Name: Viki Merjos
Job Title: Designer and owner of Goddis knitwear
College/Major: Business major at the University of Virginia
Twitter Handle: @goddisknitwear
Her Campus: What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?
Viki Merjos: There isn’t really a typical day at Goddis; it’s always a combination of business and creativity. I take inspiration from the beauty of the world outside, to create the bright colorways I use in my collections. Inspiration can come from anywhere—recently I was at Bimini in the Bahamas and swam with dolphins, which inspired a lot of new colors in my collection. Aside from design, my job is also a lot of business. Whether it’s paperwork, phone calls, or emailing, the biggest thing for me is to keep organized and follow through with every little detail. Through the years, I found this to be the most crucial point in running a business.
HC: What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?
VM: I started working in retail at a very young age. I worked hard and always helped style the shop. My bosses ended up liking my portrayed style so much that they let me become an assistant buyer, and eventually promoted to buyer. From there I learned everything about the industry, from designing, to advertising, to sales. By the time I was ready to start my line, I was equipped with a strong set of skills and experiences.
HC: What is one thing you wish you knew about your industry when you first started out that you know now?
VM: I didn’t realize how crucial building relationships were. One of the most important things is to surround yourself with successful people in your industry, who are above you and you can learn from. It’s cliché to say, but a lot of success is from whom you know, not just what you know. I also didn’t realize how hard it was to get a clothing line off the ground. When I started Goddis, I would drive my ponchos (the only style I used to make) all over California to different stores. I had to slowly build a huge customer list on the west coast before I was even accepted by a showroom. It was a lot of work but it definitely paid off. Today, my line of high-end knitwear is sold all over the world and worn by celebrities such as Miley Cyrus, Vanessa Hudgens, Halle Berry, Ashley Tisdale, Mariah Carey, and the list goes on.
HC: Who is one person who changed your professional life for the better?
VM: The owner of the tradeshow Designers and Agents. She really changed my whole world when she gave my line an opportunity. Buyers from all over the world attend this show in New York, and it gave me the exposure I needed to get Goddis off the ground.
HC: What words of wisdom do you find most valuable?
VM: Do what you truly love and you’ll always be successful. A quote I recently heard and love is “Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life” from Bill Cunningham. So true!
HC: What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?
VM: Trusting people. When I was first starting out, I trusted everyone’s word. I’d ship out my products to a buyer and never receive payment. You need to be cautious and not believe everything you hear. Always protect yourself and your business no matter what.
HC: What is the best part of your job?
VM: Just being able to do what I love and also seeing how far my hard work has taken me. My friends are always pointing out Goddis being worn on TV shows, movies, and celebrities, and it feels so amazing to see people loving my designs.
HC: What do you look for when considering hiring someone?
VM: I like to hire people who have skills that I don’t have. I want to surround myself with people who I can not only learn from, but who are also valuable assets to my company. I’m always impressed when I see that someone has a lot of intern experience because it shows that they value learning and knowledge, even when it means working for free. Also, have a great work resume. You don’t need to include all your high school gigs and random jobs—just include your relevant experience. You need to stick with something for a while to show your commitment level. A lot of employers are scared that someone won’t stick around after all that training, so this is very important.
HC: What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?
VM: Hone in on your skills, which means finding your talent and developing it. Don’t waste your skills by working for an irrelevant industry or job—you need to surround yourself with experiences and internships that will help support your talents, so be specific in your job search.