Kalyn Parker ’13 Uses Her Fashion Background and Business Savvy To Forecast Anthropologie’s Success
Think about the last time you visited your favorite clothing store and after searching for 15 minutes, you came across the perfect pair of shoes. The color, design and materials were exactly what you were looking for. But, your size wasn’t in stock.
Wilson College of Textiles alumna Kalyn Parker ’13 makes sure that doesn’t happen when you enter Anthropologie’s brick-and-mortar stores or order online. In her role as the brand’s senior merchandise planner for footwear, Parker works closely with the buying team to ensure that they have the right product, in the right quantity and at the right time to meet customer demands and maximize the company’s sales and profits.
“About four years ago, I decided to pursue an opportunity with Anthropologie, which is part of URBN Inc., in Philadelphia,” she says. “I jumped at the chance to work for a brand that I love as well as experience a new city and state.”
Parker is focused on maximizing opportunities to grow Anthropologie’s footwear business. She is responsible for forecasting sales and managing receipts and inventory for the company’s stores and e-commerce business. She partners with buyers to build an eye-catching variety of products in the right quantities while taking trends and sales history into consideration.
“In my role, I determine how much of each style to buy and when,” she explains.
Prior to joining Anthropologie, Parker was a merchandise planner for Belk in the shoes and handbags divisions. She credits her education from the Wilson College of Textiles and the college’s frequent career fairs for getting her foot in the door at Belk and snagging her a spot in the company’s executive training program.
“When I first started the executive training program at Belk, I remember my peers asking me many times to explain the difference between a knit and a woven,” Parker says. “My education from the Wilson College truly set me apart and gave me the tools I needed to succeed.”
To learn more about Parker’s path to success and her advice for students interested in merchandise planning, read her Q&A below.
Degree B.S. Fashion and Textile Management, 2013 (Concentration: Brand Management and Marketing)
Job Title Senior Merchandise Planner, Anthropologie
Current City Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Hometown Lillington, North Carolina
Why did you choose NC State and the Wilson College of Textiles?
I grew up cheering on the Wolfpack and always knew I wanted to go to NC State. However, I originally applied to study business. I first learned about the Wilson College of Textiles when recruiters from the college visited my high school during my senior year. One of my friends actually called me out of another class to hear them speak, knowing it would be perfect for me. I quickly switched my major to fashion and textile management (FTM) with a concentration in brand management and marketing. FTM was the perfect fit for me, and it combined my love for fashion with math and business.
What activities were you involved in as an NC State student and how did they impact your experience?
As a student, I was a member of the Sigma Tau Sigma Textile Honors Society and held several leadership roles in the Phi Psi Professional Textile Fraternity. I also assisted with NC State Fashion Week in 2012 and 2013. I made great friendships through Phi Psi and also had the opportunity to travel to Auburn and Philadelphia for annual textile conferences.
What is your fondest memory of being at NC State and the Wilson College of Textiles?
I have so many great memories! Some of my favorites include studying abroad in Florence, Italy and winning the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund. As a YMA Fashion Scholarship recipient, I had the opportunity to travel to New York City for the first time ever! While there, we visited different companies including J.Crew and Ralph Lauren. I also represented NC State at the Fashion Scholarship Fund awards dinner, alongside the other winners from the Wilson College.
Who influenced you most during your time at the Wilson College of Textiles? And why or how?
Fay Gibson, who is now retired, was a great mentor to me during my time at the Wilson College of Textiles. I was able to work closely with her during NC State Fashion Week, and she advised me on my case studies for the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund. As an alumna, I’ve spoken to her classes a few times about my experiences as a planner in corporate retail.
How did your education at the Wilson College of Textiles prepare you for what you are doing today?
I gained valuable hands-on experience at the Wilson College of Textiles, which prepared me for a career in corporate retail. I learned about buying, retail math and how to manage an open-to-buy plan. These are concepts I use daily in my current role.
In what ways are you currently involved with the Wilson College of Textiles and NC State?
I am currently a member of the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council. For the past two years, I served as the chair of the council’s recruitment committee. Serving on the DYALC and helping the North Carolina Textile Foundation has been an excellent way for me to stay involved and give back to the college.
Have you been motivated to give back to the Wilson College of Textiles financially? If so, what led you to make that decision?
Fundraising is a vital initiative of the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council. Serving on the council has opened my eyes to the importance of giving back to the college, and I am happy to help make an impact.
Describe your career path.
After graduating, I began my career with Belk at their corporate headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina. I joined the executive training program, which was an opportunity I landed thanks to the Wilson College of Textiles Career Fair. I did buying and merchandise planning rotations before I accepted a role as an assistant planner. I was later promoted to a planner and held roles in the handbags and women’s shoes areas.
After five years working as a merchandise planner with Belk, I decided to pursue an opportunity with Anthropologie, which is part of URBN Inc., in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I jumped at the chance to work for a brand I love and experience a new city and state. I have been planning shoe and accessories categories for the past four years. I was recently promoted to the role of the senior planner in the shoe category, and I am excited to continue growing the shoe business at Anthro! You can view my LinkedIn page here.
What advice do you have for current Wilson College of Textiles students?
Take advantage of all the resources available to you! I made so many great connections and gained such valuable experience at the Wilson College of Textiles. I genuinely believe this set me apart from my peers when I started my career.