How to become … a visual merchandising manager

Have you ever wondered how someone chose their career path? Was it through a passion developed in school or did they accidentally ‘fall into it’? In this issue, we speak with David M Robinson’s visual merchandising manager, Lauri Hammond, to find out how she got into this particular line of work and what she loves most about working for the region’s most prestigious jewellers.

What educational journey did you take following your secondary school education? What qualifications did you need?
My educational journey was not a traditional one, after my GCSE’s I frankly had no idea what I wanted to do. I was working part time for a high-street retailer and on occasion I was asked to style mannequins and install basic window displays which I really enjoyed.
I loved the theatre of window dressing so I threw myself into applying for junior visual merchandising jobs and quickly found myself working for Topshop in The Bullring, Birmingham. Alongside this role I started to study with the Open University, initially taking on short art related courses building up to longer more specialised modules, eventually graduating with a degree in art history.
I must highlight that throughout my career it is my practical experience that has proved the most valuable in terms of my progression.

Did your current role influence your subject choices at GCSE or A-level? Did you have an idea of what you wanted to do and which subjects would be most relevant?
As I mentioned above, I didn’t comprehend that a role like mine even existed. I therefore surmised that I couldn’t go too far wrong in simply studying subjects I enjoyed and excelled in.

To what extent did you feel your creativity was nurtured and developed at school and how was this done?
Art was unsurprisingly the lesson I looked forward to most. My art teacher introduced me to the work of Salvador Dali and Edvard Munch – it is only now I understand how pivotal this was to my development. At the age of 14 this wasn’t art as I knew it, it wasn’t ornamental, it wasn’t ‘easy’ to look at. It was confrontational and unsettling, I understood then the power and purpose of art, and I think about this in my work regularly.

What previous roles did you have before beginning your current role at DMR?
My background has always been in retail, and I’ve had the opportunity to work for several well-known names, including working for Harvey Nichols creating installations for the brand’s flagship showroom in Knightsbridge. During this time, I was part of a team that created striking displays throughout the year for which this store has become famous.
What attracted you to work at David M Robinson jewellers?
In the North West of England, there is no other name so synonymous with diamond jewellery and luxury environments as David M Robinson. It is great to be joining the business at such an exciting time and celebrating 50 years of DMR. This anniversary gives the opportunity to design some super creative installations which will draw the eye to the windows of the four showrooms.

What does your job entail as a Visual Merchandising Manager? Can you describe a typical day?
To sound cliché, no two days are the same! I could be working on anything from the brainstorming of new ideas for a showroom window, to finding exciting new ways to display our jewellery product in-store.
We’re currently undergoing the company’s largest expansion project to date at the showroom in Manchester city centre, so we are busy working on new options to create the most beautiful environment in which to view our collections. In luxury, it is important for you to experience the most stunning surroundings, and we understand that at DMR.

What is the latest window installation at DMR?
DMR has just launched a new campaign across the showrooms called ‘Let Love Grow’. The idea behind the theme comes from the personal journeys that many of our clients go on with the brand. From engagement, marriage and other key milestones in their lives. The display is super colourful and it is perfect for this time of year as we transition from summer to autumn.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to develop a career in the visual merchandising field?
It is crucial in a visual role to learn quickly that the work you do is completely subjective. You will be confronted with people’s opinions frequently and you should accept both the good and bad with humility.
We live in an increasingly digital world which means visual merchandisers must work harder to impress customers that choose to visit the high street. My advice is to always be curious: inspiration and innovation can be found everywhere.

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