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Jessica Ramsden: “Take a step back and find efficiencies where you can”

I’ve heard some horror stories from people who have been victims of bullying in this industry and it’s a highly competitive and pressurized place to be. At the same time, some of the strongest and longest friendships I’ve seen have been built here. So, I think that it’s important to show people empathy, treat people with […]


I’ve heard some horror stories from people who have been victims of bullying in this industry and it’s a highly competitive and pressurized place to be.

At the same time, some of the strongest and longest friendships I’ve seen have been built here. So, I think that it’s important to show people empathy, treat people with respect and understand that we all have our own battles to fight.

One of my colleagues is the nicest, kindest, most popular person I have met — not popular in a mean kid way, but popular in a “people feel good when they’re around him” way. He built a very successful career in being pleasant and open to the people he meets through work.


As part of our series about the 5 things you need to succeed in the fashion industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jessica Ramsden. She has worked in marketplace and retail technology for over 10 years. She’s launched international offices for startups, helped shape strategy for brick and mortar retail, consulted for marketplace businesses and is now working for one of the most exciting start-ups in fashion tech.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I never set out on a path to work in fashion or tech; I actually studied architecture at university. Upon completing the first degree (of three parts) I realized it wasn’t for me but was at a bit of a loss as to what I did want.

I wanted to utilize the degree I had, and also recognized the potential for career growth in technology ten years ago, so I took an internship at a retail tech/ interior design company in London.

I’ve been exposed to design and buying since that first internship, in a number of different ways — fashion and interiors are naturally intertwined. Working alongside buying teams as well as directly with brands means I’ve developed a good understanding of what both need to operate and become successful.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started?

This is a hard one! The most interesting part of my jobs has always been the people and the learning curve, so trying to pick one story would be nearly impossible. But, Geri Halliwell of the Spice Girls and Claudia Schiffer were both regular visitors to my first office in London.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

As they always do, the mistakes I’ve made felt pretty bad at the time — like the end of the world, or at least my job. I’m sure we’ve all had that moment where someone trusted us to do something and we screwed it up. That happened when I was tasked with creating a year-end business review. My boss didn’t catch the glaring contradiction in the numbers until he was presenting it in front of a company of 200 people — fortunately, those people (including my boss) had a sense of humor about it…or, at least enough not to fire me!

That was mortifying for us both, so it was an important lesson for me. If you don’t know how to do something, ask for help!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

My companyis completely changing the way that retailers and fashion brands do business.

We work with the leading brands in the business — iconic department stores, fashion houses, and household name labels — who have worked with very manual and inefficient processes for so long, without the right tools to help them catch up to the tech-forward world we now live in. You may be surprised to learn that some of the largest fashion companies that operate throughout the world still take orders using pencil, paper and excel and don’t have access to live inventory levels — we help them move away from this to serve their customers much, much faster and more accurately.

We digitize the wholesale process for these brands, from merchandising through planning, sales and follow up — with live product data and inventory. We have a network of retailers that use our technology to plan assortments and power market appointments, in turn creating smarter buys, speeding up the ordering process by weeks and getting clothes onto the shop floor faster.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Take a step back and find efficiencies where you can.

I’ve seen people work hard, in a very chaotic way, without seeking easier ways to do things because they’re under pressure. Senior management should carve out time to find ways to make their base processes more “machine-like”, therefore freeing up their people to do what they’re good at (selling and building!).

However, irrelevant of where you are in the company you can create a better work/life balance for yourself by identifying priorities, then leveraging shortcuts that achieve the same end goal, in fewer steps than it took before. There are lots of free online widgets and time management tools that you can add to your email account or browser that will really help — for example, Boomerang, Monday, Skrapp and Streak.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I can’t say that I’ve brought goodness to the world, that’s a bold claim!

However, I definitely subscribe to the idea that people will enjoy their roles more, work harder and perform better if you spend time with them, coach them and empower them. Micromanagement is the quickest way to make someone want to leave their job, in my opinion… and if they need that level of management then perhaps it’s best for you both to part ways.

In my job, I do my very best to trust those who work with and for me, because when everyone feels good about their responsibilities and the faith those around them have placed in them, it’s a much happier place to go to work every day. And it frees everyone else up to do more good work.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?

I was once told I was too emotional which isn’t a great thing to hear. So, I try to remember that “we’re not saving lives here!” and take some time to calm my feelings and think about how to respond to situations.

Most issues you’ll face on a daily basis are best tackled by pausing before acting immediately and urgently. The more you let negative emotion, pressure, and anxiety dictate your decisions, the less likely they’ll be the right ones and the less enjoyable your job will be in the long run.

Do you see any fascinating developments emerging over the next few years in the fashion industry that you are excited about? Can you tell us about that?

I’ve seen a lot of brands start to adopt sustainable practices and materials to reduce their carbon footprint and impact on the world. I’m optimistic that this will only continue to build and honestly, that fast fashion will become a thing of the past.

I think this is not just exciting, but extremely urgent.

What are your “Top 5 Things Needed to Succeed in the Fashion Industry”. Please share a story or example for each.

1. Empathy

I’ve heard some horror stories from people who have been victims of bullying in this industry and it’s a highly competitive and pressurized place to be.

At the same time, some of the strongest and longest friendships I’ve seen have been built here. So, I think that it’s important to show people empathy, treat people with respect and understand that we all have our own battles to fight.

One of my colleagues is the nicest, kindest, most popular person I have met — not popular in a mean kid way, but popular in a “people feel good when they’re around him” way. He built a very successful career in being pleasant and open to the people he meets through work.

2. Work ethic and drive

– You’re going to have to work hard to get to where you want.

3. Network

– Try and build a network and learn from other people at different brands. A mentor is a great person to lean on and learn from.

4. A plan

– Where do you want to be and how do you want to get there?

There don’t seem to be many flat company structures so having clarity on how you want to get to the next step in your career is important. I’ve been fortunate to have worked in very flat companies and I loved the feeling of autonomy and empowerment to impact decisions. If you don’t have that luxury, make sure you’re prepared to work hard in the right way in order to make step changes.

5. Sense of humor and personability

– Your relationships will make a huge difference in how you feel about your job and how others want to do business with you.

Every industry constantly evolves and seeks improvement. How do you think the fashion industry can improve itself? Can you give an example?

Again, we need less waste and impact on the world. Today 7–12% of landfill is clothing and 10% of global carbon emissions are generated by the fashion industry.

I know that brands and retailers are taking steps to improve the way they operate through different business models and technology.

This means that they’ll have more insight into what they’re selling, what they should buy and how to efficiently service customers. In turn, this will hopefully reduce the wastage the industry contributes to as well as making everyone’s lives easier.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Don’t buy from Amazon and try and support brands with a story and a purpose.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can’t, I’m private!

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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