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Keisha Holmes: “Be a Mentor and Have a Mentor”

Humility — I see a lot of entitlement in the younger generation. You have to start at the bottom, pay your dues, put your time in, and do every job there is. Constantly learning — I’ve been in this business for almost 30 years. From the sales floor to corporate. I’m still learning new ways of doing things. Team Player — It takes […]

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Humility — I see a lot of entitlement in the younger generation. You have to start at the bottom, pay your dues, put your time in, and do every job there is.

Constantly learning — I’ve been in this business for almost 30 years. From the sales floor to corporate. I’m still learning new ways of doing things.

Team Player — It takes a village to bring a style from design to tangible sales. Support each person in their role & they’ll want to execute for you.

Thick Skin — don’t take things super personal. Most things are about the bottom line, so think bigger picture.

Be a Mentor and Have a Mentor — I think it’s important to pass on everything you can to your team. Empower them to make big decisions. My former bosses are still my friends and mentors to this day.


As part of our series about the 5 things you need to succeed in the fashion industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Keisha Holmes, who is the Merchandise Manager of Curvy Sense.


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

I stumbled into fashion. I was going to school in the medical field & needed a part-time job. My neighbor managed the local Frederick’s of Hollywood and hired me as a sales associate.

I instantly fell in love and started researching the fashion industry and what jobs were possible. I immediately switched careers & enrolled in the Fashion Merchandising program.

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

When I worked at Frederick’s, a customer made the mistake of telling me he was purchasing a gift for his wife and his mistress.

Boy did he regret that decision. Let’s just say he left the store without a gift for either one!

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?

See the above story. My manager wasn’t too happy with me. I got a stern talking to about customer service and to not take things personally.

I’ve always been very good with people. So, I just learned how to turn situations around and keep it moving.

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

Our ability to move quickly because of our amazing team. We have the most dedicated pattern makers, sewers, warehouse team that just brings the designs to life.

In my previous buying positions, there’s a lot of corporate hoops to jump through. Here at Curvy Sense, we can run with just about anything & make it happen.

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

You have to be passionate about what you do. Retail and fashion have its ups and downs like every other industry. Find what fulfills you and remember why you chose fashion, to begin with.

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

This ties into the previous question about not getting burned out. I’m at my best when I’m giving back to the community.

I thought about ways to combine my love of fashion and volunteering. I became a stylist for Dress for Success, which helps women transition back into the workforce.

It brings me to tears every time I help dress a woman and she turns to see herself in the mirror for the first time. They light up seeing themselves in a power suit or a great dress.

There’s something about walking into that interview or first day on the job when you look your best!

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

Life lesson: Something my mother taught me at a young age. It’s not what you say, but how you say it. Your approach to any situation will change the outcome.

Career lesson: Don’t burn bridges in this industry. Fashion is very small, especially in Los Angeles. The co-worker, boss, vendor relationship is very important.

It comes full circle and there’s definitely 6 degrees of separation. You will cross paths with people from the past all the time. You want to be the person they remember, in a positive way!

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?

Curvy Sense had a booth at the Curvy Con (a plus size convention and marketplace in NYC). The designer Tracy Reese was on one of the panels. She’s on the board of the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America).

She mentioned they were working on a new curriculum for fashion students to implement pattern making for plus sizes. You don’t really learn that in school. How to make the best fit for a body that doesn’t look like a mannequin.

I thought that was amazing! Also, I’m hearing talk about anti-viral fabric for clothing. I’ve yet to see it but it could be interesting buying a dress that will help protect you from viruses.

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

  1. Humility — I see a lot of entitlement in the younger generation. You have to start at the bottom, pay your dues, put your time in, and do every job there is.
  2. Constantly learning — I’ve been in this business for almost 30 years. From the sales floor to corporate. I’m still learning new ways of doing things.
  3. Team Player — It takes a village to bring a style from design to tangible sales. Support each person in their role & they’ll want to execute for you.
  4. Thick Skin — don’t take things super personal. Most things are about the bottom line, so think bigger picture.
  5. Be a Mentor and Have a Mentor — I think it’s important to pass on everything you can to your team. Empower them to make big decisions. My former bosses are still my friends and mentors to this day.

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

DIVERSITY & INCLUSIVITY: We happen to be in a niche market of plus sizes. But we’re moving toward an inclusive size range. For so long, it’s been separated. We’re moving towards a “fashion for all” type of mentality.

And not just sizes, marketing has already begun to shift into a more diverse direction. Not just fashion either. You see it in TV commercials, movies, and magazines. Ads with multi-cultural families & all sizes. It’s great to see our reality staring back at us.

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. 🙂

Oh my! What a big question. There are so many needs that would bring good things to people.

It pains me that people go hungry every night. There is no shortage of food. I just wish we were able to cut through all the red tape to feed families from restaurants, grocery stores, etc.

Financial literacy is extremely important. Imagine leveling the playing field for all people.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram & Pinterest at Curvy Sense.

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