San Francisco State University - Bachelor of Science, Apparel Merchandising
At only 26 years old, Jennifer Conforti has an enviable title at an amazing fashion company. She's the vice president of operations for ISAAY.com, an online women's retail website (which features some killer brands). She has one goal as her career moves forward — to build isaay into a company that's a household name, so she can stay there until the day she retires. In her role, Jennifer wears many hats — buying merchandise, website development, photo shoots, marketing, and sometimes, because isaay is a small but growing company, you can find her in the warehouse receiving product and shipping orders. And she's proud to say she's one girl who has done it all! In addition, her job allows her the opportunity to travel all over the country. Within the last month alone, she's traveled to New York, Chicago, Boston, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, and says she's constantly pinching herself when she gets to sit with designers to discuss a collection's inspiration and meet with her vendors. In addition to fashion, Jennifer loves yoga, art projects and snowboarding.
Try to find something you can learn from everything you do.
How did you discover your current job?
I discovered my current job through a connection from my previous job.
What has been your path so far to get you where you are today?
I have always been a big fan of fashion and shopping. When I was younger I never wanted to wear what every other kid was wearing. I wanted to wear clothes that set me apart from everyone else.
When I was in college, I decided to major in apparel merchandising mainly because it sounded fun to me. I honestly didn’t know if I would actually end up with a job in the profession.
After two years of working as an assistant to a celebrity in the media industry I realized that I wanted to go back to fashion because it's what I love. It wasn’t long after I decided this that I met my current boss and ended up where I am today.
Was there any one situation that helped you along your way?
Even though being a personal assistant is a very different job than what I am doing now, it taught me so many skills that I use every day. It was my post-college education. Some of the things it taught me include:
-You can’t be too attached to plans. Life happens how it happens. Be ready to roll with it.
-It’s ok to make a mistake. We are more hard on ourselves when we make mistakes than anyone else is on us. We are human. Learn from your mistakes and move on. Don't dwell.
-Speak up. Don’t be afraid to share your opinion.
-Be a sponge. Try to find something you can learn from everything you do.
-Work hard. This is the most important thing I've learned. You have to earn your place in any profession by working hard to get there. There is no such thing as a free ride.
What is your typical day like? Does it ever change?
The only typical thing about my day is that there is no such thing as typical. In the last month alone I have visited our Web developers in Chicago, visited our partners in Boston, and have attended buying shows in New York, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. When I am not traveling, I am in my office doing everything from research and marketing, to building product on the website, styling photo shoots and even un-boxing and shelving new product. In a growing company you really have to be ready to do it all.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is talking to a happy customer. Our goal is to build a website that isn’t just for shopping but that will be a source of fashion information for women. I want women to come and shop and feel good about what they are buying, knowing it will make them feel good and that they will have a great customer experience.
What is the most challenging part?
The most challenging part of my job is getting everything done that I want to in a day. Every day I start with a list of things that I want to get accomplished, and I almost never get through it before it's time to start another day. In a startup company you have to be able to wear many different hats. It's so easy to get overwhelmed, but at the end of the day I just have to take a deep breath and focus on what is most important.
What is the biggest personal sacrifice you have to make because of your job?
Being on the road a lot can be very fun and exciting, but it also takes time away from your personal life. My friends are always texting me things like, “What city are you in today?” My friends and family are very important to me, so I wish I could spend more time with them.
What is one lesson you've learned in your job that sticks with you?
Don’t ever assume anything that you don’t know is the truth.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge for women today, particularly females in your industry?
I am lucky to be in a profession with many women leaders. For me personally, people stereotype me as a young, female who just likes to shop. I constantly have to prove that I am a lot more than that.
Who are your role models?
My parents are my role models. My dad always told me while I was growing up that there is so much opportunity -- you just have to go out and get it. They both taught me how to act in different situations through example, and to this day they encourage me in everything that I do.
Is there a quote or mantra that you live by?
I saw this once somewhere, and it has always stuck with me: "Courage, sacrifice, determination, commitment, toughness, heart, talent, guts. That's what little girls are made of; the heck with sugar and spice." -Bethany Hamilton
What advice do you have for girls who want to be in your industry?
Go for it! When I was in college my major was seen as an easy ticket to graduate and silly, especially in a school that was so politically driven. I have made a great career for myself out of it, so I am glad that I followed my instinct and pursued something I love.