If you have been by the Short North store recently, you may have noticed some changes inside!
We have been fortunate this semester to have two Visual Display interns from Ohio State University. Kaitlyn (left) and Taylor (right) come to us from the Fashion and Retail Studies Department. Both interns chose Global Gifts as their site for course credit during the Spring Semester of 2016.
Under the direction of Store Manager, Alissa Head, the interns have dramatically improved the layout of the store. "The purpose of this project was to create more cohesive sections of the store," said Alissa. "The vision was to create zones where our beautiful, handmade products could be shopped together by function. The goal was for the overall shopping experience to make more sense."
It sounds like a simple idea, but was challenging to create on the shop floor. With so many different items, each with its own fair trade story, showing every product at its best can provide a challenge. "This was definitely a collaborative project. Kaitlyn and Taylor both had strong ideas about certain things, and I let them take the lead in those areas," said Alissa.
Kaitlyn, a Senior at Ohio State, says, "I was very excited when Alissa told me that she wanted to execute a total floor shift in the store. It felt like a project that had my name all over it and I couldn’t wait to get started."
Kaitlyn, who is pursuing a degree in Fashion Retail Studies, felt she could combine her passion for interior design with retail, maybe designing retail spaces. "I began thinking about internships that would help me achieve my goals and immediately knew I wanted to work in the Short North because of its artistic environment and boutique shopping style. I found a posting online from Global Gifts stating that they were looking for a visual display intern, and the position sounded perfect. I’d been in the store a few times, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn about working with a variety of product types and fair trade. I reached out to Alissa right away to ask if I could volunteer to work a few hours a week for her. Several months later, I feel like I’ve gotten very lucky with my first internship experience. It has been everything I expected and more, and it has really helped me to narrow down my career interests."
Taylor, also a Senior at Ohio State, is originally from Dayton, OH. She is pursuing a degree in Fashion Retail Studies with a Minor in Business, and hopes to work in retail merchandising after graduation. Taylor says she had never heard of Fair Trade before this internship. "Fair Trade can be difficult to explain to customers, and merchandising the products can be overwhelming because everything is so different. This has been a challenging but rewarding experience for me."
Taylor's merchandising ability is a perfect complement to Kaitlyn's focus on design. As Kaitlyn says, "Taylor has been such a helpful teammate. As our task comes to a close, I am very happy with all of the positive changes I’m seeing throughout the store and I really think that we’ve achieved our goal. Even customers have mentioned they appreciate the improvements— which is so wonderful to hear!"
These improvements support the mission of Global Gifts in a big way, noted Alissa. "There is more of an emphasis on Visual Display in the store, which helps tell the story of fair trade. The better we can educate our customers in the retail marketplace, the more fair trade artisans we can support. And that is ultimately our goal as a non-profit, fair trade organization."