Born and raised in Coquitlam, B.C, Audrey Wong spent many years traveling the world before stepping foot into the fashion industry.
“I spent 13 years traveling worldwide while performing for Disney on Ice. I gained extensive hands-on travel and life experience from being immersed in different cultures while promoting the shows. I feel so fortunate to have been able to share my passion for performing with so many and help create memories for families all over the world.”
It was June 2015 in South Africa where Audrey was on her final tour with Disney on Ice. Taking her memories from years of traveling along with her, she arrived back to Vancouver, hopping off the plane into her interview with Nordstrom. From one dream job to another, it was fate that brought Audrey to Nordstrom – both her grandmother and mom have worked with the company at the Northgate location, just outside of Seattle. After spending thirteen years on ice, Audrey began her career at Nordstrom as a salesperson in the contemporary women’s wear department, Via C.
Q: How did you first get involved with Nordstrom?
I began as a salesperson in the Via C department at a store opening in August of 2015, building relationships with customers, learning to provide the customer service that Nordstrom is known for and absorbing information about the beautiful product we carry.
In April 2016, I took part and graduated from a leadership course provided by Nordstrom called “Future Nordstrom Leaders” program. In this program, you learn the groundwork of what it takes to be a leader at Nordstrom. We were fortunate enough to shadow our store manager, benefit from the attention of assigned mentors and other leaders in the store, and gain the knowledge necessary to run a successful business.
From that program, I was immediately offered the position of Assistant Department Manager of the Women’s Casual and Denim department, TBD. While I worked with this team I grew my leadership skills through on-boarding new hires and helping to develop existing salespeople. I supported the team through events like our infamous Anniversary sale and vendor visits as well as learned how to adapt my selling style to use my strengths to help teach the team.
After 6 months of this position, I had the opportunity to take over the role of Department Manager for the Trend department! Within this role, I have been able to lead a team of motivated and really fun salespeople to continue to grow our business and gain market share. Through working with our merchant teams in Seattle, my regional merchandiser in Toronto and the entire store in Vancouver, we continue to ensure we are consistently providing the best customer service and the right product by listening to what our customer wants and needs.
What makes the role of Trend Department Manager different than any other selling manager role in the store is that the responsibility of the Fashion Ambassador program accompanies it! I have continued to be inspired every year by the passion and knowledge that the Ambassadors bring to every meeting and experience they take part in at Nordstrom.
The Nordstrom Fashion Ambassador Program
The Fashion Ambassador program is a year-long program that gives High School students (Grade 11 or 12) a backstage pass into the world of Fashion Retail. Once a month we meet to go over different topics, from buying to visual merchandising and also soft skills like interviewing and leadership. They are exposed to guest speakers from within Nordstrom, hands on exercises and have the opportunity to volunteer for store events and apply for open positions on the sales floor! It is a great opportunity to be in the company of like-minded individuals that also have a passion for fashion, to build their network of contacts and to be able to explore all the different avenues that fashion industry can offer.
Students get to take on many projects throughout this program, and one big project before graduation, which is usually contained within the meetings and are relevant to the topic that month. For example, if the topic is Social Media, the companies Social Media Coordinator will teach the students how to shoot a flat-lay for Instagram, using the Nordstrom guidelines. Other projects include group work to shoot themed posts. In a previous Spring Break inspired post group project, the team that got most likes on their post had their post re-grammed by the official Nordstrom Vancouver Instagram page.
Q: Tell us about your role as a Coordinator for the Fashion Ambassador Program.
As the Coordinator for the Fashion Ambassador program at Nordstrom, it is my responsibility to promote and run the program, recruit, interview and accept the students who qualify, and develop the program for future classes through sharing feedback with the other department managers across Canada who are running this program at their stores. I have been active in this position for almost 2 years and my biggest takeaway is that I learn as much from the students as they hopefully have from being involved as Fashion Ambassadors.
Q: What skills would someone have to have if they were considering working at Nordstrom?
A passion for people and being able to think outside the box to take care of the customer. I truly believe in the mantra of hire the personality and train the skill. Product knowledge and operational skills can be taught— it is much harder to teach an employee to care about going above and beyond to provide exceptional service day after day.
Q: How can the Ambassador program be effective for students who are considering the JCI Fashion Program after high school? Which skills will be adapted from the program allowing a student to be industry-prepared when it comes to enrolling in Fashion School?
The Fashion Ambassador program exposes the students to a broad variety of avenues the fashion industry can take you. I have found that by the end of the year it has helped our students hone in on exactly what route they want to take within the industry and prepare them for their post-secondary decisions. It provides them with a place to network among their peers as well introduce them to leaders/potential mentors already in the field. The networking skills developed and hands-on experience gained through being a part of such a fashion authority like Nordstrom will benefit the Fashion Ambassadors as they embark on their post-secondary adventures.
Love fashion and want to make it your career? JCI Institute Vancouver’s Fashion Business & Creative Arts Diploma Program provides students with a comprehensive overview of the fashion industry, combining creative and business elements. This diverse approach gives our fashion school grads a distinct advantage both in knowledge and skill. Prepare for many jobs in the fashion industry, including becoming a fashion buyer, fashion stylist, or for work in fashion merchandising. If becoming a fashion designer is more your speed, choose our Core Fashion Program. This course at our fashion design institute will give you all the skills you need to be a fashion designer. Choose between our fashion programs to find the best fit for you!