In conversation with… Beth Poulter, Senior Visual Merchandising Associate at Astrid & Miyu
Coming from a non-creative background, she found a love for visual merchandising while studying with us, and knew she wanted to make that her career.
Our students put their questions to Beth on how to successfully land internships and for her top portfolio tips.
Beth graduated from BA (Hons) Fashion Communication and Promotion in 2018.
She discovered a love for visual merchandising through a live project in second year, designing a campaign for fashion retailer Jigsaw.
During her studies and after graduating, Beth sought out any industry experience she could find. She’s interned at Vivienne Westwood, Lulu Guinness, Jimmy Choo and Adidas, most unpaid for several months.
She also collaborated with fellow graduate Liv Harrould on a podcast, The Fashion Filter.
Our students ask Beth…
From a company perspective, are you concerned about the perceived demise of the high street?
We are a company that was born online. We started through Instagram, and I think we know we’re probably going to always sell more actual jewellery online – we are okay with that!
I think we just have to alter our shops so we don’t have dead stock out. In our Notting Hill shop, there’s actually a lot less space dedicated to shopping. It’s about being a bit clever about the products you’re selling and what you’re offering in that particular area.
We have to keep adapting and keep our ears to the ground on what’s happening in the retail world.
How did you make it work doing 5 months of unpaid internships, did you have a job while studying?
At NUA I worked as a Student Ambassador – I would’ve struggled managing a part time job on top of my studies (I know some of you can, so kudos to you!).
I was quite lucky and got a good student loan, so I didn’t actually need all of it. If I wanted to spend it I could have quite easily!
But I think it’s about keeping mindful of where you want to go, and try to save while at uni if you can. Even if it means, sadly, not going out!
It’s not easy, but if you want it enough, you make it work. I ate a lot of cereal in my internship during my second year!
"Keep your portfolio niche, tailor it to what you’re applying for. Don't show anything you're not really happy with!"
Where do you look for internships?
I found my internship with Vivienne Westwood on Fashion Workie, as well as my first job at Astrid & Miyu.
I found my Jimmy Choo internship on LinkedIn, and I could apply directly. Most fashion brands will put internship and job opportunities on both platforms.
Any tips for contacting brands for work experience/jobs?
Be specific about what you’re asking from them, make it clear what you want.
Your first port of call is to say hello and that you’ve seen they’re hiring for a position. Then go on to say this is something you’re really interested in and could you send over a portfolio.
Keep it short and snappy – don’t write an essay about why you love the industry, keep it direct.
If they’re not actively looking for interns or new staff, ask if they ever hire interns or where you can find opportunities with them listed online.
What do brands want to see in a portfolio?
Keep your portfolio as specific as you can and think about what skills are needed for that job, and what you have in your portfolio that demonstrates these skills.
So in my portfolio for visual merchandising I had window mockups. While at uni I tried to make sure that I did as many projects that included window mockups as I could.
Keep your portfolio niche, tailor it to what you’re applying for – 10 pages is fine. Don’t show anything you’re not really happy with or is relevant.
Top tip: export your portfolio as an interactive PDF and hyperlink your (professional) social media accounts/websites – make yourself quickly visible!