Alumni Spotlight: Lily Miller

Fashion merchandising graduate lands job in family owned department store  

Lily Miller (B.S. '21, fashion merchandising) is a recent graduate who now works at a small, family owned department store in Elkhart, Indiana called Stephenson’s. The store showcases New York designers and fashions for everyday wear and includes a Bridal Salon and Men’s department. Miller’s main responsibilities center around strategic planning, buying, social media and marketing management, and customer acquisition and retention. “Depending on the day, my responsibilities can range from attending bridal shows to managing advertising budgets and calendars!” explained Miller.  

Lily Miller

One of her favorite aspects of her job is the variety of tasks that she is faced with every day. “I love that I am constantly getting to learn something new, and that each day brings its own unique projects and challenges,” she shared. She also really enjoys working in a small business where she gets to develop deeper relationships with the staff, clientele, and community. “Getting to see a customer’s journey and the impact of your business on the surrounding community is such a great reward,” said Miller. 

Many classes she took in the fashion merchandising program have proven to be very beneficial in her work. One that has been especially beneficial is “The Social and Psychological Aspects of Dress” course.

“Since some of my major roles include buying and demographic research, this study has proven to be useful to the work I do now,” she explained.

Along with the standard courses, she also appreciated the number of hands-on opportunities she was able to participate in, such as speaking with industry professionals at Career Week, setting up a Christmas display at the EPIC Center in Downtown Kalamazoo, and helping to produce a fashion show with MODA, Western’s primary fashion RSO. These helped her to get well acquainted with the industry before working full time, and introduced her to sectors of the industry that she had previously been unfamiliar with. 

Her advice to current and future students is to learn about and get experience in as many areas of the retail business as possible. “There are so many facets to the fashion industry that even if you know exactly what sector you want to work in, chances are you are going to need to know about (not to mention interact with) many other areas of the industry. Having a holistic view of the retail supply chain and all its influences is so helpful for setting yourself and your business up for future success,” she shared. She finds working in the fashion industry to incredibly rewarding and encourages students who may feel overwhelmed by the fashion industry to take in as many experiences as possible and make sure they enjoy it along the way!

For more information about majoring in Fashion Merchandising, please visit the Fashion Merchandising webpage.