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At first glance, Lily Britt ’16 might seem like the typical college student. She took a part-time job at American Eagle Outfitters, she pores over fashion magazines, and she dreams of living in a big city, far from home. The difference is, after a summer internship with a French fashion company in 2013, this 19-year-old double major in business management and French studies is already making plans for a second summer internship in fashion (this one in New York or Miami), and a semester abroad in Hong Kong, before returning to Lille for a paid internship with Pimkie.
At the age of 16, Lily Britt, president of her high school French Club and the Culinary Arts Club, left her home in Florida to spend 11 months as a Rotary Youth Exchange student in Lille, France—where she fell in love. The target of her affection? All things French: the language, the people, the culture, the food.
As a high school exchange student, Britt lived with three families in Lille; her second host mom just happened to work as the CEO at Pimkie. Britt compares the French brand to H&M and Forever 21. “The typical customer is aged 18-25, and the clothes are mix-and-match, so women can create their own unique style,” says Britt.
Through her French connection, Britt secured a summer internship at Pimkie in Lille, the flagship store for a brand that has expanded into Germany, Spain, Italy, and a dozen other countries throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. In addition to working on the retail side of the company, Britt developed a fashion blog (in French), conducted interviews with employees, and wrote reports about her experience, earning academic credit for her internship.
“On one occasion, several Pimkie executives visited the store, which is the biggest and most important [Pimkie] store in France,” Britt recalls. “One of the executives for textile productions picked up my American accent, noting ‘I didn’t know we had international interns!’ We struck up a conversation, and I learned that she had been a buyer for 15 years. I told her that I was interested in that aspect of the business, and if there was ever a spot for someone like me, I’d definitely be interested.”
True to form, Britt followed up on the lead, talked to a recruiter, and made tentative plans for a three-months-paid internship as a buyer’s assistant for the summer of 2015.
In the meantime, she intends to learn as much as she can about the fashion industry and will spend the Fall 2014 semester at Linghan University in Hong Kong—one of the world’s best cities for fashion and international trade.
“I can see myself working in fashion,” says Britt, “and a buyer position is so appealing because I love to travel.”
It’s safe to say she’ll be traveling in style.