Just a few years ago, Anastasia Cunningham was running Fashion Club meetings at The Woodlands College Park High School in Texas. She now has degrees in Merchandise Product Development and International Manufacturing & Product Development from FIDM, and for the past 10 weeks she’s been interning at Anthropologie’s headquarters in Pennsylvania; out of 6,000 applicants, only 70 were accepted! We caught up with her to find out more about her journey.
Tell us a little about yourself: I am from Texas and went to the FIDM San Diego campus right after I finished high school. I earned my Merchandise Product Development degree in 2017 and continued with IMPD, one of my greatest accomplishments. I got to work with an amazing group of ladies and created a line with Converse. I am currently an intern for URBN at Anthropologie in Pennsylvania working as the production intern in the home department, specifically tabletop which includes table linens, glassware, flatware, serve ware, dinnerware, and gadgets.
Any advice for Fashion Club Presidents? Enjoy high school! I know it sounds cliche but in any stage in your life I encourage you to find the joyful parts of it. Invest really deeply in a few things rather than spreading yourself too thin. Also, don’t allow yourself to pinhole your interests; try new things and go new places. I am still trying to find my balance but it is a challenge I enjoy.
Tell us about your internship at Anthro Home: It’s different every day. I work on the tabletop production team and Home wholesale team. Although not new to URBN (the parent company) because of Free People’s massive wholesale business, wholesale is new to Anthropologie—they just launched their wholesale line in Nordstrom this spring. It is really exciting to be part of a new division in the company.
Paid or unpaid? My internship is paid, which is amazing, and we get to take advantage of the employee discounts for the summer!
Tell us about the location: The Home office is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in an old Navy Yard. The campus is so amazing! All the buildings used to function as either gyms or workshops or storage for the Navy. Due to this the environment is just what you would expect from URBN. We are not held up in some stuffy office; we are in an open concept work environment. Everyone has an open door policy—mainly because no one has a door. Interns get their own desks and get to be creative in decorating it. My desk is pretty simple but mainly because I spent my desk decorating time doting on the dog that sits next to me. Yes, URBN is dog friendly and even has a dog park.
What do you do? I work directly on the production, sourcing, and technical design team. I work cross functionally with the design, product development, and buying teams to carry out purchase orders. I communicate with overseas vendors tracking samples and managing customs descriptions. I organize WIPs, PO Handoff, and line sheets in Excel and Tradestone (PLM system). Accuracy when communicating with vendors has been an important learning lesson for me. You have to be exact when explaining what you want fixed in an amendment. Our vendors are great about asking for explanations when need be, but it saves time to take a minute to over explain what you want rather than halting production because the information was unclear. I have also been able to learn all about different techniques and testing requirements with in Home as a product category (example: plates have to be tested for food safety).
Tell us something not many people know about URBN internships: One amazing thing about the URBN internships are the intern events! I was able to visit the URBN Distribution Center and attend Coffee Chats with higher-ups in the company. Just in the last two weeks I was able to sit down with BOTH the presidents of Anthropologie, Hillary Super and Andrew Carnie. The other interns and I were able to ask any question we liked and get advice from amazing and thoughtful leaders. I also have been able to have one-on-one informational interviews with other people in the company. Some are set up through my amazing manager and others purely through starting convos with people. The internship lasts 10 week and so far I have had such an amazing and educational experience.
How do you feel FIDM prepared you for what you are doing now? I could talk for a long time about how FIDM has prepared me, I could get in to all the definitions, lessons and information I learned in my classes but I will try to keep it simple. I think my global trade and negotiation classes I had in IMPD with Amanda Starling are probably the most relevant to my current position. Even my Introduction to Product Development class is one I think of a lot. I think just as important are the soft skills I learned. FIDM’s fast paced environment has definitely helped me juggle all the things I have to get done by the end of the day. Getting used to working in groups and communicating my ideas has been a huge advantage. You might not love when you get assigned a group project but the hard truth is most jobs are just one big group project, especially in product development. I mean this in an encouraging way; it really is something special to take someone’s idea and bring it to life as a team.
Any advice for someone considering studying Merchandise Product Development or IMPD at FIDM? If you have a passion for taking a concept and turning it into something tangible, you will love Product Development. There are so many opportunities in the industry for product developers and FIDM is one of the only schools that specializes in it.
What’s next? I actually just found out I got a new internship in Dallas working on the Fossil Women’s Watches Product Development team!
Follow Anastasia on Instagram @anachristy.