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Footwear Design Director

ABLE is growing our design team and we are searching for an expert to oversee our shoe department.  We are a rapidly growing lifestyle fashion brand with a mission of creating sustainable business opportunities for women both locally and globally.  Our team is composed of sharp, driven people who thrive in a mission-driven, collaborative culture. Come join us in Nashville, TN. 

Qualifications and Skills 

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts or Fashion Design or equivalent professional work experience in either design or production
  • Must have a minimum of 3 years of experience in product development, drawing sketches, leather details and shoe construction
  • Strong understanding of shoe and leather production, including manufacturing processes, new material development, finishing treatments, quality, color consistency, production issues and lead-times
  • Ability to create and drive timelines with each vendor to ensure that designs will hit market deadlines
  • Knowledge of best practices within the manufacturing environment
  • Excellent communication skills with the ability to effectively collaborate with partners in Merchandising and Planning, responding to business objectives with creative, innovative, and cost-effective design solutions
  • Strong negotiation and presentation skills
  • People management skills and experience
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Proficient with Microsoft Office and the Adobe Creative Suite
  • Demonstrated decision making and problem solving skills 

Job Responsibilities 

  • Coordinate the creation of tech packs, including design renderings, materials, and measurements in order to accurately communicate designs to vendors
  • Understand and apply trends in the retail/ fashion industry and interpret them for our customer
    • Research Color, Materials, Print, Trims, Hardware, and Silhouettes
  • Create assortment plans alongside the design team, including design inspiration, renderings, color palettes, and materials
  • Use company sales data to inform design processes, company margin guidelines to inform pricing, and both sales data and trend knowledge to inform obsolescence planning for the product life cycle
  • Communicate timelines and designs effectively to manufacturers in order to efficiently guide the product development process, ensuring on-time samples and final products
  • Oversee shoe sourcing and material development to ensure materials are competitively priced and adhere to quality standards, color accuracy, and desired handfeel
  • Travel to factories for product development
  • Coordinate the sending of development packages to partners
  • Support the initiation and management of product revisions and follow-ups on all development from 1st proto to commercialization.
  • Manage final sample product testing to ensure that construction quality and materials meet standards
  • Manage daily communication with vendors related to troubleshooting construction issues
  • Establish new manufacturing relationships and find new vendors for new concept developments

Individual Traits

  •  Committed to the work of empowering women through employment as a serious solution to poverty
  • Strength in being your own manager and able to stay on task and hit deadlines
  • Passion for fashion and future design trends
  • Thrives best in a team environment and enjoys collaborating to achieve best results
  • Able to quickly read and react to customer’s wants and needs and turn them into thoughtful designs
  • Understands impacts of sales, margin, and seasonality trends in retail 

Team Collaboration

  • Collaboration - Attend design and merchant meetings, actively contributing relevant category information, and work to execute actions coming out of meetings
  • Flexibility - Take direction from leaders, implement changes, adjust processes as needed
  • Supervision - Work with design team on a daily basis to efficiently execute shoe designs
  • Creativity - Motivate and encourage innovation and creativity within the shoe category
  • Adaptability - Ability to adapt to change and operate in a dynamic organization, while also managing competing priorities
  • Observant - Recognize and accurately forecast fashion and cultural trends as they relate to the ABLE target customer

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