Behind the Seams with summer intern Stephanie Flint

Hi! I'm Stephanie, a senior at Butler University and the Human Resources intern in the Fort Wayne office. As long as I can remember, I have enjoyed collecting Vera Bradley, and I am extremely excited about this summer. Check back to follow what's happening behind the seams at Vera Bradley!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Shopped 'til I dropped

My purchases for Vera Bradley: Large Duffel and Clutch Wallet

Yesterday I was assigned an important task: online shopping....with a corporate credit card... at my favorite stores.

Have I mentioned how amazing this internship is yet??

Yes, I did spend the day armed with the credit card, but it was for business, not pleasure, and all items will be returned! Vera Bradley is taking a closer look at our packaging for web orders and want to see what other companies are up to. When all of my packages arrive, we will have a big meeting and look at what I ordered! Everyone will open a box and the entire opening process will be documented: is there a gift box? What does the tissue paper looked like? Is the packaging pretty?

Even just thinking about a J.Crew gift appearing at my door makes me happy!

Checking out a Janie and Jack pint-sized apron... all in a day's work!

Seeing so many different check-out processes really started making me fussy! I became quite the demanding online shopper: I want to be able to see graphics or my item the whole time I am filling out the shipping and billing forms AND want an online confirmation email sent to me seconds after I place the order. My critical eye is being fine-tuned by "behind the scenes" experiences with web and retail... I am well on my way to becoming an expert shopper!

I highly recommend a little online retail therapy as a treat. (And for those who don't have a corporate card, our summer sale is still going strong!)

Monday, June 28, 2010

A VIP intern lunch

There was a definite bustle around the training room at Industrial Road around lunchtime on Friday. The china plates were set (on Poppy Fields tablecloths, of course) and catered food was delivered. Why? The interns had two special guests, co-founders Barbara Bradley Baekgaard and Patricia R. Miller, joining us for lunch!

Everyone was very excited about this lunch--I saw the news on a few intern Facebook profiles and Mike even wore his tie... on a Friday! Human Resources ordered a delicious spread and the guests of honor were great. They kept thanking us for being there and working for the company, but I was thinking "no, thank YOU!" Without them, my life wouldn't be as colorful!

I was lucky enough to sit next to Barb and we talked about the Providence store. She was there the week before Shannon and I made our trip to the east coast. I told her that two girls came to the opening and said they had met her the week before when she was making the finishing touches on the store!

Interns with co-founders Pat and Barb, in center.

One of the questions that they said they hear a lot is "Did you ever dream that it would get to this?" Pat's answer: "We never put a ceiling on it." Barb said that when they started, even when they were sewing on a basement Ping-Pong table, they treated it like a business and not just a hobby. They held booths in gift shows and enlisted friends and families to spread the word and sell. Now, there are more than a thousand employees and Vera Bradley stores across the country... proving that the best things ARE happening at Vera Bradley!

After lunch, we had a short meeting and have plans for an intern competition in the future.... go Industrial Road interns!

We are in it to win it... more details to come!

Friday, June 25, 2010

A walk on the wild side with CheetahMail

Yesterday the Vera Bradley web team had a visit from Experian CheetahMail, an email marketing and customer intelligence company. CheetahMail works with Vera Bradley in sending out the emails the web team creates.

I thought they gave a very interesting presentation! They presented on email trends, how to keep the interest of email subscribers, and even the most effective subject line content. Since listening to their presentation I have already started to look at my email inbox differently!

David Hirsch, Doug Turpel, and Liz Gould from CheetahMail (with new Vera Bradley ties and a tote!) with my mentor Sarah and I.

And the moment everyone had been waiting for? Chick-fil-A for lunch! Now that is what I call mixing business with pleasure :)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Direct Sales birthday!

Industrial Road started the week off with a bang with the birthday of the Vice President of Direct Sales, Dave Thompson. The web team worked together and delivered a box of goodies that they had lovingly prepared for him. We waited until the end of the day to surprise Dave and crowded around his office to see his reactions...

A stuffed cheetah... just what he wanted...

