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The Panda gets a Job among Artists: A Fashionable Comedy


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I spent some time with an old friend today and mentioned that I want to get a part-time office job.  I'm not interested in classroom teaching and I need to DO something that doesn't involve making other people do their work.  I don't want to be in charge of ANYONE.  I just want to be responsible for MY work.  This is a very artistic friend who does a variety of artistic jobs.  One of them is working in a boutique.  She wants me to come work part time for them.  Ummmmmm . . . I'm NOT artistic and not terribly interested in clothes and I certainly don't want to have to buy expensive ones.  This shop is owned by the designer who designs the clothes, makes them locally, and sells them in her boutique.  They're made here so they are not cheap.  The store isn't busy, but managed to stay in business during the pandemic because it's expensive and the customers kept buying. . . and they pumped out a lot of fancy masks too.

My friend assured me that I can show up in black and they'll drape me in merchandise so that I will look fancy and not have to invest in an expensive wardrobe.  It's what the employees do. It seems my function is to spend time with these women who have expendable income for one-of-a-kind clothing and tell them how great they look.  Apparently the owner/designer is a really cool lady but they've had some bad luck with some really quirky new employees and they just want a normal, competent person to hold down the fort.  There is a possibility of a transfer to the office side of the operation down the road because they're growing and they'll eventually need to expand that part of the business. 

If I end up working there, this will be the most bizarre job search ever.  My "interview" is "come by tomorrow any time and I'll give you some forms." They don't open until 11 so I already like the hours. 😂 It all feels very kooky, but a small-but-growing, ethical, and local business run by interesting people sounds like it could be something promising.  

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My sister had a job like this for several years, but with handbags.  
 

It worked out well for her.  The owner/designer was easy to get along with.  
 

Over time her rent kept increasing and she needed to move somewhere with lower costs, or she would not have left.  
 

She met a lot of interesting people.  
 

I think they also took some stuff on consignment from jewelry makers, and she liked to manage that part.  
 

Where my sister worked — a lot of clients had interesting jobs.  They dressed creatively for jobs where that was expected.  So maybe not necessarily — just people who have free time for shopping, if that makes sense.  
 

Edit:  I don’t know if she exactly made friends from working there, but she ended up being friends with people who shopped there and knew her as someone working there, but maybe they really met in another way, but my sister was known as someone who worked there.  It’s hard to explain.  Anyway — it worked for her.  

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Any chance this designer works with silk?  I only ask because that would drape well over your black. 😁 I once knew an artist who often worked in silk … gorgeous clothes.

I think it sounds fun! Totally think it’s worth checking out!

FWIW, the artist/designer I knew years ago was well loved and lots of fun.  We did some of the same shows (I think she’s doing a traveling boutique type thing now, because after reading your post, I had to go check and see!  Pretty cool.) Everyone I saw working with her, years ago, seemed to be having fun.  They sure made it look that way.  So if it’s anything like that … I think you’d have a good time.  

 

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20 minutes ago, Spryte said:

Any chance this designer works with silk?  I only ask because that would drape well over your black. 😁 I once knew an artist who often worked in silk … gorgeous clothes.

I think it sounds fun! Totally think it’s worth checking out!

FWIW, the artist/designer I knew years ago was well loved and lots of fun.  We did some of the same shows (I think she’s doing a traveling boutique type thing now, because after reading your post, I had to go check and see!  Pretty cool.) Everyone I saw working with her, years ago, seemed to be having fun.  They sure made it look that way.  So if it’s anything like that … I think you’d have a good time.  

 

There's definitely a lot of silk happening over there.  She even has some dresses made from crushed dupioni silk.  I can get on board with silk. 😍

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My niece dropped out of college for 5 years to work in a similar boutique in NorCal - she was pursuing international relations in a an elite university when she decided that being draped in designer clothes and convincing rich customers that they looked great in their expensive clothes was her calling. She became boutique manager for a few years and eventually went back to get her degree. She plans to come back and work in the boutique later .. it is a great job if  you enjoy it and are a people person 😀

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32 minutes ago, KungFuPanda said:

There's definitely a lot of silk happening over there.  She even has some dresses made from crushed dupioni silk.  I can get on board with silk. 😍

Fun! How gorgeous.  Dying to hear how it goes tomorrow!  
 

