University of Wisconsin-Madison - Business
Jessica Krieberg Adler's work today is the clothing you'll buy next season. As the vice president of sales for retailer Alternative Apparel, Jessica's work ranges from collaborating with buyers and discussing profit margins with management to reviewing a new branding campaign or store shopping. But one of her favorite parts of the job? Watching the design process from start to finish, where color palettes and fabrics swatches turn into a shirt you see someone wearing on the street months later.
When it comes to career advice, Jessica is all about knowledge. She recommends internships and in-store sales experience. She champions finding a mentor to guide you. And she stresses that you should always be in an environment where you're continuing to grow and learn. "How can you be the best you and continue to evolve?" she asks. Well, read on for an example of someone who's doing exactly that.
Growth is important – don’t be stagnant. It’s boring!
How did you discover your current job?
I knew of Alternative since I’m always shopping the contemporary marketplace and I became a fan of the brand because I loved the fabrics. When my current boss left to join Alternative (he was my boss at my former job), I asked if there was an opportunity for me as well.
What is your typical day like? What types of things do you do in your job?
The best part about my job is that there’s no “typical” day. Every day is a new experience with challenges and rewards. Whether attending a meeting with buyers to merchandising an assortment, discussing margins and profitability with management, reviewing a new branding campaign with marketing, attending design reviews, or store shopping with my team, each day presents a new agenda.
What is the most rewarding part of your job? The most challenging?
Most rewarding is working with such passionate, talented individuals. I also love watching the design process from start to finish. It’s exciting to begin with a Design Kickoff meeting where you’re reviewing color palettes and fabrics swatches then months later, seeing the final line in stores for customers to purchase.
Challenging: changes in the economy and marketplace; trends are always evolving!
What is the biggest personal sacrifice you have to make because of your job?
I call it “the juggle” -- trying to balance work-life with an intense travel schedule.
What is one lesson you've learned in your job that sticks with you?
Know your audience! The customer is always right -- they make the final call as the end user.
Plus, it’s important to love what you do since you’ll spend so many hours at work – why not enjoy it?
What do you feel is the biggest challenge for women today, particularly females in your industry?
There’s a lot of perceived pressure to balance home/family life with a career. I want to give 110 percent to both, but in reality there aren’t enough hours in the day.
Who are your role models?
I’m fortunate to have a few mentors that I consistently meet with and learn from. They’ve been a strong sounding board throughout the stages of my career. My personal role model is probably my Grandma Ruth Mandel. She was a resilient, independent woman who inspired me at a young age. She faced many obstacles in her life but always approached them with a positive attitude and refused to give up without a fight.
What are some of the rules you live by?
“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change.” -Dr. Wayne Dyer
“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years.” -Abe Lincoln
What advice do you have for women who want to be in your industry?
Retail is an amazing career for an individual who’s passionate and energetic about fashion. It’s crucial to have sales experience at a retail store since that’s the backbone of the business. Internships are also very helpful. Product is important but it’s all about the numbers. Also, it never hurts to take a refresher class (e.g. Retail Math, etc.) and keep learning.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
My crystal ball has never been accurate so it’s hard to say. I always have a blue print foundation but life seems to take its own twists and turns which keeps things exciting. In the next five years, I hope I’m enjoying my family while continuing upward mobility in my career.
What are three things you love aside from your job?
Quality time and meaningful experiences with my husband (Michael), son (Jayden), family and friends.
Travel. I love meeting people all over the world and experiencing new cultures.
Shopping! Go figure.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Take risks. Knowledge is key -- always put yourself in environments where you can learn. If you stop learning, then it’s time to move on. Listen to best practices from colleagues, clients and mentors. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Read! Set goals and expectations -- for yourself and with others. How can you be the best you and continue to evolve? Growth is important -- don’t be stagnant. It’s boring!