We caught up with the Kmart Australia team in our February issue. Here's a teaser. To meet the full team, subscribe to our magazine here.

What's your previous experience in the industry?

I have been in the industry for over 25 years. I ran my own business for 10 years developing product for a house brand to sell into retailers, plus I had my own label.

My business produced product locally and was quick turnaround. It was a fantastic experience because I gained experience in buying yarn, knitting and dyeing locally, working with denim laundries, doing my own costings and markers, working with local makers and selling and developing product into different retailers and price points.

After deciding to wind down my business, I worked for a couple of companies which lead me to dealing with Kmart.

One day Kmart advertised a role for a womenswear designer and forecaster and I thought it was my perfect role. I was lucky enough to join the company.

I’ve now been at Kmart for 10 years and manage a team of 48 designers / forecasters.

We design product for clothing, footwear, accessories and handbags, beauty and cosmetics, home, stationery, camping, sport, entertainment, toys and events such as Christmas and Easter.

What's your day to day role?

As design manager, my role is to lead my very talented team of designers to work collaboratively with their buyers and merchandise teams to forecast volume on trend items.

I also lead the trend steer for the seasons mood, colour, materials and print direction.

We develop amazing unique products that are co-ordinated and accessible to all customers.

As you can imagine, every day is different as we have a critical path which is very much like a baton run between the merchandise teams to deliver the product on time.

We are a design-led business which means we have a product roadmap which delivers inspiring products with the customer at front of mind.

What's the most rewarding aspect?

Every day I look forward to coming to work and supporting my team.

They are a very talented and motivated group of designers, who really put their heart and souls into the product.

Kmart would have to have the most advanced design model for a department store in Australia / New Zealand and it has been very rewarding to see it evolve.

What about the most challenging?

Retail is a challenge in itself! Always competitive, always changing and evolving.

We have overseas competitors and the internet changing customers’ perceptions and taking market share. We can’t rest on our laurels and need to be constantly challenging what we do and adapting.

What's an initiative you are most proud of?

I’m proud that we have integrated design and trend forecasting into Kmart’s way of working.

Our collaboration with both the merchandise team and our Kmart sourcing team has contributed to our ability develop a unique offer at really low prices. It means on trend , tasteful product is accessible to everyone now.

What's the biggest challenge to the industry?

I personally think the digital space has been changing the way the customer interfaces with retailers.

Technology is advancing so quickly and it is changing the way retailers communicate, interact and transact with the consumer.

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