Snack throwback: Star Crunch.

New 3D shades and wallpaper roller show that birthday wishes do come true!

I couldn't stop laughing while Dave was examining each gift. He asked if it was an intern project but I quickly redirected his teases-- I mean, thanks-- to the web team. Dave had a little quip about the usefulness or origin of each item: "Oh mints! ... Probably from lunch today..." (Yes, from Biaggi's!)

Best birthday ever? I think so!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Intern essentials

During the last few weeks, I've noticed I have several items that are always on-hand:

1. Let's Do Lunch in Mediterranean Blue. It's the perfect size for a Lean Cuisine and cut veggies. Mine is a gift from my mom--one of her purchases from the outlet sale!

2. Starbucks reusable "To-Go" cup. I feel like Fort Wayne's answer to NYC's Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen with my cup in hand. The straw top isn't practical for stopping spills... but I drink more so it empties quickly!

3. Vera in Night Owl, one of my favorite purchases from Wrentham. The Vera has inside pockets and the cute toggle closure. It is my all-day, every day bag-- big enough to fit my many folders, water, and any other miscellaneous odds and ends I accumulate during the day.

4. Take Note Cube in Make Me Blush. I keep it on my desk so I am always prepared for to-do lists and random scribbles. It's my stylish alternative to the ordinary Post-it!

5. "Keep Calm and Carry On" pillow from Target. This has been my mantra since my trip to London last summer. The pillow now matches my postcard and is a great reminder to breathe deeply... and carry on.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Take me out to the ball game...

It was a pretty packed crowd for a Thursday night!

As a visitor to Fort Wayne, I am often at a loss of what to see or do in this neck of the woods. Luckily, I have some local intern friends who can act as my tour guide! Last night's trip to the TinCaps game against the Dayton Dragons was Megan's idea, a Vera Bradley intern and Fort Wayne native.

Megan, Allegra, and I carpooled to the stadium and also met up with Mike and Bret, two other interns. I have to admit that we didn't watch too much of the game... we were too into our conversation to focus on the action on the field!

Bret left his Vera Bradley at home, but luckily we had a wallet he could borrow! Maybe a Vera Bradley tie would be more his style?

But we did turn our attention to the field when the fireworks started! I am not sure if the fireworks were because of a TinCaps win (yay!) or just because it was a nice night. Either way, they were impressive!

Very good--and very loud!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

So long Midwest... hello East Coast!

This past weekend, my mentor Shannon and I headed to the Massachusetts/Rhode Island area to visit a few stores and help with the opening festivities. It was a big weekend for Vera Bradley--a Vera Bradley store opened in Providence, Rhode Island and an outlet store opened in Wrentham, Massachusetts.

I had never been the northeastern part of the country before, so I was very excited! We flew into Boston and were able to walk around before heading to Providence for the main event, the store opening.

Swans in a row, all lined up and ready to go!

For the Providence store opening, we arrived early to meet the store team and check out the store. The store team was hard at work completing the final details (Loves Me... cupcakes, anyone?) so Shannon and I were able to get the lay of the land.

What a view--the Riverwalk from the store window!

The store was beautiful! Each of the Vera Bradley stores have a similar feel, but have different elements to match the location and the people. The wallpaper, chandeliers, and furniture were absolutely perfect and made the store feel more like a home than an actual store. The store is even able to please male guests: throughout the day, I spotted many guys enjoying the couches while waiting for their shoppers!

L: The calm before the storm. R: full of Vera Bradley fans!

Our first two Twitter winners!

One of the opening activities was a giveaway on Twitter. Vera Bradley (follow on Twitter!) "tweeted" a secret code for fans to repeat at the store opening, and the first five guests who said the code won a gift card. The woman on the right waited for an hour before the doors opened just so she was sure she was one of the first five--I love her dedication!

Shannon and I took a little break from the Providence store and decided to check out a "Coming Soon" Vera Bradley store in Burlington, Massachusetts. We scoped out the mall and met with the mall marketing manager to talk about future plans. She pointed us to the food court to check out ShotCakes, an ingenious family-run company that fills cupcakes with ice cream. We had to try one (for business purposes, of course) and were not disappointed... it was delicious!

