Behind the Seams
My journey in Fashion
I consider myself very blessed to hold my dream job, especially at 24. As buyer and stylist for one of the most enduring and well-known high end boutiques in El Paso, I’m often asked how I began doing what I do. I’m happy to share my journey, which I’m proud to say is rooted in hard work and refusing to take “no” for an answer.
I first walked into Tres Mariposas in 2008. I had just graduated high school and was newly married. Living in El Paso, I had often driven by the store without knowing what it really was. Around Christmas, I visited and was greeted at the door by owner, Nan Napier, who offered me a holiday macaroon. What a welcomed, but unexpected touch!
I was mesmerized by the energy of the store, the customers and salespeople bustling around with gorgeous clothing draped over their arms. The featured brands were those I had coveted while flipping through fashion magazines, and my purchase was carefully wrapped in designer paper. That initial visit left a major impression on me that I never forgot.
Fast forward to months later, when I landed my first-ever job at Forever 21. Although I appreciated the retail experience, I craved a different environment. My interest was piqued when I came across an online job posting for a sales position at a “high end store,” and I applied immediately. I was thrilled to receive a reply from Nan at Tres Mariposas!
At my interview with Nan, I remember feeling so excited to see the salespeople handling and moving merchandise, and I felt the same inspired energy I felt during my first shopping trip to the store. Despite my earnestness, Nan was upfront about her concerns since I was so young, with such limited experience. Nan’s standards are high, and for good reason. She’s been in the business for more than three decades and knows the industry inside and out, with Tres Mariposas’ reputation on her shoulders. I was crushed, but didn’t let her feedback deter me. I let her know I’d do anything in the store (honestly, I would have cleaned the floors if that’s what it took!) , I just wanted to be a part of their team. She agreed to introduce me to her top sales person , Monica Armendariz, to get her take.
I gushed to Monica about my passion for the store, and revealed that I’d even work for free to have the opportunity to prove myself. She seemed impressed and convinced Nan to offer me a three month internship to learn the ropes. Monica quickly took me under her wing and I got a taste of each role and responsibility in every department. It didn’t take long for me to learn that behind the beautiful, elegant storefront, everyone worked hard to perfect every detail. The sales strategies and techniques were all new to me—it was nothing short of retail boot camp! There were a few times I considered giving up, but they were fleeting thoughts since this was my first exposure to a “real” job. I learned everything from the importance of washing glasses, to creating client relationships from Monica, who had worked at Tres for 35 years. Days were long and a few times, ended in tears, but I can attribute my attention to detail, my product knowledge and styling technique, to those early memories.
At my 90 day review in April 2009, I was hired as a salesperson, a day that would change my life. The first couple years were difficult, and packed with lessons, as I struggled to build a clientele of my own alongside a staff that had been working for decades. When the contemporary buyer at the time left the store, I saw it as my opportunity to step in and lend my perspective on younger, fresher lines. But, they hired another buyer who was slated to attend Market in New York City. Undeterred, I begged Nan to take me along, too.Despite her reservations, Nan agreed to take me along after my husband encouraged me to pay my own way, and join the team for experience. It would be my first and most memorable trip to New York. I still remember the blanket of snow that covered the city when we arrived.
We traveled to the Coterie at the Javits Center, where I was overcome with excitement and wonder. As a lifetime fashion fiend, I vividly remember seeing Sarah Jessica Parker, who was launching Halston Heritage. I had never before been in a space with so many fashionable and like-minded people, I was in awe watching the stylists, editors and buyers breeze down the halls, eyeing the racks. I couldn’t help but feel intimidated, but I offered my input anyway.
Months later, the new contemporary buyer moved on from Tres, and I felt that my time has finally come. Nan was still unconvinced. She cited my lack of experience and flat out denied me the role. Frustrated but determined, I suggested another internship, this time focused strictly on buying. She reluctantly agreed. It was then that I became the “contemporary champion,” advocating for an expanded inventory of youthful and accessible lines. I spearheaded the focus on the section, handling it like it was my “mini” store until I proved its value.
A year later I was finally a buyer, and now, I buy for four departments at Tres and help co-buy for the others. I am always striving for the next growth opportunity within Tres Mariposas because I believe in my heart that when you really want something and set your mind to it, and you can accomplish anything. Through hard work and willingness to learn, improve and change, the world truly sits at your designer shoes.