354MC Professional Photographic Portfolio – Networking Opportunity at Kleinfeld Bridal, New York
On Saturday 21st March 2015 I travelled to New York for a weeklong Photography trip with the University, where we spent time meeting different practitioners (including Elinor Carucci and Susan Bright), visiting a variety of exhibitions, and generally exploring the city. On our last day my course mate, Ella Parkinson, and I decided to visit Kleinfeld Bridal (which is the host of the American Wedding Dress show called “Say Yes to the Dress”). We thought that it would provide us with a good opportunity to network with relevant contacts for our future career plans in the wedding industry, whilst also gaining a greater understanding of this specific trade. Below you will therefore be able to find a record of our experience at Kleinfeld’s, along with a brief reflection and photographs from the trip:
The Kleinfeld Experience:
On our arrival to Kleinfeld’s we were greeted by the receptionist, and after asking us whether we were there for a fitting, I explained the reason for our visit (including that we were over from England and that we were massive fans of the show). After a having a lovely, brief, conversation the receptionist then told us that we could look around the lobby but, unfortunately, due to the fact that we hadn’t booked an appointment, we couldn’t actually go into the main bridal floor and instead suggested that we could peer round the corner as long as we stayed on the red carpet!
After having a look round the lobby, and straining our necks to try and see as much of the bridal floor as we could, I then went over to the receptionist to ask whether Randy Fenoli was in (the Fashion Director at Kleinfeld who is my inspiration for the passion that I have gained surrounding Bridal Stores), to see if I could meet and network with him. Sharing her sincerest apologies, the receptionist then said that he wasn’t in and explained that he usually only goes to the store for the filming of “Say Yes to the Dress”. After having this conversation, the receptionist then told us that we could go downstairs, towards the alterations department, in order to look around the jewelry and shoe section that Kleinfeld offers.
Offering me the opportunity to gain an understanding of the different sections included in a Bridal Store (which will be useful in conjunction with the beginning of my career plan that involves me working in a Bridal Boutique), whilst looking around this particular section, we were able to meet Maria Elena (a Jewelry Designer who works for Kleinfeld) and Vera Skenderis (Kleinfeld’s Alterations Manager). Now, although the conversations that we had with these two inspirational individuals where relatively brief, and verged more on the chatty side of networking, Maria told us that she also works in London for bridal designer Caroline Castigliano (which offered me a possible networking link back in the UK), whilst Vera provided us with inspirational advice about doing whatever makes us happy.
Once we had finished chatting to the wonderful ladies downstairs (and trying on as much jewelry as we could!) we then went back upstairs where the receptionist surprised us with a very speedy, five-minute tour of the bridal floor (which, as suggested previously, isn’t something that they usually do!). Whilst walking around this particular section, looking at the huge variety of designer bridal dresses they had to offer (including Pnina Tornai’s dresses – one of my favourite designers!), we also interacted with one of the consultants from the show, Dianne, her client, and her clients entourage, which allowed me to gain an understanding of the consultant’s responsibilities and behavior during a bridal appointment.
Once we had experienced this incredible special opportunity, we then headed back to the lobby with the receptionist (who had made it all possible) where we spent time having a conversation with her, explaining how the show triggered my passion for the industry and my choice for my future career path (including how I am planning on applying for different jobs within a variety of bridal stores). She then shared with us that this was exactly what she did after feeling that a career change was in order, and provided me with advice saying most stores look for previous retail experience and a passion and desire for the wedding industry (which I, fortunately, have).
Before we left the store, Ella and I then decided to give the wonderful receptionist our business cards. However, due to my excitement, I soon realized after the experience that I didn’t actually provide the receptionist with my intentions for leaving it (including getting in contact with people for more information about the industry and possible internship opportunities over the summer). Since the trip, I have therefore taken the time to use my professional social media accounts to get in contact with Kleinfeld’s thanking them for the wonderful opportunity and providing them with hints to my intentions.
Please note that after this slight mistake on my end, I then talked to my lecturer Caroline Molloy about contacting them through social media which is where she suggested that I could not only use this as a part of my 354MC Professional Photographic Portfolio Easter Networking Task, but she also offered me advice about changing my brand identity (through the use of my business cards and social media accounts). These changes included the incorporation of photos depicting items relating to weddings (including wedding bouquets and jewelry), my name and contact details, and, on my social media accounts, what I am now aspiring to do.
A Brief Reflection:
Looking back at the incredible experience that the staff at Kleinfeld’s offered Ella and I, I seriously cannot thank them enough. They were absolutely wonderful and, by giving us the opportunity to experience the store in all of it’s beauty, treating us like the Kleinfeld Bride’s we wished we were, they truly helped to make our amazing trip to New York better than I ever expected. Having the opportunity to talk and network with the individuals from the industry, allowing me to gain knowledge surrounding my dream job, and experiencing the excellent customer service that Kleinfeld’s is known for, has just made me even more passionate about the future career path that I have chosen to follow.
Thank you Kleinfeld Bridal x