UAPB graduate Mary Wicks finds her fashion niche at Louis Vuitton
Mary Wicks, a 2001 graduate of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, wears many hats professionally. She presently works for Louis Vuitton, the French luxurious fashion model, and likewise has expertise in a spread of different fields together with gross sales, print journalism, reside information reporting, and movie and tv manufacturing.
Wicks credit her distinctive and adventurous profession to her ardour for folks and networking.
After graduating from UAPB with a level in Mass Communications Journalism, she labored as a reporter for KTBS-TV Channel 3 in Shreveport. Eager to broaden her abilities and diversify her profession after a 12 months as a reporter, she packed her luggage and headed to Los Angeles.
“I didn’t have an apartment or a job when I made the decision to move to Hollywood,” Wicks mentioned. “I stayed in a hotel the first night, but found an apartment the next day. Thanks to my experience in reporting, I knew the language and how to present myself. That came in really handy when I started finding jobs and gaining experience in acting and TV/film production.”
While building her career in California, she appeared in sketches on Jimmy Kimmel Live and acted in films such as Hollywood Chaos with Vanessa Simmons and Tyler Lepley, who starred on Oprah Winfrey in Tyler Perry’s The Haves and the Have Nots Network.
Her acting credits also include The 7th Commandment, an independent film produced by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. She has worked behind the scenes of film productions in roles such as production coordinator and assistant director on films such as Season of the Witch, starring Nicolas Cage, and Open Gate, starring Tyler Hoechlin and Agnes Bruckner.
In 2021, she was hired as a talent coordinator for Brat TV. In this role, one of her responsibilities was recruiting talent for the Facebook Watch digital show Something About Larray, starring Larri “Larray” Merritt, a YouTuber and social media influencer.
As her Brat TV appearance came to an end, Wicks wondered what her next career step would be. In a happy moment, she found out about a potential position as talent acquisition coordinator at Louis Vuitton. She says being offered the job is a testament to the importance of meeting new people and socializing.
“I met my now manager at a Mexican restaurant in Allen, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, when I was a college student,” she said. “We struck up a conversation and she gave me her card and asked to keep in touch. I added them to my professional connections on LinkedIn. I stayed in touch – my expertise – and after graduation she posted the job on LinkedIn and got back to me straight away. She invited me for an interview and here I am.”
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION IN FASHION RETAIL
Wicks mentioned her expertise recruiting expertise for the tv studio performed a key position in getting the job at Vuitton. Based in Dallas, she is accountable for hiring folks with a ardour for luxurious fashion within the South and Central United States
As a member of Vuitton’s Diversity and Inclusion division, she can be accountable for making certain that everybody within the firm, no matter race, gender, gender identification or sexual orientation, has the chance to develop professionally.
“Louis Vuitton wants to change the narrative of who luxury fashion is for,” she mentioned. “One way to work toward that goal is to hire people from diverse backgrounds and communities of color. This includes hiring African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans, and people of other nationalities. This demonstrates our commitment to not only reaching out to a diverse range of consumers, but also to recruiting and retaining talent from diverse backgrounds to work in our stores.”
Over the past year, Wicks has traveled to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to interact with students and tout the benefits of a career in fashion retail. She said she made sure to start her HBCU recruitment spree at her alma mater. In September, she attended the UAPB career fair and plans to come back next year.
“My management has been very supportive of my project to recruit talent at the HBCUs,” she said. “First they asked about the practicality of recruiting in Arkansas, a state with no Louis Vuitton retail stores. I explained that UAPB students come from all parts of the US and that many of them return to their home states after graduation. Due to their high mobility, UAPB graduates could potentially move to cities like Chicago, Atlanta or Dallas to pursue lucrative careers at Louis Vuitton to pursue.
She also believes UAPB will be a great source of potential talent because of the university’s Merchandising, Textiles and Design (MTD) program. The program, offered by the UAPB Department of Human Sciences, teaches students the fundamentals of textiles, apparel design, and merchandising/retail.
Yunru Shen, an instructor for the MTD program, said there is a fashion network club and fashion internship opportunities.
“We support our students in writing resumes, building their portfolios and providing professional advice to help them advance their fashion careers. The MTD program also offers fashion show and exhibition opportunities to allow students to gain hands-on experience in fashion during their undergraduate years.”
TIPS FOR WORKING IN LUXURY FASHION
In her recruitment efforts, Wicks seeks students who are serious about pursuing a career in luxury retail.
“We want to hire students with some retail experience, drive, determination and a strong desire to speak to the brand and, most importantly, to our customers,” she mentioned. “The essential skills are good communication, multitasking, quick learner and understanding of the retail industry.”
Wicks recommends college students achieve expertise in fashion retail earlier than making use of for jobs at luxurious manufacturers.
“My advice would be to work at a retail store like Kendra Scott, Dillard’s, Michael Kors, Macy’s, JCPenney, or a local high-end boutique,” she mentioned. “After gaining some experience, start studying and learn all about Louis Vuitton and the Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton houses. What sets the brand apart? Read about the history and the culture and think about how this will impact your career path and personality. Then create a LinkedIn account and start connecting.”
Wicks mentioned present college students could also be stunned to study the number of jobs accessible within the luxurious fashion retail business. Experienced graduates can work as concierges, account managers, or personal consumer advisors, in addition to in operations, visible merchandising, internet improvement, authorized affairs, buyer relations, and even safety.
“When they’re hired by luxury fashion brands like Louis Vuitton, most people start out as customer service representatives,” she mentioned. “I know one relationship manager who made over $100,000 in commissions alone over the course of a year.”
When interviewing for his or her luxurious fashion firm of alternative, graduates want to verify they do not make a mistake that might price them their job – they should not put on competing manufacturers to the interview.
“Imagine someone turning up for an interview for Louis Vuitton in Gucci clothing and accessories,” Wicks mentioned. “That’s a big no-go because it shows that the candidate doesn’t take the brand seriously enough.”
According to Wicks, Louis Vuitton presently solely affords paid internships in New York City, however college students on summer season or winter holidays could be employed seasonally and work a couple of weeks in part-time or full-time positions to realize expertise within the regional shops.
“Students should remember that if they’re open to mobility, we have opportunities across the country and around the world,” she mentioned.
CONTINUING A UAPB FAMILY LEGACY
Wicks attributes her choice to attend UAPB to a household legacy of alumni from the college. Among her family members who graduated from Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical & Normal (AM&N) College (now UAPB) is the late Vertie Lee Carter, a famend educator, a member of the UAPB National Alumni Hall of Fame and the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame and the late Roy “Doc” Walker, who served as a coach within the Texarkana, Ark., college district for 35 years. While at AM&N, Walker performed soccer and baseball and later served as a athletic coach and assistant baseball coach.
Wicks mentioned Lorraine Fuller, a former UAPB professor of mass communications, satisfied her she may obtain nice success within the area.
“She stayed with me throughout my college years, and when she saw my potential for success, she spoke it to me,” Wicks mentioned. “That’s the true value of an education at UAPB – professors see something in you and help you grow.”
Will Hehemann is a author/editor at the UAPB School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences.