Jennifer Pilkington, merchant and founder

Senior merchant at Guidance & Consult, instructor at Ryerson University, and industry collaborator for our Retail Buying Course & The Negotiation Workshops

Jennifer has had a career that spans luxury to action sports, buying and product development.  She's worked for Canada's greatest retailers in the country's best cities - Aritzia in Vancouver, Holt Renfrew in Toronto, and Garage in Montreal.  She sees the Shanghai airport more frequently than any of the three in New York these days.  Her favorite two cities are Florence and San Diego, but finds the question "limiting - there are highlights in every city".  We sat down with her in Montreal last week - enjoy! 

My moleskin day planner.  i would be lost without it.  Bonus notebook space in it as well.

My moleskin day planner.  i would be lost without it.  Bonus notebook space in it as well.

My team.  They're spread over the globe, but we have frequent meetings and are in-touch constantly.  

My team.  They're spread over the globe, but we have frequent meetings and are in-touch constantly.  

A nice bottle of wine - shared of course.  Great industry conversations have been had with one.

A nice bottle of wine - shared of course.  Great industry conversations have been had with one.

ON STARTING OUT

I worked at Holt Renfrew for a lot of years.  Start somewhere strong - it will lay the foundation for the rest of your career.  I learned the importance of great relationships and had excellent exposure to the global industry which both continue to serve me well. 

 

ON TEACHING

I fell into it - a school out in Vancouver asked if I would teach In their Fashion Arts program.  I love how bold & confident fashion students are - it takes a lot of strength and conviction to want to be successful in a large industry like ours.

ON OBSESSION

Its what drives you.  When I was in buying and product management, my obsession was the customer - getting her the best product from a design perspective, from a quality perspective.   Now my obsession is passing that along.

 

What I really love about the courses here is how well-edited they are.  And they start from a strong place - a lot of academic- and industry-based research.  The number of brilliant people who touch each one is remarkable.

ON HUSTLE

 [laughs] I believe what Daniel Levitin's research found - it takes 10,000 hours to master something.  The good news is, it goes by quickly when its something you love. 

ON VARIATION

It was my favorite aspect of buying & product management - working with so many different people and teams to deliver great experiences for the customer.  We're in a perpetually evolving industry, and that is part of what makes it so exciting!

  

 

ON THE FUTURE

Of retail? It's great to see so many major companies making big moves towards improving sustainability throughout their supply chain - H&M, Starbucks, Nike and Patagonia.  Fashion is a beautiful source of inspiration and a creative outlet for many, but there are some negative implications for people and the planet.

TRAVEL ADVICE

Pack light, show up just before your flight leaves.  Talk with your neighbour on the plane.  Also catch up on sleep on the plane.  Take time to eat out in whatever city you're in.    

ON THE BEST MEAL

So many!  I remember quiet breakfasts in Europe fondly - with newspapers, the designer mens team,  and beautiful food.