When Stella Wang moved to the United States from China in 2009, she found work in hotels and restaurants but had her sights set on luxury retail. The only problem was getting into the business.
Help came in the form of a new partnership between Parsons The New School for Design, LVMH, and the Chinese-American Planning Council called LVMH Fundamentals in Luxury Retail. The innovative program, which welcomed its first cohort in March, matches Mandarin-speaking New Yorkers struggling to find reliable work with high-end retailers seeking knowledgeable sales associates to service an increase in Mandarin-speaking clientele. The ten-week program provides participants with fashion history and visual retailing education from Parsons faculty, job readiness skills from CPC Workforce Development Division staff and training in selling and clienteling skills from LVMH professionals.
LVMH Fundamentals in Luxury Retail also gives students real-world experience by arranging internships at LVMH brand stores. Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Donna Karan are among the brands that have offered internships to program participants.
“I interned at Donna Karan and – wow, I learned a lot there,” said Christine Chen who completed her training in May and now works as a sales associate in the accessories department of Louis Vuitton’s Fifth Avenue flagship. “In ten days they taught me pretty much everything. They never asked what I could do for them, but what they could do to teach me. I am so grateful for that experience.”
Shirley Yin was also in the first cohort, and has since joined the men’s shoes and ready-to-wear team at the Fifth Avenue Louis Vuitton store. “I’m working with people who truly love their jobs,” she says. “That makes it fun for me – and I’m still learning a lot.”
As for Stella Wang, the course also helped her realize her goal, and connected her with a position in the women’s shoe section of Louis Vuitton. “This program is amazing,” she says. “It’s a great opportunity to help the Chinese community to find better work.”
The program will begin its third cycle in September. Application to the program is open to all who speak English and Mandarin, who are currently under- or unemployed, who have a high school diploma or educational equivalent and who are passionate about fashion and retail. To learn more about the program contact Wendy Eng at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212.941.0041 x504 and watch the above video.