Love the Loves Me... barricade!

We got in touch with our wild side at the Rainforest Cafe. Luckily Shannon wasn't phased by whooping monkeys and blinking elephants!

On Saturday, we headed to Newport, Rhode Island on the recommendation of store and opening manager Deb. Deb is pretty awesome and said Newport was one of her favorite places, so we wanted to check it out for ourselves.

At the start of the Cliff Walk--we walked all of the way past the point in the distance!

Our mission in Newport: find the big mansions. Newport is called "America's First Resort" and has the summer "houses" of American royalty such as the Vanderbilts, the Kennedys, and the Astors. We walked the Cliff Walk, a path along the water that showed the ocean-facing backs of the mansions. It was beautiful!

A few examples of the "humble abodes" along the Cliff Walk.

After plenty of oohing and aahing, we headed back to Providence to organize the street teams. Shannon had gathered a few local girls to pass out free gifts to mall visitors and invite them to the store. We gave our gifts in style, wearing Loves Me... shirts and carried enormous Loves Me... bags! It was really fun to see people get excited about receiving a gift and the store opening. Providence has great Vera Bradley fans!

Providence was having their Waterfire celebration on Saturday night so we planned on catching the crowds that were watching the bonfires being lit on the river. Unfortunately the weather had other plans... we venture outside for about thirty minutes and ended up soaked!

We didn't let a little water ruin our fun! (I am on the far right)

Our final destination was Wrentham, Massachusetts on Sunday to visit the new outlet store. I was very happy to see some of my favorite recently retired patterns. I stocked up on Night Owl for future sorority presents (owls are one of our symbols!) and to contribute to the good of the store :) The prices were great and the apron-ed staff looked very cute!

Vera Bradley has hit Wrentham!

So much Vera Bradley!

It was such an awesome weekend! Shannon was a blast to travel with and I was really lucky to see so many "behind the scenes" steps for the stores. The amount of work and detail everyone contributed definitely paid off in beautiful stores and very successful openings!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Intern night out!

The Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce has a great Graduate Retention program that offers summer interns activities and events throughout the summer to get to know Fort Wayne and other interns a little better. Last week, we went bowling!

Representing Vera Bradley!

After we enjoyed the free pizza, it was time to hit the lanes... complete with "stylish" bowling shoes. My sandal-clad feet were sockless (and I was not about to wear those shoes without socks!) so fellow intern Brian very nicely brought me a pair of brand-new socks from his car! I think they must have been lucky because I bowled a strike...and that was definitely not due to skill!

Kyle, Samantha, and Caitlin

We were a very casual bunch of bowlers--mostly talking and bowling in no particular order. It was great to get to hang out because some of us don't know many people in Fort Wayne. Future plans are in the works!

Crazy Pinz gets two thumbs up!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The lesson of the weekend: "Fight Like a Girl"

What a weekend—full of Vera Bradley Classic events! I kicked off my first full weekend in Fort Wayne with Cocktails on the Court at the Wildwood Racquet Club for a tournament, tennis exhibition, and mingling.

I have never played tennis, but the outfits were definitely making me consider it! Spotted: pink polka-dotted skirts, striped pink polos, and flowered headbands. I think Nike should be calling for some design collaboration offers very soon...

Venus and Serena who?

The action off the court was casual and relaxed... with lots of pink!

Creative Marketing intern Allegra catching a bite to eat.

Looking good in Loves Me...

During every summer’s beach vacation, my family and I go to the local club’s tennis exhibition for some family fun, free lemonade, and door prizes. Multiple that one time a year by twenty-one years of age and I am no stranger to tennis exhibitions! But these guys blew those beach bums out of the water—I could hardly whip my head around fast enough to catch the return hits.

Tennis pros with their loyal bag-carriers.

Foundation VIPs, including Catherine in the middle.

