Featured Alum: Kim Braun – From Italian Studies Major to E-Commerce Manager in NYC

Who is Our Interviewee

Kim Braun from Spokane, WA. Class of 2012. Bachelor of Arts in Italian Studies. Currently lives in NYC.

Current Job Title

E-Commerce Manager

Current Organization or Company

Public Clothing Company (parent company). E-commerce Manager for ATM Anthony Thomas Melillo and two additional brands to be named in 2020.

Briefly describe your current role

I currently manage the e-commerce website for a contemporary designer brand. I handle all day to day operations, including product upload, inventory management, asset management and customer service. I also manage the quarterly marketing strategy and coordinate seasonal photo shoots.

How did you get started in a career in your current sector / industry?

During my sophomore year at UW (2010), I interned at Totokaelo, which at the time was a small retailer on Western Ave (it has now since grown into a large company with locations on Capitol Hill and in NYC). I learned the ins and outs of running an e-commerce business and really enjoyed the work. I continued to work at Totokaelo for about 2 years. After graduating, I worked in retail sales at Nordstrom in the contemporary designer department, Via C, which taught me the importance of quality customer service. From there, I moved to NYC to pursue my career in Fashion E-commerce.

How did your education at UW prepare you for your career? What was your undergraduate major?

Having always loved learning languages, I chose to take ITAL 101: Elementary Italian in my FIG and completely fell in love with language, the courses and professors. While my major doesn’t directly pertain to my career, I have a knowledge that is very unique and comes in handy in surprising ways, whether discussing the latest runway show in Milan or different techniques used in the manufacturing side of the business. UW expanded my thinking and helped me become more of a global citizen. I learned how to work with people, manage my time, and problem solve. During my time at UW, I became more independent and curious about what the world has to offer. Who knows, maybe I’ll eventually work for an Italian brand!

If you are no longer in your first position, briefly walk us through your career journey since then:

My first role after graduating from UW was a retail sales position at Nordstrom. After about a year and a half in that role, I moved to NYC, where I began working in retail sales for a few months. I then was hired as the E-commerce Assistant at a multi-brand designer boutique. I was in that role for about 6 months when the E-commerce Lead role at Rachel Comey opened up. Although I was only in my current position for a short amount of time, I was a huge fan of Rachel Comey, so had to take the leap and apply. I began working at Rachel Comey in a split position of retail sales and e-commerce management. After about 6 months, I moved in to the E-commerce Manager role full-time and worked at Rachel Comey for 3.5 years. In January 2018, I began working for Public Clothing Company and currently manage the E-Commerce business for ATM Anthony Thomas Melillo. We’re in the process of launching a women’s active brand and acquiring another contemporary designer brand, so I’ll be managing those two in addition to ATM starting this year.

What do you most enjoy about your sector / industry / job?

I love the combination of creative and technical skills my job requires. I get to coordinate photo shoots, but also optimize the technology on the website to perform best for our customers. E-commerce changes so quickly, so I have to stay on top of the latest technology and retail trends. The ever-changing environment keeps my job very interesting!

How is your current career the same, or different, than what you thought it would be when you began college?

When I first started college, I knew I wanted to work in fashion, but didn’t know what capacity I wanted to work in. I thought you either had to be a designer or a buyer for a company, so working at Totokaelo really opened up my eyes to the industry and the many roles that go into it. I found the area of fashion that I’m most interested in and am continuing to learn new skills as I move forward in my career.

Do you have any words of advice for UW students interested in a career in your sector or industry?

On the job experience is super important. Working in a small company helps you learn the different facets of the industry. Ask questions if you don’t understand something and ask to be included if you want to learn about a different part of the company that you’re not currently involved in. Keep in touch with your connections – you never who you’ll cross paths with in the future!

By Eli Heller (He/Him)
Eli Heller (He/Him) Career Coach Eli Heller (He/Him)