THE INTERVIEW: Nicole Christie, Fashion Star Buyer & H&M Communications Manager

Thursday, June 07, 2012

"I was infamous, I was the manager that always had the most holds in the closet..Like Nikki you have to clean out your holds, you can't have everything in the store it's for the customers!" ~Nicole Christie
Myself along with fellow HFB members: Lynne, Kourtney,& Brittany had the chance to interview H&M's Communications Manager for North America, Nicole Christie during the H&M Press Breakfast.  I was excited for the opportunity to interview someone high-up at my favorite store and had no idea Nicole was on Fashion Star! "Gasp!How did I not know?" you say!? Yep, you heard right, even those of us obsessed with fashion can find ourselves over-saturated with the plethora of fashion shows on TV nowadays and at the time I couldn't get wrapped up in another reality fashion competition, so that is how I missed it! Nicole was so booked with interviews during the press breakfast that we decided to do a group interview with her to not take up too much of her time! Here's the scoop:
Brittany: On Fashion Star we saw you handpick Designers, how does it really work?
Nicole: Our Design department is based in Stockholm, and we have 140 designers that design everything that you see for our collections in house. We hire designers from all over the world, and they have to be willing to relocate to Stockholm because that's where all the creativity is and that is the mother ship. We hire designers from design schools to professionals that have been working in the industry for years. We're always looking for designers that have a new take & fresh viewpoints that can push H&M to the next level and compliment what we already have.
Brittany: When is the Next Fashion Star? Will you be on it? 
Nicole: Talks are still in the works on the date. I would love to be  apart of it again if the opportunity presents itself. H&M's response from being on the first season, has been great. People loved learning about the brand and seeing how we make decisions on what to buy to sell in the store. Having those conversations go public has been amazing. 
Brittany: Love your dress by the way!  

Nicole: H&M, of course! I love you guys, but I am so ready to shop! At 11:30 I'm going to do the biggest drive-by you've ever seen! I already know what I want
Brittany: Predictions for the Fall, What are they?
Nicole: Fall is going to be great. We just did our open house in New York in a show room. We're focusing on luxury as fabrics. Our press collection  has beads, stones, crochet, embellishments and rich colors like burgundy and charcoal. It's gonna be amazing.
Shasie:We don't really have a big Fall & Winter Temperature here in Houston.  
Nicole: What do you do? Fall Fashion is so great! We are going to have our Fall collection here with great knitwear and jackets...
Lynne: "We still buy them and wear them,"
Shasie: Yea we force it!
Nicole: Isn't it winter for you guys when it's 60? *laughter* You wear puffy jackets when it's 50!
Shasie: Yep!
Lynne: What is the difference that separates H&M from other brands?
Nicole: We are extremely focused on competing with ourselves. No other retailer has the mix of design, fashion, quality...paying attention to quality of the garments, number one user of organic cotton in the world, using recycling fabrics (recycled polyester) in conscious collection, and the price. We may not always be the cheapest or the least expensive but for what we offer that's always going to be the best price that you can get it. No one does all of that in one store like they do and for the entire family.
Shasie: I love the kids section!
Nicole: The kids section is unbelievable, I was in there for an hour yesterday and it's affordable! Did you see the tutus?
Shasie: They didn't have clothes like that when I was younger!
Shasie: I know you are opening up the store at Willowbrook mall, any other plans other locations? 
Nicole: For Houston, no, not at this time. *Group moan* We have a big focus on expansion in the south and the west coast, so we entered Texas last year, and now in Houston. There is so much potential in this market.
Lynne:What took you so long? *Laughter* When are you going to open an online store?
Nicole: Fall! 
Brittany: That's the number one question my readers want to know! You received a good response via Fashion Store
Nicole: Yes on Fashion Star we sold the garments online through NBC after every show sold out 20 minutes after the show ended. Online for us is going to be the biggest thing since we opened in New York! Demand is going to be huge for online. 
Lynne: Do you plan on collaborating exclusively with designers?
Nicole: We have some surprises, we always like to surprise our customers, We'll be doing something special I'm sure.
Brittany: So you will be doing something?
Nicole: Yes, and you got the scoop here first!
Kourtney: How did you get started at H&M?
Nicole: I graduated Pre-Med from Columbia University as a Bio Major and Chemistry Minor. Not too long  after that I was working for Columbia on a research project and moonlighting retail in the evenings. I applied for H&M because of an ad I saw in the Wallstreet Journal. But I've always been a fashionista, going to thrift stores, styling my friends, interning at DKNY in school and interning  at Levis...I was a fanatic...then I went to Sweden for 4 months and never looked back.
Shasie: That's kind of like how I am! I do engineering during the day, and fashion at night
Nicole: I'd be in the lab thinking of Calvin Klein. For me I think it's proof that you're not good at any one thing. You have varying interests. You don't have to go to fashion school or have a degree in fashion merchandising. There's so many opportunities out there. You don't have to be limited.  H&M is such a good company that really believes in people. It's fantastic to be able to learn and be giving the challenge to do something new.
Brittany: I've been thinking of changing careers as well, but it's hard to go from one salary to another, but this is a passion.
Nicole: It's temporary, but the more you work at it, you'll find ways to increase your income. You know what, people don't do things that we really want to do because we're scared. I've faced that fear many times in my life. Before I went to Sweden, I was thinking "I did not spend all this money at Columbia to be a manager in a retail store?But I just fell in love! I love being in the store, I Love hanging garments & working with customers, I would come in with the visual merchandisers at 6am and we would change the departments.  Every time something new came in, it was like Christmas! I was infamous, I was the manager that always had the most holds in the closet. "Like Nikki you have to clean out your holds, you can't have everything in the store it's for the customers!"
Thank you Nicole for taking the time to be interviewed by Houston's very own up and coming Fashion Bloggers! You are definitely an inspiration to all of us, and I'm sure to my readers!

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  1. cool post and great intervieW!!

    1. Thanks! Yea we asked some realy great questions!

  2. Great interview. She gave some really good advice for those on the fence about changing careers.

  3. Great interview! And Nicole seems to be very sympathic & funny :)

  4. Nice interview, lucky fashion blogger you! :) Love your necklace too!

    1. Thanks girlie!! Yea I love that necklace...though it's not H&M (shhh don't tell anyone!) ha!

  5. Oh my godddd am I allowed to say I am officially jealous!What a wonderful opportunity

    if you can imagine there is no H and M in my city....(where I live now)

    1. Aww where are you located again? They are having a big push for H&Ms in the south and west coast so maybe one is coming near you sooN!

  6. This is awesome Shasie! When I lived in NYC I would visit H+M at least once a day I honestly had a shopping addiction and would tell my Texan friends about it and they would not understand me ll! Its so exciting to see it finally opened here in Houston as it really has been hard since I moved here to go without it! Great interview, always wanted to be a buyer/ fashion business woman, she's definitely an inspiration!

    Monica xo

    1. I know right. I would go to H&M all the time in Philly & Pittsburgh, but this store is still better! Definitely an inspiration!

  7. What a fantastic interview. I'am always curious to hear about how people arrived in their fashion careers.

    1. I know right! Not that we can 100% copy, but it always gives us a boost to know that we could potentially end up doing the same thing via our own path


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