Student Life by Ellie Madden

Student Life by Ellie Madden image


Student Life by Ellie Madden, L4 Merchandising.

L4 Merchandising student Ellie Madden took her time to have a chat with us about her experience at the Fashion Retail Academy. We love hearing all about what our students enjoy, whether they chose the right course and how their overall experience has been.

We asked Ellie a few questions to see what she learnt during her time here, why she chose merchandising and what the best parts of the FRA were for her personally… She even told us where she is going when she graduates, it’s very exciting!

  1. What have you learnt on the L4 Merchandising Course?

During the one year course I learnt the basics and the skills needed to succeed in this particular career, for example; how to use excel and the tools that are used as a merchandiser, such as a forecast. Not only did we cover systems, analytics and reporting but we were also taught about the history of fashion and how fashion has evolved.

Specific to Merchandising we had detailed classes that taught how to become a merchandiser. The applied maths class was simple and taught by an extremely understanding and humorous maths teacher, who also taught us how to produce suitable CV’s to use when applying for our first merchandising roles. The tutors set up presentation classes to help boost our confidence during presentations and public speaking. We covered retail environments, this involved learning about customer attitudes and the key to a successful retailer by analysing brands such as Karen Millen, Next and T.K. Maxx. On the creative side we were lucky to have IT classes that allowed us to put together assignments which looked aesthetically pleasing when presenting.

  1. Why did you choose L4 Merchandising?

Originally, I wanted to apply for the L4 Buying course. Unfortunately, the course was full. At the time I was disappointed but I now feel as if this was meant to be… After speaking to buying students I realised that for me personally the better choice was merchandising. For those who are set on buying, merchandisers can transfer once in a business, and there is more demand for merchandisers!

Not only this but there is also more pressure on other courses, merchandising is all we are taught, and it is a career path that works so closely to all other roles in fashion houses. It sounds solely numerical based and slightly more tedious than anything else, however this is not the case. Merchandising is creative, you work closely with the garments in the work place and help plan a new collection for a store alongside the buyers. If I could go back, I wouldn’t apply for anything different!

  1. Why is studying at the FRA good?

The Fashion Retail Academy is extremely exciting to attend and I am so grateful that I was accepted last year. Not only is it situated in a central and trendy part of London, but it is completely fashion based! It’s great and everyone feels free to express themselves when at the college! As everyone dresses differently, the freedom to express yourself make it more relaxing to mix with people and make new friends.

The teachers are extremely helpful and although they expect you to be more independent in your studies, you can always confide in them… It is very helpful being taught by tutors who are industry experienced.

  1. What did you enjoy most about the FRA?

I enjoyed everything about the academy, first of all the location, after college or during your lunch break you are in the heart of London and are free to go shopping or explore the city due to the central location of it.

Secondly, it was nowhere near as stressful as I thought it would be, I came straight from A levels which was extremely stressful. However, the course is sensibly planned out so that all assignments and units are spread throughout the year to minimize stress; on top of this the merchandising course is purely coursework based - which means no exams!

  1. What is the best thing the FRA offered you and did you visit anything that you enjoyed?

The best thing that the college offers, in my opinion is the amazing 3 week work placement opportunity. The Fashion Retail Academy set up work experience for everyone; I myself went to Topshop’s head office, and after this experience not only was I more confident in my studies, but I understood the course more!

We went on various trips, my favourite one was a fashion history exhibition in South Kensington! However, we also visited a Chanel exhibition in Barbican which was surreal to visit. We also went on a lot of store visits, in class we would be asked quite frequently to visit stores on oxford street in order to help us with our work, whether it be a comparison of stores also known as a ‘competitor shop’ or for assignment purposes.

  1. What is your plan after leaving the FRA?

Because of my work experience at Topshop, and the 6-week CV workshop we had, I was offered Merchandising jobs almost straight after handing them out to fashion houses; I am now waiting to start my first full time job at River Islands head office as a Merchandising Admin Assistant!