by Julia Plevin '09
"My husband finds it really embarrassing when I look at women's rear ends in public," divulges Christina Casey '98. However, Casey is more interested in the jeans than the rear end, and being aware of jean trends is her job. As the premium denim buyer for Bloomingdale's, Casey goes to trade shows and meets with denim vendors. Even in the incredibly fast-paced retail industry, she remains ahead of trends in denim and knows what Bloomingdale's customers will want to buy even before they do. She works on taking a trend and turning it into a multi-million dollar business, a challenging job that takes both creativity and analytical skills. She likes her job for the same reasons she liked Dartmouth: it is the perfect balance of art and science.
Casey chose Dartmouth for its size and rural location away from a metropolitan area. She was instantly sold by the school's beautiful campus and liked the idea of a broad liberal arts education where the major was not an overwhelming part of the curriculum. With its D plan and longstanding traditions, Dartmouth seemed to offer something different than every other school she had seen.
Coming into Dartmouth, Casey wanted to be pre-med and was initially a biology major. Sophomore year, she switched her major to psychology, reasoning that she would interact with different people and personalities no matter what she did in her life. She wrote her senior thesis on nonverbal behavior cues using the Nixon-Kennedy debates for her research. Without realizing it, she was preparing herself perfectly for a career of listening to customers and keeping them happy. Still, Casey did not consider retail during her time at Dartmouth. She initially thought she would do investment banking, but later decided that she wanted something more tangible. She wanted to be able to "wrap her hands and brain around a business that was anchored in a product, a real life experience."
Casey is a go-getter. She found her job by taking a proactive role in the job search. Casey interned at Center for Professional Development her senior year and, through the internship, found out about a liberal arts job fair in New York City featuring marketing and advertising jobs. Bloomingdale's had representatives at the fair. She recognized the company from shopping with her mom in her hometown, Essex Fells, New Jersey. Upon learning more about the company and the position, she was drawn to the idea of really running a business and having autonomy in managing specific areas. She was accepted into the ten-week executive training program, which she started soon after graduating from Dartmouth.
Casey has not always been a denim expert. After completing the Bloomingdale's executive training program, she began work as an assistant buyer for men's underwear. She then moved up through the company, gaining expertise as she bought cosmetics and men's fragrances. She has held her current job for two years and is now officially an expert on premium denim.
Although she says, "I am not curing cancer, I am selling jeans," she takes pride in managing her big business. Casey works with a planner and two assistants. Having been on the varsity field hockey and softball teams at Dartmouth, working with a team comes naturally to her. She also works one on one with the vendors in the premium denim market to keep Bloomingdale's customers satisfied. She trusts the vendors because they are very aware of what customers want and are good at predicting the "next greatest thing." Also, for most vendors, Bloomingdale's is one of their largest retail partners. Casey's job is to make sure that Bloomingdale's supplies the best assortment for its customers.
Casey is enthusiastic about the upcoming trend in "boyfriend jeans." She is excited about the new silhouette and the customer interest it will hopefully spark, but watching the trend closely. Since "look" done right is great, but done wrong looks dumpy, even on celebrities like Katie Holmes or Kate Moss, the trend will not be for everyone. Still, she hopes that her customers will try out this trend and buy at least one pair. Casey and her team will ride out the boyfriend jean trend until the customer says she is over it. Casey can see what the customer wants immediately as she and her team review sales every Monday. Even though it is still February, the customer is ready for spring and something new in her closet. Sales in black denim have decreased while sales in white denim have started to increase.
Casey's buying decisions have influenced the business and impacted people. She loves that she can be both an entrepreneur and part of a large, successful company. Casey demonstrated her passion for running a successful business by earning her MBA at New York University while working at Bloomingdale's. She would like to continue to contribute to Bloomingdales, gaining larger responsibilities in the future.
In the meantime, she manages her professional career with her family life. Her son is her world, but she says that deciding on her own favorite brand of jeans is like "choosing amongst her children." Since everyone wants to know what type of jeans the premium denim buyer is wearing, she finally divulges that she plans to bring three brands of jeans - AG, Joe's, and DL 1921 - to an upcoming trade show in Las Vegas.
Last Updated: 10/9/13