June 13, 2024
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How a Binghamton University grad discovered her ‘perfect fit’ fashion career

Roberta Vasili ’23, MBA ’24 learned the science behind fashion business in the School of Management, leading to assistant buyer job at Burlington

Roberta Vasili ’23, MBA ’24, graduates with her Master of Business of Administration from Binghamton University's School of Management. Roberta Vasili ’23, MBA ’24, graduates with her Master of Business of Administration from Binghamton University's School of Management.
Roberta Vasili ’23, MBA ’24, graduates with her Master of Business of Administration from Binghamton University's School of Management. Image Credit: Jonathan Cohen.

Did you know whenever you walk into a clothing store, there’s a strategy behind how everything from that seasonal sweater to a pair of jeans is displayed?

Roberta Vasili ’23, MBA ’24, certainly didn’t until she discovered her passion for fashion merchandising through Binghamton University’s School of Management (SOM). After graduating with her Master of Business of Administration (MBA), she’ll take the first step of her career as an assistant buyer for Burlington in New Jersey.

“When most people think of fashion, they might just focus on the glitz and glamour. I used to think that way, too, but I’ve been thrilled to discover just how strategic it is as a business,” Vasili said. “There’s visual merchandising, maximizing sales to increase revenue, analytics and inventory management, even studying customer demographics. There’s a reason for the price of that sweater and a markup percentage that goes behind it. An average customer might never realize these things if the business does its job right.”

A first-generation child of parents who came to the United States from Albania in their early 20s, Vasili learned early that opportunities are never handed to you; you create them for yourself.

Starting with her first year as an undecided undergraduate student at Binghamton, she didn’t waste time.

Vasili joined the Binghamton Business Fashion Society student club, which, at first, was just a way to make friends and find her niche. However, as she gained experience through new roles or hearing from guest speakers working at L’Oréal and Louis Vuitton, it became clear this was what she wanted to do.

After Vasili applied to SOM in her sophomore year, she further honed her marketing prowess inside and outside the classroom. Courses in fashion buying and negotiations rank among her favorites. At the same time, her luxury brand management class blended her love of analytics and numbers with what she affectionately refers to as “the geeky stuff.”

Continuing in her Business Fashion Society roles, she participated in simulations presented by visiting alumni working in the field, such as deciding the best merchandise for stores in Florida versus New York.

Then, in the summer before her senior year, Vasili had the chance to study in Florence, Italy, a proverbial “fashion capital of the world.”

“What I learned there is that luxury is like a service. You’re paying that price for a service, not just paying it for that bag or piece of jewelry,” she said. “Since that doesn’t always attract the ‘average’ or ‘everyday’ consumer, I think that what will ultimately allow those more affordable clothing stores to succeed no matter where the trends go, because they’re so reliable.”

Vasili’s experience at Binghamton enabled her to graduate as a competitive job candidate, with skills ranging from knowledge of the latest marketing and business strategies to versatility with Microsoft Excel.

“I’m excited to dive into the retail side by analyzing those sales records, seeing how much inventory we have and how it’s doing in stores, then using my creative side to think about whether a customer in New Jersey might like a certain item compared to a customer in another state,” Vasili said. “This is part of the science behind the whole profession, and it’s a really important factor in helping the business succeed.”

Discovering her dream career in just a few years at Binghamton while working closely with SOM’s advising team every step of the way has reaffirmed for Vasili the truth behind one of her favorite sayings: “Believe you deserve it, and the universe will serve it.”

“Believe in yourself and your dreams, put your best foot forward, and you will succeed. Most importantly, be yourself,” she said. “I was myself when I got involved in the Fashion Society. I was myself during my internships and when I studied in Italy. I was myself when I applied to different positions that led to my new job. Being myself made it possible for me to succeed.”

Posted in: Business, Campus News, SOM