Yesterday’s Huffington Post interview with Erin Kleinberg is short and super sweet. I love her tips on succeeding in fashion, in particular the parts about being nice and doing time in retail.
I hate to admit it, but it hasn’t always been easy for me to be nice. I’ve worked in many jobs in the service industry including as a waitress and barista, and sometimes I wanted to tell my customers to shove it. Especially the caffeine addicted coffee people! There was one guy who came in every day and barked his order like a Marine colonel: LARGE DOUBLE CAP LOW FAT NO FOAM! No please, no thank you, just the tiny cafe filled with his bass vocals. After a couple
weeks days I really could not muster a smile for this guy. As a waitress, I was hopeless. My customers were as miserable as I was and my attitude sucked.
I also worked in retail, where you had to at least paste a fake smile on your face. I tried to be genuinely happy—after a 12-year career in tech and science journalism I was working in fashion! I learned quickly that this was not my place in the industry. Bossy, cranky shopper vibes and intensely sore feet and legs were not my jam.
I think it was my job as an administrative assistant that taught me that you get farther, faster by being nice—genuinely nice. I still have a troublesome weakness for road rage, but when it comes to work, I am nice (I swear!). It has a lot to do with the fact that I now like what I’m doing.
So I get what Ms. Kleinberg is saying—being nice has major perks, and working in retail is important, if only to figure out that you hate it.