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Climbing the ladder: Career Advice from Camilla’s Digital Marketing Manager

We spoke to (now-ex) Camilla employee, Gabrielle Wakeman about her time as their Digital Marketing Manager.

Where did you study?

At The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York (FIT). They had programs for everything from fashion design and fashion business, to toy design, cosmetics and fragrance marketing.

Why did you pick it?

There wasn’t a particular course that I was driven to do. I was drawn in by the creativity of the place. I never really dreamt of being a designer, I actually thought I wanted to be a buyer- but after quickly realising it’s not that glamorous, (and actually a lot of math and Excel work sheets) I decided that marketing was for me.

What did you like about your course?

During my time there I had the opportunity to spend six weeks in Europe with three appointments a day, going from fashion house to fashion house representing the University. From being taught the inside of the Gucci manufacturing plant, meeting Vivienne Westwood in her show room, and going to Alexander McQueen’s. I don’t think FIT have exactly this now, but I believe they have a similar graduate option called Global Fashion Management.

Why fashion?

One of my first internships was actually at IBM, so far from fashion. I was working in the accounts department putting tax numbers into presentations for the senior group of the company. This was the marketing of information (called trade marketing) and it really taught me the importance of how to clearly communicate the important information.

I moved from this into Public Relations. I wasn’t set on ‘fashion’… I wanted something strategic and creative and it was just a natural progression in my marketing career.

Why digital?

As I said, I started in PR – but always had difficulty measuring my ROI and applying hard metrics to prove the results of my efforts and campaigns. As in, an influencer might share an image of them wearing your product but, what is the return for the brand? How many people are going to go and buy that product as a result? Can you prove this?

Where as, digital is something that is tangible and instant, and it give you realtime updates on how my customers engaging. I really like this. This means I can tweak campaigns to give customers what they want and build a stronger relationship between them and the brand. In achieving this I can also increase spending and budgets with more efficient and effective allocations.

Is digital a big aspect of fashion?

Digital for CAMILLA is hugely important- it’s one of our flag ship stores.

It means people can still shop 24/7 and enter the World of CAMILLA.

A huge part of digital marketing is understanding the customer. People are increasingly mobile, and impatient; so we need be creating an experience for not only the desktop user, but also those on mobile and tablet. We need to be thinking 2 years ahead too, optimising the experience for users in the future.

Tell us about your role as Digital Marketing Manager at CAMILLA

As Digital Marketing Manager I was across two areas,

  1. Digital marketing,
  2. Overseeing the online store and customer service team.

A huge part of my role was daily reporting.  I was looking at our analytics to see how many customers are online, what they are looking at, at which points they are leaving the site. It is important to know if you make their experience to check out easier. Then I could be doing anything from collaborating with our digital marketing agencies to ensure that projects (SEO, SEM, acquisition) are on-track and brainstorming new strategies or working with the retail team.

CRM was a huge part of my role. So this meant managing the email channel (our newsletters); I would be working on new ideas and brand activities to put into the Marketing Calendar, brief our in-house design team and external developers to develop an engaging newsletter and then run the final checks before deployment and then finally reporting.

Do you have any advice for interns or people looking to get into the industry?

Most interns and grads we had at CAMILLA were already socially active and digitally savvy, so my advice is to understand how these mediums can be translated for commercial use, using these technologies to develop and grow a brand.

It’s always great if on your first day you come prepared with something that you’re good at and enjoy doing- better using you as a resource for us, and you’re getting to show some initiative and your strengths from the start. Often we may not have planned something for you to do when you arrive, so if you can suggest something yourself then you can jump straight on that, be it retouching models, Photoshop, organising the press closest, etc.  Just don’t be insulted if this isn’t what you end up doing though!

I also heavily rely on my team to collaborate with the interns and feedback to me on what’s working and what’s not. So just because someone is not a manager, make sure you still closely follow instructions and respect their position. To substantiate this, last week I found out that we had resources to add another full-time member to our team. My first step was to ask my team if any of the interns stood out and a week later we hired one of our interns for the full-time role.

So, how did you get the job?

Interning! My first internship to full time job was at American Eagle Outfitter. I was so excited we were on the first season of The Apprentice and did lots of big budget marketing brand activities in New York. My main responsibility was managing the press closet as the PR and marketing intern.

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There were no digital departments at this point, and a lot of my time was spent working on events, and with the VM (Visual Merchandiser) in store.

After a few months of interning I got offered a full time job. This doesn’t just ‘happen,’ and I put it down to the fact that I networked the entire time and carved out my value in the company. It was really busy all the time, and so I took the time to show interest  in some of the bigger projects and events that I worked on. The position was the assistant to the art & fashion director for American Eagle Outfitters which was a great learning opportunity, though I only kept it for a few months as I ultimately wanted to do something creative, and not be the assistant to it.

Do you believe the Australian fashion industry is different to the United States? Would you recommend working over there?

There’s definitely a difference. In Australia there isn’t the variety or the competition [for jobs] that there is in the states. Though I will say that Australian customers are more passionate and brand loyal. The passion that CAMILLA customers have is something that you just wouldn’t be able to find in the States.

My choice to move to Australia was both personal and professional. I knew that it was time to switch jobs and I knew that I needed to have some competitive advantage in my resume – working in the United States, or anywhere overseas, absolutely gives you this… so it was time to move.

When are you NOT right for the fashion industry?

There is a lot of pressure and you’re always very busy, plus working with creatives usually doesn’t lead to a lot of efficiencies. If you are passionate and want to work in a passionate environment though, then it will work for you!

If you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty then there’s no limit to where you can go in the fashion industry, but you do need to be patient and know where you want to go- it’s easy to get lost.

Any sage advice?

Working in an agency, you’ll get shorter and shorter deadlines, but in-house and client side you have demanding bosses and customers, so it depends what you prefer to handle. I believe you can control more on the client side, but perhaps work across more exciting and versatile projects agency side. It’s such a huge industry so it’s just about finding where you fit, and then fighting for it.

Is there anything that you with you had known at the start of your career?

I wish there wasn’t the commonly spun idea that fashion is ‘fluffy’. Not that I got into Fashion because I believed this, but people work REALLY hard. You can put a great PR spin on a super glamorous photo shoot in the Hamptons, but in actuality you’re up at 3am and absolutely exhausted after 14 hours of shooting.

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