I can pm you the name of the designer I knew (not well, I think my mom knew her much better than I ever did), if you want to check her work out, for kicks, just to compare. She also had employees wear black and drape themselves with pieces, so you could see pics of how that worked for her.  She did beautiful work.  I have no idea if she has a store front now, or if she ever did, my memory is fuzzy on that.

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When I was young I worked in retail clothing briefly.  I hated it.  I am not a sales person.  I am a service person.  
 

But if I were you I would see this job as a grand adventure.  It is just unusual enough to not fall into the typical retail job description.  And if you hate it at least you will be doing a lot of networking and can move on to something else.,

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1 hour ago, Scarlett said:

When I was young I worked in retail clothing briefly.  I hated it.  I am not a sales person.  I am a service person.  
 

But if I were you I would see this job as a grand adventure.  It is just unusual enough to not fall into the typical retail job description.  And if you hate it at least you will be doing a lot of networking and can move on to something else.,

I never thought to put it that way, but I AM more of a service person than a salesman. It’s not something I imagined for myself, but it pays better than teaching with much less stress and responsibility. 

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Sometimes, the thing we need falls into our lap when we need it. This might be one of those things. And, as long as you feel like it won't damage any relationships down the line if it doesn't work out, it sounds like a great way to get a toe into a growing company.

The company I work for now has a ton of employees -- including my own boss -- who did the old-fashioned "starting in the mail room" kind of thing and have ended up growing into positions of increasing responsibility (and salary) as the company has expanded and found needs for them. 

I hope this is great for you!

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56 minutes ago, KungFuPanda said:

I never thought to put it that way, but I AM more of a service person than a salesman. It’s not something I imagined for myself, but it pays better than teaching with much less stress and responsibility. 

It sounds kind of fun and quirky. Maybe if you think of it as more service than sales, it might be to your advantage. I hate having a salesperson who is trying so hard to sell something that they miss what I need. But a service person will listen to what the person wants and really try to fulfill that, as well as direct in another direction if something doesn't look good on a person. After you have some time to really get to know the inventory and what looks good on what type of build, etc., well, that is definitely a service (which results in sales)!

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I went to the shop today.  Weirdest pre-interview ever.  I was told about the designer, the local factory, the domestically milled fabric, and the usual clientele.  I then spent an hour playing dress-up in different outfits.  I may not be a fashion person but I am a FABRIC person and some of the fabrics she designed, had made, then made into clothing were exquisite. Don't get me started on the one-of-a-kind buttons she made. Soooo, my friend told me to come in for training on Thursday (no time) and that some guy would officially interview me tomorrow (no time).  It felt like the shoppe was trying to get me to hire IT.  What is that? Also, I was there for hours and only two people came in.  Now I'm inventing a story in my head about it being a front. 

I made sure before I went in that my friend wouldn't be offended if something that suited me better came along and I left.  She's fine with that. I also made sure that she understood that I wasn't buying ANY of those expensive clothes because I want to make money and get something current on my resume, not work for a wardrobe.  I was assured that I can come in every day in leggings and a black shift and just drape myself in merchandise while I'm working. I may be afraid of some of the more expensive stuff.  I've never seen so much dupioni silk in one place in my life. 

It's weird, right? 

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It sounds awesome.  I worked for a costume store in high school and we wore neutral clothes and then accessorized with the merchandise.  It was fun, and I always sold more of whatever I was wearing. Especially wigs.  I sold out the Elvira wigs more than once.  😄
 

I’m drooling just thinking of custom painted silks.  

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47 minutes ago, Danae said:

It sounds awesome.  I worked for a costume store in high school and we wore neutral clothes and then accessorized with the merchandise.  It was fun, and I always sold more of whatever I was wearing. Especially wigs.  I sold out the Elvira wigs more than once.  😄
 

I’m drooling just thinking of custom painted silks.  

