A graduate in 2012, Polina Kostyria came to LCC from Kaliningrad, Russia to study Business Administration and Management. Four years at university gave her more than a degree, from building international connections to discovering her life-long passion and career path in fashion. Now, with over 8 years of experience in Italy and France, Polina shares her thoughts on how the pandemic impacted the industry and the future of luxury fashion retail.
Polina enrolled at LCC in 2008 in pursuit of the goal she had since starting high school — to study at an international university and in English. She eagerly started building a new life outside of her hometown and quickly turned into an active community member. During her studies, Polina worked for the LCC Admissions office, became a First Year Seminar leader, and wrote for the student newspaper. “I was trying to soak it all in and take it with me wherever I was going further.”
Looking back, the alumna can see how the LCC experience influenced her personality and professional life. She views LCC as an “eye-opener” that transformed her vision of the world through exposure to different cultures. Connecting with fellow students and instructors from different countries gave Polina “an endless desire to travel more, to explore more, to find out more.” Thus, she started her exploration with a summer course in Visual Merchandising in Florence, Italy. She also made use of LCC’s liberal arts education system to take classes such as film and psychology and have a more enriching experience beyond her selected major.
After graduation, Polina went on to a Master’s study at Polimoda International Institute of Fashion Design & Marketing, specializing in Merchandising and Buying. “It was actually a sad moment to leave LCC because I had made it my family already, but it was nevertheless exciting to put into practice whatever I had learned and to start my independent life in Italy,” she shares. She is happy she did not embark on the fashion studies right away, as her business background turned out to be crucial for her career in fashion retail.
After gaining experience with brands like Dolce & Gabbana and Hugo Boss, Polina is now a Visual Merchandiser and Clienteling Advisor at Celine, a luxury brand that is part of one of the biggest luxury groups, LVMH. She uses her creativity and expertise to create set-ups for the Celine boutique in Florence. As a Clientele Advisor, she builds strategies to establish and maintain long-term relationships with clientele.
Since the pandemic intensified the existing debate on the future of retail in the e-commerce era, Polina shares her vision of the situation. She believes that retail, concerning stand-alone luxury brand stores, will always have a future due to its core value — a very personal relationship with clients. “Now retail has become something that is more of an experience-provider rather than only a product-provider,” says Polina, adding that the only way to consolidate sales is by personalization of the service, building trust, and a relationship between a brand and consumer. Her conviction is strengthened by the belief that “people are what make the difference.” This is one of the key-values she brings from her LCC experience.
“I think there’s no limit when it comes to career growth,” says Polina, when asked about her future plans. She is set on staying in Florence and further developing in retail. In a couple of years, she sees herself managing a luxury brand store.
Finally, the alumna gives some advice to future students on finding their passion. “Come prepared to try everything and be curious. Ask questions. Never be afraid to make mistakes because it’s the best way to learn. Try to challenge yourself and do as many things as you can because that helps you understand who you are, and that’s the best time of your life to explore it.”
In case you’ve missed the Coffee with Alumni discussion with Polina Kostyria and want to learn more about the fashion business environment, here is the full video — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TmB-4Mhwrc