published Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Working It: Diversity of customers enlivens fashion store routine

Name: Suzanne Bishop West

Position: Owner

Location: Frankie & Julian’s

First job: Sales clerk at J.Peterman store at Warehouse Row

Favorite part of the job: “The buying trips to get to see what’s upcoming for the next season because we buy way ahead of time. In September, I went to market but we were actually buying for next spring. And I love working with my customers. I always have fun putting outfits together. That kind of goes hand in hand with merchandising the store, kind of getting that great outfit together. It makes you feel good, especially when they say, ‘I never would have thought that would look good on me.’”

Least favorite part of the job: “Cleaning and straightening the store. When it’s done I’m happy, but the vacuuming, the dusting — I’m very particular about the hangers. I’m very particular about the store. We don’t have a cleaning lady, so me and the girls in the store, we do it ourselves. Nobody wants to do that.”

What they learn: “Working with all different kinds of customers, it’s interesting how you can apply that to talking and having conversations with all different backgrounds. I find that a very interesting part of the job. People don’t think Chattanooga is all that diverse, but it really is in a lot of ways. You have to give someone a chance before you make a judgment.”

How to make a career of it: She has what she calls a strange background. She graduated from University of Miami with a background in communications and Spanish. She went to Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and majored in fashion merchandising management, then worked for a fashion designer. “I always loved fashion, but I never really thought of it as an actual career until my junior year [of college].”

about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

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