Friday, 24 April 2015

72 Hours In London

Hello everyone & thanks for stopping by!
For a long time I have been interested in Visual Merchandising and unfortunately where I work doesn't really have many opportunities to move up the career ladder and into that field so rather than whinge on about it, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Before Christmas I had looked into it a lot more and came across the Fashion Retail Academy in London and was very intrigued. I didn't even know there was such a thing as an academy for things like visual merchandising! How completely wrong I was! For ages I'd constantly kept going on the website and contemplating booking the 'Introduction to Visual Merchandising' course which had always stood out to me and eventually after the new year I decided to just bite the bullet and booked myself in.

For someone like me who has only ever gotten the train on her own twice in her life and never travelled/stayed away alone before, this was a pretty big deal for me. After months of mini freak outs, it turned out to not be daunting like I had created in my head. I found it really enjoyable and honestly it was good to have a few days on my own away from things back home, I think I just needed some time away and a change of scenery to gain some perspective. I feel like the mini trip boosted my self esteem too which was something I felt I'd be lacking recently, so it was worth it on that level too.

 It wasn't all just hard work though, I did manage to have a bit of time to explore so many an evening was spent walking around and taking in the sights. Of course one of the first things I did when I first arrived in London was go on a spree in Victoria's Secret, which personally was like a pre-reward for all the work I was going to do ;) (Any excuse really!) and treating myself to some tortellini from Carluccio's for dinner always goes down well with me ;)
One of my goals whilst I was here was to go and see my friend Alice perform live in Mamma Mia! at the Novello Theatre. I have known her since I was born and she's always been a close family friend and for as long as I've known her she's always wanted to perform in theatre and this has been her big break! I was so pleased to hear the news and was dying to go see her! Especially as a few occasions she's performed up north and I've been working so hadn't seen some of her performances but I was adamant to see this one especially and lucky I got too. I love Mamma Mia! anyway so I knew it would be good, but as soon as the music kicked in and the curtains opened and I'd seen she was the first one on stage I felt a sudden wash of emotions and an enormous sense of pride. I honestly could have cried right there haha! I managed to keep it together (just!) and the show was absolutely AMAZING! And I'm not just saying that because of Alice. I thought all the main characters were sooo good! They all played their parts so well and were so funny and they sang the Abba songs brilliantly! I was completely entertained throughout the whole evening, I could have sat there all night watching it over and over again. I was also fortunate to see Alice after the show briefly too which was a sweet little cherry on top of a great evening! :)

The Fashion Retail Academy

So back to the main reason why I was in London now. The FRA building from the outside looks so ordinary, I honestly would have walked straight past it if it wasn't for good ol' Google Maps, but when approaching it I noticed these incredible mannequins in the window, I had never seen anything like it before and thought they looked amazing! There was more inside too. I really liked the variety of ways the mannequins had been transformed into a piece of art, I found it really inspiring. I remember walking into the building and thinking 'Omg there's going to be tons of people and they will know everything and I'm going to feel like an amateur!' but wasn't the case at all! There was 9 of us in the class, different age ranges but everyone was pretty much on the same level. The course was for 3 days from 10am-4.30pm and included so much within that short space of time, not in a 'cramming' type way either just through really good organisation on their behalf. It was a good mixture of lectures and workshops, although it was mainly the first day where we sat the most and were talked through the history and technical terms etc and the rest of the time was little introductions to what we were doing that day before the more hands on stuff which was definitely the more fun part! I really came away knowing a lot more than I initially thought I would and a cool little certificate signed by the Dean which was sent in the post days later to say I'd attended the course as a nice memento of the great experience to keep which I really liked that they did that as I'm one of those people who loves to keep my old certificates and reports from school and old hobbies I used to have to look back on.
There is a few other courses that they have which I'm thinking of looking into for another time as I found this course really helpful and would happily venture back to learn more things from their other courses, plus it's always something additional to add to the ol' CV too and I'd happily return back to London again especially to be a full blown tourist as I didn't get a chance too on this occasion ;)

The Things I Learned
I learned about the history of visual merchandising and the technical terms that are used. I was shown store layouts and had to create a layout to match a customer scenario. I was shown the different types of mannequins and the groupings of mannequins. I also got to create my own accessory display, worked as a team in the Mock Shop where we had to create two wall displays using different items of clothing and accessories. I also had to dissemble, reassemble and dress a mannequin, then in a group choose 3 mannequins and group them together and dress them appropriately and finally create a window display where we got to choose however many mannequins we wanted, clothes for them and props.

Thanks for reading!

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