Meet Jessica our latest 6-week fashion conversion success story

FRA Postgrad Student


Jessica joined the FRA with a degree in Biomedical Sciences and bags of determination to secure her dream first fashion head office role. Having an analytical and numerical skill set she excelled in her merchandising classes and is now an Allocator at River Island. Below Jessica tells us about her course journey.

I knew I wanted to work in the fashion industry a few years ago, but with a science degree, I didn’t have the right skills to get into the industry. I was searching for courses in buying and merchandising and discovered the 6-week Fashion Conversion Course at the Fashion Retail Academy. It really stood out to me as they are partnered with some of the biggest brands so a few days later I decided to enrol onto the course.

I was really nervous but also excited for the first day. It was really interesting and the 12 of us studying the course got along so well. Our tutors were great and really interactive, I love that they have all previously worked in the fashion industry, especially in buying and merchandising so that they can pass on their specialist tips and experience. We had one-to-one tutorials with our course tutor so that we could get more feedback and help on anything we wanted.

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During the six weeks, our lessons included creating mood boards, range planning, visual merchandising, PR & marketing, retail management and personal development, which was really insightful to help us plan our career. We had some assignments to complete including presentations and essays, which I found really useful because it gave me a deeper insight into what the industry is all about.

We had the opportunity to visit the head offices of Lipsy, Debenhams, ASOS, River Island, Fenwick and Diesel. We also went to visit a factory, which was a different experience, and some presentations from the recruitment team at Arcadia, Zalando, Harrods and WGSN. I really enjoyed the visits as this enabled us to make some contacts and gain a deeper understanding of the different roles and generally what happens in the different companies. 

The tutors went through the specific roles and different career paths we could take, some of the examples included a Buyer, Merchandiser, Marketer, Garment Technologist and Visual Merchandiser. The course enabled me to make a decision on which route I wanted to take my career in, and I chose to do merchandising, as I felt that I had more of the specific skills that matched the role. I started to apply for entry level merchandising jobs in my third week – I would definitely recommend applying as early as possible, there is a lot of work to do with preparing for interviews and the assignments but it is definitely worth it! I got offered a job as an Allocator at River Island in the fourth week, which I was really happy about!

I couldn’t have done it without attending the course; I have learnt so many new skills and I have experienced so many amazing things, with the help of the really fabulous staff. Going on the course was the best decision ever, none of us wanted to leave by the end of it! I would really recommend the Fashion Retail Academy as they really want to help me succeed.

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