Hi, I’m Marbles. We’ve kind of met before. You may remember me from the story about how I got this nickname… it takes place about four years ago…well, just in case, you can read that legendary tale here. I really love that story, but now I want to tell you more about me as a buyer/merchant (terms I use synonymously) so you can trust my expertise in a professional capacity. Not that it matters, but I’m not just some hobbyist with a sense of style and savoire faire. I’ve spent my entire career in the fashion and retail industry. Granted, that certainly doesn’t validate a person’s ability based on my [professional] experience. Nevertheless, it might at least provide some qualification to assure any skeptics that I actually do know what I’m talking about.
I started my career as Emily (teehee) in 2007 as a buyer for a small chain of Manhattan boutiques called Searle (founded in 1962). It was there; as I learned the core principles of buying and retailing, that I discovered my natural understanding of this business we call fashion, and where my innate taste-level and ability to select merchandise blossomed. It’s difficult not to sound like a braggart here as I describe my professional aptitude, but I trust that you, dear reader, will not misinterpret my assessments. I am not after all, responsible for the evaluations. I am only responsible for relaying them (Wink). Now…back to the story…
I had landed my first real, full-time, post-college job. I was still Emily, and was still years away from what would be the emergence of the Marbles persona. Actually, at that time, I had a few other nicknames.
(this is me on a market appointment at Rachel Comey’s office/studio in TriBeCa before she was discovered and became famous)
Michael, my direct supervisor at that time and now long-time mentor, dubbed me PG, which stood for ‘Pony Girl.’ I had come from a temp position at Ralph Lauren prior to joining the Searle buying team, so that’s the origin of Michael’s pet name for me. Get it…polo pony…the Ralph Lauren logo….
(this is Michael in the billiards room at SoHo House)
The two co-workers I had, that both physically and personality-wise could be compared to the stepsisters in Cinderella, nicknamed me, “Mini Me” because they thought I was merely a younger ‘mini’ version of Michael. They did not mean it as a compliment. I took it as one anyway.
Unlike Drizella and Anastasia, Michael and Mini Me were not ‘type A’ personalities (to use a term I despise). We were comfortable relying on our intuition, interpersonal skill, and charm. We were not particularly masterful at desk organization or memorization. At Searle, the buyers (Drizella and Anastasia included) were not encouraged to be highly numbers-focused anyway. We didn’t use much retail math (if any) to write our orders. We didn’t work from an Open-to-Buy. We did, however, look at our selling obsessively and microscopically.
(me sitting in Michael’s office. yup, that’s what i looked like at the start of my professional life)
Steve, the owner and founder, who is probably at least 100 years old by now, and came from the hard knocks of the old school garmentos, fostered a more intellectual approach to buying. He and his wife Alice did fancy themselves geniuses, after all. Alice would often brag about Steve’s IQ score, which was within the ‘genius’ stratus, even though none of us gave two shits since he was a turd of a human being, second only to her. And I mean really. Even if Steve had been a swell guy, who in his or her right mind knows his or her intelligence quotient, and who puts any stock in it even if he or she does have the number memorized?! I can’t even remember what the SATs were out of so there’s no way in hell I could brag about my score, which in case you’re wondering, was pretty darn good (hashtag humblebrag).
Despite being a company filled with complete assholes and nitwits, Searle was pretty amusing and a great place to learn how to be a real merchant. Michael made work fun, and Steve taught me how to buy. Steve took a shining to me right away, I think because of my then innocence, my world-famous sense of humor, and my appreciation of Gershwin (thanks Grandma and Grandpa!). Steve really was a great teacher. I’ll give him that. I think I always had the eye and intuition of a merchant, but being under Steve’s wing was what helped set those innate talents free. What does makes a great merchant, you may be asking yourself…? Well friends, you’ll have to wait for my next post to find out.