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Fashion Merchandising Maven Shares Advice for Fashion Students

In her 28-years working in the world of retail fashion marketing and merchandizing, Katy Livingstone has become a maven of merchandizing and a leader in luxury branding in Canada.

Livingstone graduated from the Fashion Marketing and Merchandising Diploma program, now offered through the Toronto Film School, in 1988 when it was under the Academy of Design brand.

Since then she has gone on to have an impressive career in fashion marketing and merchandizing. Livingstone started working directly out of school for Beaver Canoe and then with the Canadian clothing store Jacob. She spent six years, 1994 to 2000, working as a District Manager at Club Monaco.

“I always loved being store-side,” Livingstone said. “You would get 100 boxes a day and to me it was like Christmas. That excitement of what is new and what you can sell.”

When she left Club Monaco she went back to the Academy of Design from 2000 to 2002, this time to teach future fashion merchandisers. Then an opportunity presented itself for Livingstone to work for the luxury brand Gucci, first as the general manager of the Bloor Street store and then as the Regional Director for Canada and the North Eastern United States.

“That was unique because I am a Canadian and ran 90 per cent of my business in the US,” Livingstone said. “I did all the stores in the North East coast and reported into New York and with the managers we went to Italy and were able to see the collections and work with the buyers.”

Most recently, Livingstone was the divisional vice president of brand stewardship for the Hudson’s Bay Company and played a huge role in launching the new Kleinfeld Bridal Boutique at the Hudson’s Bay in downtown Toronto.

“Brand stewardship, in essence, is someone who is there as a liaison or conduit between Hudson’s Bay and the brands they carry,” Livingstone explained. “To protect the integrity of that brand and make sure their standards are being met, to make sure they are truly represented in the image of their brand.”

With all this experience and expertise in mind, Livingstone took a moment to share a few pieces of advice with current or aspiring students in Fashion Marketing and Merchandising Diploma at the Toronto Film School.


Keep Work/ Life Balance in Mind

“I am very cognizant of work/ life balance… at some point you start to identify yourself with your job and I now caution people against that.

I think that first and for most I am a mother and my priority is my family, but there were probably some days and years that the amount of hours I was working and the amount of travel that I did, the balance probably shifted.

So, I am cognizant that whatever I do now, must allow me to have family first.”


You Can Do Anything

“I always felt enabled, I never felt like there was something I couldn’t do. It is your choice; you can do whatever you want, but often we are our own biggest block. When the opportunity to work at Gucci arose I was intimidated at first but then though, ‘Why couldn’t I do it?’ I had the list of qualifications so all I needed was the confidence. I certainly believed I was a contender and that is the adage you have to take when you have to go in and sell yourself.”


Think beyond the obvious

“Once you get into a certain area of business, like luxury service, I encourage people to think beyond the obvious. Think about what are those transferable skills, where else can they be applied.

Be open-minded when it comes to a career. I know that sounds so cliché, but go ahead and try different things.”


Opportunity abounds

“Often times opportunities will present themselves when you aren’t looking for them.

I look back now at my career and things that happened were presented in such a way that I wasn’t looking for that, but I wasn’t so definitive or so controlling that I had to be in exactly this. Just take it all in.”


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