color selection, pricing, negotiations, product positioning, marketing and sales. I am very much involved in all the aspects when we create a new collection, which gives me an advantage. One day I hope to have my own handbag-accessory line so the experience I gain from being in this position will prepare me very well. I will know how to build a collection, market it and sell it!

Can you tell us briefly about the major responsibilities of your job? Which parts are the most fun and which ones are the most challenging?
The most exciting aspect of the job is trend research, product design, visiting showrooms, choosing the new collections, PR and travel. Work Hard, Party Hard!Sometimes I cannot believe I am working when I am in Soho buying samples and inspiration pieces for our upcoming collections. Seeing a collection come to life is extremely satisfying and definitely a major highlight of my job.
Managing over 30 brands is the most challenging because you have to keep track of previous seasons, the current season and the upcoming season. I have to have a very solid knowledge of features, prices, styles, collection names, colours offered and availability of every item we carry. Our products range from handbags, luggage to fashion and travel accessories, so there is a lot to cover. I have to know if a shipment is delayed, a color is cancelled, if there is a price increase, a new product on the market as well as what our competitors are doing.

What would a typical day be like for you? Do you get to travel and meet people outside your company on work assignments?
There is no typical day at Fashion Import! It all depends on what time of the season it is. My workload could involve development, researching, reviewing product, travelling or attending tradeshows, purchasing, working with stylists, doing brand features or communicating with our sales reps and suppliers. I love that I don’t feel the whole 9-5 routine; it keeps me energetic and happy that I found a job that I truly enjoy.
There is a lot of travel to NYC for market week, San Diego, Las Vegas, Toronto, Chicago for tradeshows. I am very lucky to be working with all different kinds of people. My role involves meeting and corresponding with presidents, CEOs, VPs, designers, sales and marketing teams, buyers, merchandisers, stylists, custom brokers, graphic artists and others. Also everyday I deal with my suppliers from the Orient, US and Europe.

If you were looking to hire for your team, what kind of person would you keep an eye out for?
It is essential for the individual to have a passion for fashion. I like to call it a sixth sense as it is a true understanding that fashion is not only an extremely substantial and profitable industry but it is a creative form of art. They must follow what is going on in the media, the industry as well as have a good sense of brands and the categories we work with. If they have a solid business mind then they will definitely stand out. This doesn’t mean years of experience but if they know how to deal with people, if they have contacts, organizational skills and the ability to bring new ideas to the table, then they would be an asset to any team.

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