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11 hours ago, KungFuPanda said:

I went to the shop today.  Weirdest pre-interview ever.  I was told about the designer, the local factory, the domestically milled fabric, and the usual clientele.  I then spent an hour playing dress-up in different outfits.  I may not be a fashion person but I am a FABRIC person and some of the fabrics she designed, had made, then made into clothing were exquisite. Don't get me started on the one-of-a-kind buttons she made. Soooo, my friend told me to come in for training on Thursday (no time) and that some guy would officially interview me tomorrow (no time).  It felt like the shoppe was trying to get me to hire IT.  What is that? Also, I was there for hours and only two people came in.  Now I'm inventing a story in my head about it being a front. 

I made sure before I went in that my friend wouldn't be offended if something that suited me better came along and I left.  She's fine with that. I also made sure that she understood that I wasn't buying ANY of those expensive clothes because I want to make money and get something current on my resume, not work for a wardrobe.  I was assured that I can come in every day in leggings and a black shift and just drape myself in merchandise while I'm working. I may be afraid of some of the more expensive stuff.  I've never seen so much dupioni silk in one place in my life. 

It's weird, right? 

I think it is weird, but sounds kind of fun.  Although possibly boring if so few customers come in.  

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It's getting weirder.  Apparently while I was playing dress up at the shop, the hiring manager was hiring someone else at the factory location.  So my friend tells me about this and she's annoyed about the miscommunication.  She's also annoyed because this new hire is a teacher and will not be available in the fall.  The fall is when my friend NEEDS a person because she has a two-month gig at a Ren Faire.  Soooo . . . I decide it's FINE.  I need to be busier and more socialized anyway.  Mentally I move on and fill out other applications.

Four hours later I get a text that the teacher has received some sort of grant and won't be available after all.  I apologize to her for jumping through hoops, but tell her that I'm not sure it would suit me and I'd be gone as soon as I could snag a job where I'm busy enough that time MOVES.  She assured me that she was not inconvenienced, that the store would get busy later in the summer, and if I only stayed a few weeks it would be something current on my resume and she wouldn't be offended. Now I am to meet this hiring manager at the store with my documents. I may train or not when I get there?

I am now completely amused by the way these people run a business.  I learned that the store I'm going to today (for an interview or training . . . who knows) is actually the factory store where the clothes are sold for much less.  Apparently these clothes are at about 500 frou frou boutiques around the country for 2-3 times the price.  The prices are in-friggin-sane.  I appreciate that hand-made designer apparel that's made in the USA is going to be spendy, but my cheapskate heart died a little when I saw those price tags. I'm glad I can control my face. 🤣

I've already decided that IF I actually work there and IF it's mind-numbingly slow and boring I'm just going to work my way through ALL of the Microsoft 360 tutorials and submit resumes online. Maybe I'll land in a nice, busy tax office with no silk for miles. Stay tuned.

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I feel like now you NEED to take the job, so you can find out how these people run the place day-to-day! If they give you a couple pieces of clothing, that should supplement your income a lot 😄

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I went back in . . . in business casual . . . to talk to their management guy.  Management Guy runs the business side of it and seems to be the only non-creative type keeping people on schedule.  He is the husband of the designer.   He said he's not sure how he'll cope with an employee who shows up on time. 😆 After speaking to me he expressed concern that I would get bored before the shop picked up.  Then he asked if I was afraid to use the phone.  Ummmmm . . . afraid? It seems like everyone is phone phobic and he needs more people making calls to their customers to get orders placed because you need rough numbers to order fabric.  It seems if I get bored and am willing to call a person I will get a commission on their entire order.  These are not cold calls . . . they are regular customers and nobody wants to pick up a phone.  I'm a child of the 80s.  I'm not afraid of a phone.  I accepted the job and started right away.  They dressed me first then started showing me the ropes.  

This place is crazy . . . but it a force-of-nature way.  It all centers on this designer (who I've yet to meet) and she designs her clothes, and the fabrics she makes them from.  She also has some sort of national art competition/installation that she oversees, a mini art gallery next to this store, and some sort of immersive art field trip destination place that she created because she didn't need ALL of her factory space for her factory.  I'll see that location when I drop my tax paperwork tomorrow.  Manager Guy TOLD me to come by and see the space, but both him and my friend, separately expressed concerns about the designer meeting me.  They think she'll "steal" me and they need me at this store.   Steal me for what?????

