Inside New York Market Week
Updated: Aug 17, 2020
My day started at 6am. The dress code was strictly black, which was a little disappointing. I had just bought a beautiful, chiffon, navy jumpsuit with understated earrings, but as of last week, the dress code was changed to boring old black. I take that back. Black is timeless and oozes of possibilities, but nevertheless, I was bitter. Still, I made it work. I slipped on a pair of flared black dress pants with a small ruffle at the ankle with a high-necked blouse, stamped with scribble-like designs. I had trouble buttoning the top three buttons in the back. I finished the look with a plum lip - I had to bring in a little color.
I hopped on the Q train for six stops to 14th St-Herald Square. A short walk later, I was at the hotel. The interior was dark with deep wood floors and leather chairs accompanied by small tables stacked with classic books. It felt like a secluded ski resort in Aspen or Vermont. I was exactly 15 minutes early and was comfortable with that. My phone buzzed right as that thought fluttered away - more like disintegrated after I read the message. Natalie, the head of Global Management for Haney and woman I would be working under, was running 45 minutes late; that meant I had an hour to waste. I sat down in the lobby and was greeted by a waiter 15 minutes later. I ordered some oatmeal and coffee for $30. That’s New York. As the food and coffee came to my table, I felt a soft but meaningful tap on my shoulder.
“Brianna?” the 5’1 Latina woman with silky long black hair and full lips asked.
“Yes! Sorry, I thought you said you were going to be 45 minutes late.”
“Oh, that’s my fault,” Natalie admitted. She told me to take my time eating and hale the elevator to the 10th-floor penthouse. I needed a special key to access the floor, so she told me to ask the front desk. I scarfed down my food and took my coffee to go. I knocked on the penthouse door and Natalie swung it open. She had her shoes kicked off and shirt untucked. I showed a bit of a smile and felt a little relief from the comedic and dare I say relatable scene. I helped her organize the racks of clothing and merchandise the products appropriately. She told me Mary Alice, the designer and owner of the company, was running late from yoga class. I sat down and helped revise the line sheets. A short 20 minutes later, a tall blond woman opened the door. Her sweaty sparkle told me it must be Mary Alice. She saw me sitting and apologized for making me wait.
“You’re early! I thought we said 10. It’s only 9:15! I look a mess. I’m sorry!” She darted her eyes at Natalie. I could have sworn she said 8:30am, I thought.
“Oh, it’s no problem. Nice to meet you!” I replied. I brushed off the oddness of her remark. She asked me how business was and a new layer of confusion sank in. Natalie caught on.
“Oh, Mary Alice this is Brianna, our intern. The buyer from Neiman isn’t coming until 10.”
Relieved, Mary Alice said, “Oh! I thought you were the buyer!” I let out a little giggle. I was honored. She continued, “I don’t care how I look around you!” She let it out without hesitation. I genuinely laughed at her honesty and continued editing the line sheets.
Mary Alice rearranged the clothing I had set up. This is her brand, I thought. This is her name, her vision, her designs on the line, so she better arrange the collection in the order she felt best fit.
She turned to me and said, “I need to ask you a giant favor, honey. I need you to go get a candle - one that smells like Christmas.” I recalled going to Anthropologie a few days earlier on Black Friday and smelling some festive candles. A quick search on my iPhone gave me directions to a location half a mile away and I told her I’d be right back. She handed me the company credit card and I was off.
I was happy I wore booties and not heels. I found a pine-scented candle in an intricate gold geometric casing, a shape similar to that of a beehive. I was a block away from the hotel when I received a message from Natalie: “please pick me up some heel inserts. My feet are killing me! Thx!!” There was a DSW across from Anthropologie. I retraced my steps and charged the inserts on the company card. I ran back to the hotel, so I wouldn’t miss another appointment. I grabbed some matches from the front desk before heading upstairs.
I quietly made my way into the room, an appointment already in full swing. I walked to the back room where the model was dressing.
Natalie whispered, “dress the model and send her out.” She then slipped out of the room and into the main area where the buyers were meeting with Mary Alice. I peeked my eye out the crack of the door. Mary Alice was a selling queen. She was so relaxed and words flowed smoothly into the air. I turned around and there was a 5’11, beautiful brunette standing in front of me. She stared at me, assuming I knew what to dress her in. A moment later, as if Mary Alice heard my thought, she reached through the door’s opening and handed me a hanger with a beautiful red sequenced gown dangling off the edges.
I quickly dressed the model but forgot to buckle the hook-and-eye on the side so the dress had an ill-fit. I quickly fixed my mistake and straightened the dress up before sending the model, Laura, out.
We met with maybe ten specialty boutiques and luxury department stores over the next two days. In between appointments, I did everything from conducting a full-fledged photoshoot of the model wearing Spring dresses in the December cold to taking cappuccino orders from the head buyers of Saks. Nothing was off-limits, and I loved every second of it. I might not have been the one closing a big sale, but I was in a penthouse in New York City serving mimosas to women I aspired to be. And for me, that was enough. --