Once people hear that Emily Kahn works in the fashion industry they often assume a lot about her job. She’s the first to say most of it isn’t true.
“Everyone’s like, ‘Oh my god, that must be so cool. You must be meeting all these celebrities,’” she laughed. “And it’s not like that at all.
“People just think this kind of role, and fashion in general, is so glamorous,” she continued. “There’s definitely a lot of hard work that goes in to it. A lot of sleepless nights, a lot of prepping, a lot of behind the scenes work.”
Before you ask yes, the Bloomfield Township native does go to Europe a few times a year, including during Paris Fashion Week, but she isn’t sitting at runway shows next to the likes of Anna Wintour. She and her co-workers can be found in their suite, showing clients the designers – up-and-coming and more established – they represent at High Alchemy Showroom, where Kahn has been an account manager for the last year.
Everyday is jam-packed, even when not in Europe. Take for example the week we did our interview. It was early November and Kahn was in the middle of doing a trunk show at Birmingham’s TENDER, where she showcased clothes by two of the designers she represents for High Alchemy.
TENDER is one of the hundreds – literally, hundreds – of stores Kahn checks in on throughout the year.
“I’m just here to help sell and bring people to the store,” said Kahn, who graduated from Andover High School and Indiana University. “It’s a great way to get customers in the door for an event.”
Kahn does a lot more than just help sell. She's a stylemaker, making sure the sales associates know the merchandise as well as she does, and that product is moving. If not, she helps figure out why that’s the case.
When she’s in the New York office it’s more checking in with stores and re-ordering merchandise, and meeting clients – by appointment only – at the showroom, which Kahn described as super-relaxed and homey.
“It’s kind of like a one-stop shop for stores that come in and buy 10 to 12 lines from us,” said Kahn, who described her own style as a little funky.
That may sound like an overwhelming amount of clothes lines, but Kahn has spent most of her life surrounded by them.
During her childhood, she could be found after school at her mom’s former Birmingham clothing store for children, Kiddlywinks, right across the street from TENDER.
“I was the girl who showed everyone where the dressing room was,” she said. “I think that really influenced me in wanting to be in the industry.”
Said industry is where she hopes to spend the rest of her career, to work her way up to possibly vice president of sales at a company – nothing too corporate, though.
Kahn envisions herself working for one brand, probably someone up-and coming she can help grow, like she does now with some designers at High Alchemy. She doesn’t have one designer in particular picked out, but there is one thing she needs in a future employer.
“I want to make sure that I love the brand,” Kahn said. “I think it’s so important to love what you sell.”
And what you do – even if it isn’t as glamorous as everyone assumes.
Photo: Laurie Tennent