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As IU senior Lauren Mulholland, a fashion merchandising major with minors in business and graphic design, explains it, “My dad always told me that if I did my homework and gave my all, then the rest is up to God.”
Mulholland has been doing her homework and giving her all, and by securing a summer internship with Urban Outfitters, the parent company of Anthropologie, a women’s apparel store headquartered in Philadelphia, she feels that she is definitely on the right track.
“When I went for the interview I was not expecting the competition to be so stiff,” Mulholland said. “Some of the other applicants were coming from prestigious fashion schools from all across the country and had never before heard of Immaculata. I firmly believe that the education and values that Immaculata and my supportive parents instilled in me is what gave me the strength and confidence to stand out among the others.”
Mulholland developed a passion for Anthropologie while studying the brand during a semester spent abroad at the London College of Fashion. “Anthropologie has such a unique feel,” she said. “Their visual displays are so incredible; you feel as though you’re on some sort of global retreat, and the merchandise has an eclectic, worldly feel—it looks like something you could never find anywhere else. The Urban Corporation promotes both creativity and individuality in a corporate environment, which is so rare to find.”
Mulholland’s fashion degree will equip her to handle the duties of the internship, which include buying apparel that will increase the profitability of the retailer and support corporate initiatives.
“What I find most interesting about buying,” said Mulholland, “is that buyers have to determine what customers will like before they even know they like it. They must really know the target customer and exactly what they like while still incorporating the trends of the season. The buyers are ultimately the ones who determine the profitability of the company.”
The travel involved in working as a buyer also appeals to Mulholland, who visited Paris, Italy, Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands during her semester in London. “If I hadn’t studied abroad,” she said, “I would not have been exposed to some incredible places.”
Mulholland’s independent and adventurous spirit was apparent very early on. “By the age of three I was dressing myself,” she said. “By the time I was in preschool my outfit choices had become so elaborate that I often made my mom late for work because I spent so much time perfecting my look. And I was always the queen of accessories.
“My mother told me that I inherited my sense of style from my great Aunt Mary who lived during the 1920s,” said Mulholland. “I only knew her when I was very young, but I recall her having such a glamorous essence whenever she entered a room. When she passed, she left me rhinestone jewelry that she had made herself, vintage accessories and, of course, that sense of style.”
As a child, Mulholland was involved in dance and theater, but admitted that as much as she enjoyed performing, what she really loved were the costumes. “My favorite part of each show was getting to wear and see all of the different costumes,” she said. “I was drawn to different colors, textures and fabrics, and I found it fascinating how much of an impact the costumes made on the performance.”
Though Mulholland is “more into the business aspect of fashion” than sewing or designing, her trained and discriminating eye can zero in on what makes a clothing line popular. “One of my favorite designers is Jason Wu,” she said. “He uses clean, classic lines when creating his elegant garments, and his collections flow so cohesively down the runway.”
Stella McCartney is another of Mulholland’s favorites. “She uses fun prints, interesting silhouettes, and always evokes a feminine feel.”
Mulholland now looks forward to bringing all of her native fashion sensibilities, education and skills to bear on her exciting life beyond graduation. “I have been taught the importance of hard work and dedication,” she said. “When I interned at an Anthropologie store prior to applying for the buying internship, I showed up early, stayed late, and gave my all to any assignment I was given.”
Her advice to any fashion merchandising major is simple and straightforward: “Be open to different aspects of the industry until you find the right fit. Take advantage of any opportunity to work with industry professionals, and if you can study abroad, do it. Even though you may hit some speed bumps along the way, never lose sight of your goals.”