CFPCA senior leads visual merchandising guides at Carhartt retail stores

Claire Cisco, Art and Art History seniorClaire Cisco, a James Pearson Duffy Department of Art and Art History senior in her final semester for her bachelor's degree in fashion merchandising, found an opportunity to learn and grow her professional resume at Carhartt Detroit's clothing and company store.

Cisco, also minoring in business, is from the Metro Detroit area. She said going into fashion in Michigan was an affordable alternative to going to a fashion school out-of-state.

She said that in the past she "didn't want to make clothes," when it came to her future plans.

"I didn't always know I wanted to go into fashion," she said. "When I was younger I didn't know about this merchandising aspect. I always thought you could only be a fashion designer."

Cisco explained that she found her internship at Carhartt through Handshake, Wayne State University's career service tool for students, in June of 2018.

She said the internship was technically supposed to end in August of 2018, but her term was extended and she's now contracted as the retail merchandising intern for direct to consumer products.

Cisco said she now controls the personal protective equipment (PPE), fire resistant and high visibility clothing category completely and is making the buy plans and assortments for spring 2020.

"With PPE, those workers typically need their clothing right away," she said. "So if we don't have it in-store they're going to have to go somewhere else. We want to make sure we can anticipate their needs as best as possible."

"We can't carry every single product so we do planning and buying for each store," Cisco said "We work on strategy, do visual merchandising, and work with our marketing team to come up with stories for the month."

"I work with our planning team to do our buying and planning for our PPE product assortment each season," she said. "We do research and look at selling and e-commerce."

She said she also assists her manager to strategize, plan, assort products and track business performance.

Cisco said, as her internship continued, that she kick started the current visual layout project for all of Carhartt's retail stores.

"To this day all of our retail stores follow my visual guide and merchandising direction," she said. "I made a new template for our visual guides. As I've been there it's evolved and become more clean. It's been really cool seeing that evolution and walking in to see my visual merchandising come to life with my manager's help and others'."

Cisco said retail experience is a necessity for anyone aspiring to be in the fashion industry.

Before earning her position at Carhartt Cisco worked at Vera Bradley and other retail stores.

"I know it's not always the most glamorous," she said. "But I definitely think you have to have retail experience before you move on to a corporate merchandising job."

"This internship at Carhartt has brought me so much knowledge and learning, and it has been a wonderful getting to take all of my learnings from the Fashion Merchandising program and bring it to my internship and demonstrate my learnings from our program," she said. "I love the collaboration and sense of ownership I have received from this internship. It has taught me to be bold and to always be ready to evolve and adapt, especially because our goal at the end of the day is to protect our hardworking consumers."

To learn more about the Fashion Design and Merchandising program, visit

Written by: Sarah Kominek (Department of Communication, Journalism major)

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