Skylar Volz: Her Forecast is Bright
During high school, Skylar Volz ’22 studied voice, served as the conductor of the choir and the lead in musicals and participated in music-related classes and activities. However, after auditioning at several colleges, she changed her mind at the last moment—realizing that she did not want a career in music but would rather keep her musical passion as a hobby. Besides music, fashion was also something that Skylar had always loved…and something that she could turn into a career. Channeling her analytical mind-set and business acumen, Skylar researched fashion programs in the area and enrolled in Immaculata’s fashion merchandising major.
“What I love about the fashion program at Immaculata is that it has a really, really great business presence,” she says. She noted that most of the other local fashion degrees are more design oriented. “I very quickly feel in love with [the fashion merchandising program] my freshman year,” Skylar adds. She was surprised by the quantity and quality of opportunities for students to network and gain experience within the fashion industry.
She also really liked going to class. A 9 a.m. retail math class may not be everyone’s idea of a fun time, but Skylar loved it. She especially loved doing the data case studies; her own enthusiasm shocked her. In these classes, she could meld together fashion and business—for example, doing the math for a shipment of shoes or gloves.
“As a freshman, Skylar recognized that success in her career meant integrating creative and analytical thought,” states M.E. Jones, Ph.D., professor of mathematics and computing. “She dove into retail math with no fear and worked hard to understand the relationship between fashion and math.” Skylar gained additional skills by taking storytelling with data, introduction to data analytics and database classes.
Skylar explained that traditionally the duties of analysis and creativity within the fashion field are separate roles; it is uncommon for one person to be responsible for both. However, when Lina Castro, the director of the fashion merchandising program, discovered that Skylar had a talent—and a passion—for both, she urged her to jump at the opportunity to present herself as someone who had skills in two different areas.
Throughout her time at Immaculata, Skylar worked as a freelance model and also sought out internships so she could gain hands-on experience. She interned at several small shops, working on websites and social media, and she also worked for a small designer. She completed her first “official” internship at an interior design studio in West Chester, Pennsylvania, called Sharon Ryan Designs. During this internship, Skylar had the opportunity to work on purchase orders, buying and other skills that she had learned about in her classes.
However, when Skylar secured an internship at Malena’s Vintage Boutique in West Chester, she discovered another area of fashion that she loved. The boutique specializes in vintage clothing, shoes and jewelry from the early 1800s to 1970s. Skylar started her internship in the retail store.
“I was kind of expecting this to be a small boutique internship that would last a semester, and I would get a good experience working with a small business—but I am still there,” she adds with a smile. What Skylar did not know when she first started in 2020 was that Malena’s store is just a small portion of her larger business. After Skylar’s internship ended, she was offered a full-time job in Malena’s vintage showroom and warehouse, where she works closely with designers from such brands as Urban Outfitters and Free People to develop their vintage collections for the next several years. However, Skylar’s favorite aspect of her expanding role at Malena’s is working with clients such as HBO, Netflix and other entertainment companies to provide era-specific clothing, shoes and jewelry for their historical TV productions. The company has worked with costume designers for shows such as “Peaky Blinders” and the “Sex and the City” reboot.
“When I got here during my junior year, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” Skylar recalls. “But it has snowballed.” With the popularity of vintage clothing increasing and the focus on sustainable, affordable clothing, she is at the forefront of a movement that doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
Although she acknowledges that she is having the time of her life working at Malena’s, Skylar is also interested in gaining corporate experience and utilizing her financial skills. In the future, she would like to pursue a career as a buyer, where data analytics are invaluable in helping to predict future buying trends using a customer’s previous purchases, current trends and even politics. A specialized branch of buying is trend forecasting, which uses much of the same data, but forecasts future buying trends several years out.
“You can be wrong sometimes, but it is based off of analytical data—being able to draw relevant conclusions within that category,” she explains. “It’s pretty cool figuring out what is going to be ‘the color’ in 2024, 2025.”
Don’t be surprised to see a vintage 1920s flapper dress with, well, whatever color is going to be “the color” in two years. Just ask Skylar Volz—she’ll know.