Jackie Pesce is the definition of a woman who works hard and asks for what she wants. At the ripe age of 25, she is the Associate Fashion Director for Read to Wear at Macy’s (aka she chooses what trends Macy’s will have for women, and then you buy them). She began her career fresh out of college in the Macy’s Executive Development Program where she started as an assistant buyer in women’s ready to wear. She expressed her desire to work in the fashion office, and when there was an opening for an associate fashion director position, her boss knew she could deliver top quality work for the position. She was asked to fill it, and has been movin’ on up ever since!
Tell us about your education & internships before you graduated college:
I had an amazing college experience at the University of Florida where I got a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations and a minor in communication studies. I was heavily involved in extracurricular activities like a sorority and student government. Initially, I wanted to pursue something in public relations/communication/marketing. I interned at a PR firm in South Florida (my home) for one summer, and then the next summer (going into senior year), I interned at Sunshine Sachs and Associates, a top entertainment PR agency in New York City. Clients included many A-list celebrities. Sounds cool, right? Needless to say I changed my goal of working at a PR firm in the big city to where am I now – at a huge corporation in fashion many know called Macy’s.
So your first job was Macy’s, any fashion girls dream. What was working there like straight out of college? What was the move to NYC like coming from sunny Florida?
My job was actually great in the first couple of months because I was in a training program with a group of young professionals in the same boat as me. As far as moving to NYC, that was EXTREMELY overwhelming (and expensive!) It’s definitely hard to move here. You’re guaranteed nothing more than a tiny apartment, and you have no clue what’s going on amidst the constant hustle and bustle.
You said you were placed in a training program, but how was adjusting to the different individuals you were placed with? What were the immediate likes and dislikes?
The training program made it easy to adjust. Meeting new people from different schools was interesting and very exciting. I liked learning new things that weren’t taught in college, and I felt like I was becoming a grown-up; I was gaining more knowledge at a very fast pace.
I disliked the hours, and there are no more naps, gym breaks and errands whenever I feel like it. Another huge stress is the constant anxiety of thinking “wait this is the real thing?! I really can’t mess this up here!” Haha.
Okay so what exactly does the Associate Fashion Director for Read to Wear do at Macys? (That’s such an awesome title!)
I work very closely with my boss, who is the Vice President Fashion Director for Macy’s. I am basically her right arm, supporting her with whatever she needs, so tasks vary day-to-day. My main responsibilities are trend forecasting and supporting the buyers. This means advising them on what they need to be buying in order to keep up with the market and the competition. For example: if everyone is selling dark florals as a print trend, and Macy’s doesn’t have any in their assortments, I didn’t do my job! I also do a lot of marketing and visual merchandising. I am in constant contact with our counterparts in the company such as the buyers, visual team, marketing team and product development/designers.
What an amazing position for someone so young! Is there anything else you would have or like pursue?
I always secretly think about being a reporter for entertainment news or sports! I always think about how I wish I pursued that starting in college instead of PR. I didn’t realize I was interested until later in the game, but I’ve had great opportunities elsewhere.
Being so young, successful and having so much responsibility at work, how do you balance it all?
The million-dollar question! Honestly, I’ve been living in NYC for three years and I am still working on that. It is a constant work in progress because work takes up so much time. I’ve finally gotten the hang of keeping a routine and sticking with it. If you plan ahead, it makes such a difference…I use the notes in my iPhone religiously! I also realized that if your personal life is going well, it affects work positively, so I try to prioritize my mental and physical health first and then everything else falls into place.
What advice would you have given yourself before you graduated college and/or right when you moved?
Stay persistent. Persistence is key. If you’re feeling discouraged just keep on going and trying as hard as you literally can. In the end it’s worth it. Also, always be inspired. Whatever or whoever it is that inspires you – constantly seek it out.