During the event on Friday night, I was lucky enough to meet the Foundation's Executive Director, Catherine Hill. I volunteered to help set up and Catherine set me up with a date, time, place, and job! Despite her being super busy over the weekend and very in-demand, Catherine always said hi and stopped to chat. She was the epitome of "calm and collected" every time I saw her!

On Saturday, I expanded my usual Fort Wayne stomping grounds and went to Sycamore Hills Golf Club to help set up for the silent auction. The driveway from the road to the clubhouse was lined in pink ribbons--a great way to welcome the guests!

The Vera Bradley stone outside of the clubhouse.

What a beautiful place!

The dinner on Saturday night, the tennis celebration dinner, was expected to have around 300 guests. The golf course staff went to work setting the tables in appropriate Vera Bradley style, and I helped with the silent auction items.

I loved getting to get a sneak peek at the items up for auction. There was something for everyone: an autographed Taylor Swift poster, hand knit baby “Ugg” booties, gym memberships, a tool set, and even a dozen-a-month Cookie Cottage package! (I have heard the Cookie Cottage winner is quite pleased!)

Pre-Vera Bradley: the beginning stages.

The Foundation intern Karen (wearing a super cute volunteer shirt) with the silent auction ringmaster, Kris.

"Prettying" the tables.

Furniture was brought in to make the space feel very "Vera Bradley".

Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate with our plans. Saturday morning had several downpours that caused streams and puddles of water inside the tents! Luckily, we were equipped with plenty of brooms and hands to move everything out of the water’s way.

Rain, rain.... go away!

The final table setting!

When the lights went down, the pink came out!

I came back later in the evening for the dinner--all washed, dressed up, and ready to go. The dinner was excellent and the program was even better. First Pat and Barb took the stage and talked to the audience about their friend Mary Sloan, one of their friends who fought breast cancer and became their inspiration for the Vera Bradley Foundation. Barb introduced the audience to Mary Sloan’s daughters who traveled to be able to attend the weekend’s events.

I am very proud to be a part of everything these two ladies have started!!

Beauty and brains: Catherine!

Catherine took the stage and introduced a local high school student who sang "Fight Like a Girl" by Bomshell (to listen, click here). It is such a great song (I downloaded it and have been playing it on repeat...) and the girl did such a good job!

Her singing caused more than a few audience members to tear up...

Dr. Linda Malkas and Dr. Theresa Guise, members of the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer Research Laboratories, gave the crowd updates on the research occurring at the Indiana School of Medicine in Indianapolis. It is one thing to hear about research from a third party, but another to actually have the involved person telling you their latest news. Even from just listening to their short presentation, their passion was evident.

After the presentation, it was time to hit the dance floor! Urban Legend (from the Foundation concert at Jefferson Pointe a few weeks ago) played such a great variety of songs that it was impossible to sit on the sidelines! I even met Barb on the dance floor--she is a much better dancer than me!

Was this taken during "Single Ladies" or "Love Shack"?

On Monday night, I returned to Sycamore Hills Golf Club for the golf celebration dinner. Same time, same place--but three times the amount of attendees! I helped people find their table assignments, and loved seeing the golf teams walk in... again, in cute outfits! There was a prize for the most creatively dressed team, and it was clear that many were trying to win. I spied bedazzled hats, paisley skirts, and, on the winners, pink (and supposedly high heeled) golf shoes!

The highlight of the evening was definitely the unveiling of the final number. Girls of Foundation friends and family came out with numbered signs arranged to read last year's amount, and then shuffled until they came up with this year's impressive number: $800, 275!

The future of the Foundation helped announce the final amount.

...And the crowd goes wild!

Another personal highlight was the opportunity to meet Michael Jordan's mom! Deloris Jordan is a friend of Pat's and was able to come to the end of the weekend events. Karen met her at another Classic event and very kindly introduced me to her! (She is Kind Karen, after all!)

Mrs. Jordan and Karen

I still can't believe it: I am with Mrs. Jordan and Patricia R. Miller!

It was such a great weekend! It was impossible to leave any of the events without feeling energized and fired up to help in every way possible. On my way home, I called my mom and told her to start looking for a golf foursome and planning a cute outfit... she is coming next year!