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Ever wondered what fashion recruiters — the people who connect the best talent to the biggest fashion houses — get up to on a normal day? This week we speak to Emma Davidson, the Managing Director of fashion recruitment company Denza, specialists in entry-level roles, to understand what her job involves.
Being part of a company established over 30 years ago, Denza have many long-standing relationships with fashion houses all over the world. It’s a testing job but getting to know candidates from graduation is really rewarding; to follow them throughout their career and be part of their fashion journey. Emma shares a day in the life with GFW!
8.30am: My job means I have to hang on to a lot of confidential information. Sometimes I can’t even share things with my team, so I speak to candidates and clients from home. Fingers crossed I have time to go Cricks Corner the best coffee shop in north London for breakfast and coffee. Otherwise it is straight to work.
10:30am: I usually take appointments in the morning with senior candidates who are in town. I always prefer to meet candidates informally. Obviously I need to update myself with a candidates career, work aspirations and portfolios.
But more importantly I like to learn about our candidates as individuals — what inspires them, what they find funny, what pets they have, what they were into as teenagers — it might seem irrelevant but there are all sorts of clues revealed for making a successful placement. Candidates are all different as are company structures and cultures. So my job is not just picking who has the best work for a role, but also who I think would click in a company’s environment. We meet every candidate we present for a search to a client.
11.30am: Finally I get to the office and catch up with the team. Faye Mitchell, our Head of Search and I go through what she has set for the team for the day. We are also always brain storming over what we need to do next. A common topic is what have been the most common roles clients ask us to fill? Do we have enough candidates who fit this kind of profile for the next 12 months? Do we need to pool more and where are those candidates now?
This helps us focus what universities we connect with, which countries to visit to meet new candidates and update with current candidates. This then informs us how to plan our calendar for shows, juries, trips. The whole team travels extensively — it’s the only way to understand the global fashion industry and everything it encompasses: design processes, cultural influence, retail experiences, company structures. And if you are a naturally curious person there is always something new to learn.
12pm: We cover so many different areas – design for fashion, knitwear, bags, shoes, textiles, homeware, eyewear, lingerie, activewear, denim – you name it. We also work on product development, production, studio management, pattern cutting, technical. There are so many different jobs in the fashion industry. Assisting our international clients find the best person for their team from our diverse candidates takes the rest of the day.
Along with answering emails, taking calls, updating clients, checking in with the team, mentoring grads, somewhere lunch comes in, speaking to the press, reviewing budgets, submitting tax returns and working on my own confidential searches. Every plan I make I need to be flexible. I never know if at the last minute I have to travel overseas to meet a client or see a show or who the person is going to be on the end of the phone will be.
6pm: By the end of the day, it has usually quietened down as the team gradually go home. I work later to speak to people in the US because of the time difference. I also use this time for reading through contracts which I need peace to do, checking through the teams work for the day and booking any travel that I am planning for myself.
8.30pm: Recruitment is actually getting involved in changing someone’s life so being open is essential. It can be a little exhausting and I need quiet time. So outside of the office I like to be at home, watching crime shows with dinner and talk to my cats. Although even then, I never know who is going to WhatsApp me or Instamessage with a new search. There is always something going on!