I just had to admit to the 4th year Consumer Science students at the University of Pretoria that I felt ancient. You see I matriculated in 1998 whereas most of the 20 students I spoke to only finished school as recently as 2013! They were only starting Grade 1 as I was wrapping up Grade 12.
My talk that day covered Brand Management, Visual Merchandising and the other types of roles that I source workplace staff for. It was an amazing experience to be able to share with them what’s currently happening in the job market and the fact that industry vacancies are slowing down, which is a biggie.
I also spoke about how today social media and business are like butter on toast. I know this because this digital brand that you’re visiting right now did not just fall in to our laps. We used some of our Power Couple SA winnings to build and establish the brand, and this tool took a lot of Emile+Razia time to build, plus lots of love and dedication from our digital agency too. But as they say, the hard work gets the coolest results, one of them being that Kellogg’s All-Bran approached us to collaborate with them on some digital work for their legendary brand, which we are just thrilled about. The added benefit to this collaboration is that all the students attending my talk were all given a complimentary Breakfast Pack, which we hope will entice them on to follow a positive eating lifestyle.
It was a plus for me to give some advice to the final-year Consumer Science students too, such as:
- Starting in-store is a phenomenal initiator into the rag trade. There’s something about the daily handling of saleable clothing that gives you an incredible level of insight. Both Emile and I started on retail sales floors and because we worked under extremely passionate leaders, our learning curve was enhanced exponentially.
- Buying is not as glamorous as it looks. Buyers sometimes have to cover retail stores in 4 countries in only 2 weeks. When you factor in the time differences this can be a crazy experience. You literally walk all day and are in stores morning to night, so there is very little time to experience a city or its culture. It’s not a working holiday
- Working for an international brand is not always inspiring or creative. An American brand’s headquarters will be in America and it’s normally the American Head that will sign off on an upcoming campaign. This means they will decide on the look of the models, whether the shoot is in studio or on location and personally choose the furniture and/or prop textures, etc. The final images will have to be used in all of the countries where the brand is sold too. So, if you work in the South African office, you will not be able to arrange a local photo shoot so that the campaign is more suited to SA shoppers, and you won’t have a say over the models’ hairstyles or hair colour either. The only thing you might be able to do, is choose a portrait version of an image over a landscape one. This is largely the case for most international brands where the directive is taken from the home-territory office. It does make sense though as the brand image and identity needs to be consistent from one country to another.
I ended off by telling them that it’s a tough industry, and looking after their health and well-being is paramount to being successful. Kellogg’s All-bran did us such a favour by approaching us and educating us on the importance of fibre in our diets in order to keep everything moving in our bodies, thereby improving our overall health. We now not only ensure that a fibre-filled breakfast is a Samson household staple, but that it is a lunch-box staple too. I pack our breakfast muffins in as an office snack for Emile. The other day he also said that he wants to take soy or almond milk plus cereal along. Why? It will help him beat that 4 o’ clock craving for sugar that we all are susceptible to.
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