I worked for The Big Fancy almost two years prior to my transfer to White Plains. I started as an accessories girl and was awarded their equivalent of employee of the month for exceeding my commission sales goals for two quarters in a row. Working under an incredibly lazy manager, and with co-workers that included a bully and new hires that took an instant dislike to me (not completely their fault), I applied for a management position at one of their new off-price stores that was due to open down the street.
It was probably one of the worst decisions I had made at the time. My new manager, who I had nicknamed Tall Hot Blonde or THB for short, was a psycho that loved berating me in public. She would yell at me over the most obscure things, and even after the matter was settled, she would continue yelling until she ran out of steam.
The first time she went off on me was after our first opening event. The store was opened for employees only, and towards the end of the night myself and another assistant manager were confused over the closing procedures, and didn’t know if we could leave. She yelled at me over it right in front of the fine jewelry counter where the entire store could hear. The store manager cut in to let her know they could hear her from the other side of the store, and she still kept going.
I was between a rock an a hard place. The store manager begged me to be patient and let her deal with the issue, and not wanting to lose my job, I cried. I cried a lot. It was either crying or punching THB in the face. She was also a shitty leader. She refused to promote one of the members of my team to the watch specialist position simply because, and waited until her preferred candidate asked about the position and pretty much handed it to her. This was a clear abuse of power and I found myself time and time again, protecting certain employees from her negative feedback. I strongly believed, and still do, that it was about looks. If you were pretty and cute, someone she’d have a beer with, she loved you. If you weren’t, you were either invisible or on her shit list.
Finally, THB was finally fired for once again yelling at someone else on one of my days off, this time the human resource manager, after she had already been put on final notice and had been recommended to be fired by the district manager for her temper. The story that went around the store was that Rory, err, THB was fired for complaining over the loss of staff hours. That wasn’t it. That bitch is a fucking psycho. Soon after she was gone people started coming forward with their own stories of abuse, and while some people missed her dearly, most notably the prettiest, youngest girls on the crew, the entire management team was glad she was gone.
My new manager wasn’t much of an improvement. She had a habit of throwing around backhanded insults and claiming she was only joking when people took offense. And for the most part she was deadpan and dry. We had issues communicating. Didn’t help that she had a habit of lying to me. I remember one time I had been working all day pretty much by myself and needed to go on my break, so I went to the back to look for her. She walked in the building that very moment and told me that she had been looking for me. Another assistant manager who is a friend of mine saw the whole thing and raised an eyebrow so high it disappeared into her hair line.
During that time I had also gotten into a car accident right outside of the mall. I jackknifed someone who ran a red light and the front end of my car was completely destroyed. We were both fine, but I had issues trying to get the police department to release the police report to the insurance company, and had to go pick it up myself. Tara was pissed because I asked to leave, and even more pissed that I didn’t come back later that day. I had offered to return, but she had been so focused on giving me grief for leaving that we never actually agreed on anything. She felt that it was a dick move on my behalf because she had been in charge of the store that night, never mind the many times she had scheduled me to be alone on nights I was in charge and did nothing about it. To schedule your assistant to work with you and then to not return the favor is a major dick move.
Tara went on vacation and I managed the department for over a week. When she came back, I wrote her an email recap to get her up to speed. I asked her about it a couple of days later, and she complained that it was super long and she had not read it. And yet, a couple of weeks later, during one of our very lasts conversations, she told me that she felt I had given up on my job and that I was super emotional (BECAUSE NO PUNCHING). I busted my ass for her and saw absolutely no acknowledgement for my work, so when it came for me to transfer to another store, I took the first opportunity I could to get the hell out of there.
I was very excited to work on commission again and did everything to prepare for the move. This was supposed to be a promotion of sorts: I would be selling high-end designer clothes at a store that catered to customers on the Connecticut gold coast. When I interviewed with my new manager Karolyn, a taller, even hotter blonde, she assured me that the customer was there, but due to the high turnover, the didn’t have a contact or “go to” person, and assured me that with some hard work, I could be it. I happily accepted the challenge and changed my life for it.
I had just lost a bunch of weight and bought a new wardrobe fit to sell designer clothes, mostly black and fitted. I also got all my checkups, went to the dentist three times in a week to fill some old cavities, went to the gyno (on one of the same days I went to the dentist, not fun) and got my car a tuneup and new tires since I would be driving a lot more.
I also researched some of the brands I would be selling: Lanvin, Nina Ricci, Roland Mouret, Max Mara, Missoni, Saint Laurent, Armani, and Herve Leger to name a few. I knew from selling designer scarves like Burberry and Pucci that customers were often weary of spending on high-priced items and loved hearing about what makes them special. I even considered getting my own business cards and attending fashion events to get customers. When I arrived Karolyn was psyched with my enthusiasm and encouraged me to try on a few pieces.
|“You don’t understand, this is an Alaia!”|
Even on that first day there were a few red flags. I was informed that I had been placed in another department that I had interviewed for, St. John, which was on the same sales floor but had a lower base pay ($9 versus $14.50) an abysmally low rate if I failed to make commission. Karolyn assured me that the St. John department had a very loyal following and I would probably sell more. I took her reassurances without a second thought and committed myself to learning as much about St. John that I could.