Meet Joanna Chaffin - Buying Associate for Mine and Yours
Since our inception, we have worked closely with Style Nine to Five, Canada's premier fashion jobs website to source the best talent in the fashion industry.
Back in January, our very own Buying Associate Joanna Chaffin wrote this first-hand account of her experience starting out with us on Style Nine to Five's blog.
Mine & Yours Buying Associate, Joanna Chaffin
After hearing from countless people, articles and general society that coming out of University, my search for a job would be at the very least difficult– I couldn’t help but feel a little depleted. So here I was, a recent graduate from UBC with an Arts degree in Art History and a minor in Political Science, searching. I always knew that I wanted to work in fashion in some capacity. As cliché as it may sound, I just sort of knew from a very early age that I needed to be surrounded by it. I heard about Style Nine to Five from a cousin who had also been searching for a job in Vancouver a few months prior. What I loved about it was that it specifically showcased the fashion industry, a comprehensive and narrowed search that was incredibly easy to use.Naturally, that ‘s where my search began.
My plan of action was to apply for at least one job everyday. Any posting that sounded challenging, exciting and within some stretch of what I wanted to do soon, received my resume and cover letter. After close to a month of applying to countless positions that were always coming up on the site, I received an email asking me to come for an interview. It was for an internship position at a start-up clothing store that had the potential to turn into a full position once the store was launched. As a recent graduate with internship experience I can’t say that another internship entirely thrilled me, but what did was the description of the position. It was an internship that would place me in the thick of a startup company, allowing my input in all things from store design to the curation of the store’s merchandise. I knew I wanted to work in fashion and buying was something that I especially felt interested in, so I went in to the interview generally keeping an open mind because I really had nothing to lose. At the interview, Jigme, the founder of the company which would soon come to be Mine & Yours, gave me a ‘buying scenario’ where I was asked to suggest brands and trends that I saw working well for the coming seasons – essentially, the most fun I’ve ever had at an interview and something that I felt really confident about. It seemed my days of pouring myself over Style.com and fashion blogs had all been for a practical purpose. About a week later I heard back from Jigme, offering me the position. I felt really excited about being in a role where I felt my eye, love of fashion and experience was all really appreciated.
What came from there was a summer of inventory collection and an immense amount of learning that came along with it. Jigme, Courtney, a partner who came on later in the summer, and I were figuring out how it was that you start a clothing store from the ground up. For our inventory collection, we hosted ‘Reverse Shopping Parties’ where we bought clothes from guests who left the party with extra cash in hand. We were getting our hands on amazing pieces that could be given new life in another closet that was completely different from the original owner’s, and that to me became really exciting to see. As the inventory grew and systems were being put in place and a physical storefront location was being finalized, I was learning more than I could have imagined, seeing a business start from a few pieces of clothing to what is now a full functioning buy, trade, sell, curated women’s boutique was an incredibly rewarding experience.
When the doors opened at the end of September, I became the first official employee of Mine & Yours under the title of ‘Buying Associate.’ What I love most about this job is the amount that I am able to learn on a daily basis and the fact that I could not be doing what I am doing anywhere else. Being able to have a substantial role in deciding what goes in to the store along with seeing the joy that fashion can bring to people has made all of challenges that went along with the process seem very well worth it. I feel like this entire experience has been successful because I went in to it with an open mind of what could happen. If there was any advice I could give anyone, though I don’t know how qualified I am for that, it would be to apply, apply, apply to everything and anything, and never say no to an interview because you close yourself off to an opportunity, no matter the size it may initially seem like.
Today, as the store grows and we begin taking on amazing pieces from designers and fashion houses such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Carven, and mixing them with TopShop, H&M, and Forever 21, a new energy is brought to the clothes. Seeing fashion be recycled like this, to me, brings consciousness to an industry of consumption, which seems like a great direction to take fashion today.