The Fortress

I like to think of the individuals forming 5 Star Plus Retail Design in the same aspect of a fortress. A fortress on its own is piles of stones mashed together and lathered in a paste concoction with the intent of creating an “impenetrable” structure. However, if you integrate additional defense measures into this fort such as archery towers, cannons and infantry, this fortress sharply grows in power. Just like each defense measure has its own strength and intended purpose, each individual at 5 Star Plus Retail Design has their own strengths and intended purpose.

Being a marketing major surrounded by a workforce of designers does give me an advantage 99% of designers do not have; outside perspective. Designers see the world differently. Their attention for detail and creative mindsets causes this difference. In terms of creating incredible pieces of art, they see a vision, begin executing it and usually end up with a masterpiece. But, from a marketing perspective, many people do not have the level of detail a designer does. This affects how you sell a product. Businesses want to make the most amount of money with the least amount of money. Ensuring this happens while ensuring the designer has the freedom to create their vision is the challenge. There must be equilibrium. This is where my outside perspective comes in. I provide insight with what I believe is noticeable and worth exploring further in terms of integration but, also what I believe is unnecessary. This insight could mean the difference of thousands of dollars in savings.

My supervisor, Barbara, who is now back from her endeavor in Austria and leading the company as if she never left, has a distinguishable feature few individuals achieve. When Barbara enters the office, a presence of respect, admiration and inspiration accompanies her. This presence is like an airborne disease; infecting anyone within a one-hundred-meter distance. You can sense the respect and admiration the coworkers have for her by watching their body language and tones change in their voice when her name is spoken. For me, when I gaze at Barbara, I see a woman who started with little and ended up building an empire; a span currently extending from east Asia to parts of western Europe.  Her intelligence and strong work ethic reminds me of an individual very dear to me.  Watching her strive each day to achieve her aspirations is both contagious and admirable. I truly believe you are who you surround yourself with. Having the opportunity to work alongside an individual like Barbara, and the team of people she surrounds herself with is unparalleled.

As wonderful as working with Barbara is, she is also the most difficult part about this job. In the words of Charles Darwin “It’s not the smartest nor the strongest but, those who are most willing to adapt who survive.” Barbara is one of the more stubborn individuals I have come across. She is quick to formulate reasons for why she does not want an idea or concept implemented if this concept does not align with her vision. To a certain degree, this stubbornness can be an asset. However, annihilating an idea due to pride, personal vendettas, or preferring a traditional route encompassed in familiarity versus a direction with unknown possibilities can prevent progress and innovation. For example, the company’s website is currently outdated and encompassed in inaccurate information, lack of structure and redundant content. When the team of interns met with Barbara to discuss updating the website, each idea proposed was like fighting an uphill battle. Each proposal was met with skepticism followed by reluctance for pursuing that direction. Fortunately, being a stubborn individual myself, I understand the key to dealing with a stubborn individual is to back each idea with facts. Supporting each statement with strong facts forces the person to reevaluate their approach and explore directions that are in their best interest; even if they do not realize it. Updating the website has been a slow process, however, we are now in the beginning stages of integrating several of our ideas onto the site. Perseverance and patience is a virtue.

I believe the best part of this internship is the people. Mariam, Daniel, Samantha, Cecilia, Genevieve, Zhong zi, Mia, Tim, Barbara and everyone else has become the closest I have gotten to a second family. People say, “If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life.” I think this concept not only applies to a job, but also with the people you work alongside with. I can’t definitively say whether retail design is the direction for me in life, however, I do know that I could see myself working countless years alongside this group of people and that urge for excitement, belonging and happiness would be satisfied. Unfortunately, everything has a time frame. This week will be Samantha’s and Genevieve’s last before they head back to Indiana. Friday will be hard and Monday even harder. Like a fort, we have moments of hardships and challenges to conquer. However, we are made of stone and stone is strong. We are all sad that our time together is ending but, were happy for what it was.

Tom dinner

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