If I get bored, it will take some time because there is a lot to learn about the inventory.  If you've ever walked by a ritzy seaside boutique and looked at clothes that seemed a little old for you and a little crazy for you and WAY too expensive, then that's what we're dealing with.  The clothes are for people who don't want anyone else to wear the exact same thing they're wearing. (They supplied to thousands of boutiques before the pandemic and now they're down to hundreds and waiting to see how the post-covid numbers work out.)  Some stuff I love, some I hate and some I do not get.  I am NOT a fashion person.  I swore I'd never own these clothes, but they already gave me a tunic and the fit is incredible. 

I go to the factory tomorrow to turn in my paperwork.  They haven't run a background check, but I already have keys.  This is going to be wild.  They already have me scheduled for a solo shift on my third day there.  It's going to get crazier.  I can feel it. I'm still not clear if I'm supposed to meet the designer tomorrow or hide from her.

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1 hour ago, Spryte said:

NM, might have been too personal. I still think it sounds like fun!

I think it sounds crazy and if I didn't have a trusted friend who I've known for over a decade and who has worked there for years, I would be sure it was some sort of scheme . . . except I've SEEN the clothes so I haven't worked out that part of the plot yet. 😁 Day 1 WAS fun and appreciate you all joining me on this adventure. 

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1 minute ago, KungFuPanda said:

I think it sounds crazy and if I didn't have a trusted friend who I've known for over a decade and who has worked there for years, I would be sure it was some sort of scheme . . . except I've SEEN the clothes so I haven't worked out that part of the plot yet. 😁 Day 1 WAS fun and appreciate you all joining me on this adventure. 

Will you get to go work at Ren Fair at some point, too, or will you stay in the shop?  Or any other shows?  That could be fun as well!

Your description of it all reminds me so much of the designer I knew, Denise, it is uncanny.  It’s a great industry, I really do think you’ll have a blast even if it’s not your forever gig.

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15 minutes ago, Spryte said:

Will you get to go work at Ren Fair at some point, too, or will you stay in the shop?  Or any other shows?  That could be fun as well!

Your description of it all reminds me so much of the designer I knew, Denise, it is uncanny.  It’s a great industry, I really do think you’ll have a blast even if it’s not your forever gig.

No, the Ren Faire gig is completely separate from the store. There's no connection between those two businesses.  She's working the Faire every weekend in the fall so she won't be available for the store.  I have so many friends who either work the Faire or attend it regularly and I might make it out once every few years.  

My other applications were for a tax office and a medical office. 🤣

Edited by KungFuPanda
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  • KungFuPanda changed the title to The Panda gets a Job among Artists: A Fashionable Comedy

I'm glad I kept reading before I posted because...wow, what a ride! It sounds like fun and I hope the slow times won't last long so you don't get too bored. The "afraid of the phone" thing is a big deal because so many young people ARE afraid to make phone calls. Who knew simply being able to pick up a phone and talk to people would someday be an asset when job hunting lol!

Do keep taking us to work with you. Please. This all sounds so fun and interesting. Now I want to search out local boutiques and see if I can spot some clothing item that might have come from your designer. 😂

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I still haven't met The Designer.  Here's the deal . . .  I'll just keep drip-feeding hints and some of you may figure it out (or message me).  Anyway . . . I dropped my tax paperwork off at the factory/art installation today.  The Husband gave me a tour of the factory and museum and gave me more details about his wife.  She's an artistic force of nature.  She's written several knitting books and used to design knitwear before she moved to the states.  I got to see more amazing fabric and a rack of fall samples that haven't been made yet.  I may be in love with a coat and I am NOT a clothes person.  (I will never own this coat.) They were also working on some wearable art installations because they are filming/photographing that show soon.  It might be a competition.  I can't remember.

Today I learned that some boutique owners don't want to carry items that can be found online so they buy the whole lot or the last of several different sets.  From what I see, no two items are alike anyway even if they are constructed the same.  They switch out fabrics and details.  Their buttons are made so they're not even the same.  Even a single coat won't have a set of identical buttons. I like the hand-carved wooden ones, but the ceramic buttons are nice too.  The geode buttons are above my style level, but I like they exist in the world.

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This is a hoot.  Reminds me vaguely of The Red-Headed League...watch out if they ask you to start copying the encyclopedia!  Or maybe cutting-and-pasting links in a browser, for a more modern take.

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