Spotlight - Ann Marie Francis

Ann Marie Francis

by Lindsay Ederheimer

Although Ann Marie Francis moved across the globe during her childhood, her entrepreneurial spirit and love for fashion never changed.

Francis spent her high school years in Vicenza, Italy, attending school on a military base while her dad worked as an army ranger. Living on a farm in a small Italian town, Francis was eager to get back to a fast-paced life in the states for college, and was encouraged by relatives in St. Petersburg to attend USF.

Francis came to USF in 2013 to pursue a degree in international business, knowing her global perspective and experience living abroad put her ahead of the game.

But when she took the basic marketing course with Professor Carol Osborne, Francis realized that a marketing degree would allow her to pursue a career in fashion.

"Marketing is the most fun part of business," Francis said. "It allows the most creativity and gives me an avenue to express myself."

The aspiring entrepreneur realized she could use her business knowledge to start a career in fashion while working as a sales associate at Kate Spade New York.

"I always loved fashion, but I didn't know how to make a career out of it," Francis said. "After studying sales and marketing at USF and seeing how merchandising works behind the scenes, I realized I could make it work."

She was inspired by her fellow Kate Spade New York team members to apply for sales internships at fashion-focused companies. She landed a position at Nordstrom headquarters in Seattle this summer as a retail management handbags intern.

As an intern, she attends leadership development and selling courses, helps the store monitor and reach sales goals, and takes on weekly assignments. For instance, she often has to "shop the competition," where she visits competing stores to take notes on brands and what items are doing well in other departments.

Francis' favorite part of the role was attending Nordstrom's designer preview show, where she worked backstage as a dresser. She was assigned to a model, and styled her using pieces from Alexander McQueen, Marchesa, and other leading designers.

"The biggest lesson I've learned working at Nordstrom is to have a positive attitude, no matter how stressful of a situation you're in," Francis said. "In the fashion world and the business world, you have to learn how to deal with people and have thick skin."

Francis says her coursework as a marketing major provided the background knowledge she needed to be a good communicator and networker.

"The professional selling course helped me get comfortable in front of people and be more confident," Francis said. "I have to sell myself on the job everyday and prove that I can handle anything."

Francis will take her next career step at HSN, accepting a full-time internship as a digital merchandising intern this fall. She will handle e-commerce in the kitchenware division, analyzing trends and handling the website's merchandising. She is confident HSN is the best place to continue learning about merchandising.

"I've been applying for this position at HSN every semester for the past three years," Francis said. "To finally get the job feels like a huge accomplishment."

When she's not busy scoring internships, Francis runs her own fashion blog and serves as the historian for USF's American Marketing Association.