During her latest fashion buying trip to Italy, Karen managed to take some time out to explore the countryside, which included cycling the cobbled streets of some picturesque local villages (and helping herself to some fresh lemons for her G & T from the hotel grounds).

It all sounds fabulous fun, and more like a holiday than a fashion buying trip, but the reality is far from the glamorous and glitzy image people have of fashion buying.

The challenges are continuous. Not only is Karen constantly searching for the best fashion designs to meet the demands of her customers, but she is committed to visiting suppliers herself to ensure the quality of the fabric and finishing to meet her stringent standards.

At the moment, she is travelling to Italy on a regular basis to source top quality Italian designs for the many wholesale customers they supply throughout the UK and Europe, as well as to stock both of her boutiques and online shop. These buying trips are essential to enable Goose Island to be able to offer customers an eclectic range of seasonal clothing which is genuinely ‘Made in Italy’.

Her day starts early to ensure she is able to oversee the selection of fabrics and ensure patterns and production is set up correctly. Italy is considered to be the stronghold of the Italian textile industry and, when she’s there, Karen spends her days from 9.00 am to 8.30 pm, viewing designs, negotiating on prices, and placing orders.

To put this task into perspective, Goose Island is working with many manufacturers in Northern Italy where the factories are spread over a vast area which involves a lot of driving time and, of course, this makes Karen’s task to find the right products for her brand a huge challenge. Whether it is knitwear, which will include the very popular shirt/jumper, layered tunics, dresses, or tops, she has to spend hours visiting each different manufacturer to find just the right styles and colours.  She also has to organise the shipping and delivery to the UK within the tightest deadlines.

So bearing all of this in mind, Karen has earned her time out on her recent trip, and her G & T on the hotel veranda. Chin Chin!

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