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!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Store Opening!

Last week, I was lucky enough to attend a new Vera Bradley Store opening in Ohio, at Beachwood Place Mall. Joined by two of my co-workers from Human Resources, Ryan and Amy, I was thrilled to finally be attending one of these events. For months, I've read all of the tweets about each new store, wishing I lived closer. While in Cleveland, we attended the Friends and Family event and the Grand Opening.

Day 1: Friends and Family

We were greeted by this adorable Boysenberry sign (pictured below), a helpful guide to the new location. We were beyond excited, considering this was the first store opening for each of us.

Whatever expectations we had were completely blown away by how busy the store was when we arrived. The lines of people waiting to checkout and to get in were evidence of the amazing job the team did setting up the new location. Everything looked beautiful!

There were so many dedicated Vera Bradley fans that came out for the first night, they didn't even mind waiting in the checkout line!

Though the evening was titled "Friends and Family Night," everyone was welcome to come in. There were loyal Vera Bradley fans carrying classic prints like Medallion, little girls with their moms holding their Caitlyns and even some ladies who were visiting a Vera Bradley Store for the very first time. Guests and fans new and old snacked on Boysenberry cupcakes almost too beautiful to bite and sipped from Viva la Vera water bottles.

The delicious Boysenberry cupcakes from the White Flower Cake Shoppe.

These little bottles of water were so cute, some people kept theirs as a keepsake!

The evening turned out to be the biggest store opening in Vera Bradley history, and I loved being a part of it.

Day 2: Grand Opening

The official opening was the next morning, so we arrived early to help with last-minute preparations, and to attend the ribbon cutting. The team had restocked the shelves and made sure everything looked absolutely perfect before the doors opened.

Oh, the colors ...

I was constantly making my own Wish List in my head as I walked around the store ...

This was my favorite product display - I just love Lemon Parfait!

Arvin, the Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives, had the honor of being the one to perform the ribbon cutting, and posing for all the pictures beforehand.

The beautiful staff members before the opening.

Arvin, announcing the 43rd Vera Bradley retail store, in Beachwood Place Mall.

These are the dedicated Vera Bradley fans that got to enter the store first, after waiting in line.

Once the ribbon was cut, the store was officially open and it was time to shop. We helped customers find the right bag and color, which I thought was so much fun! First, the back room is amazing. Just imagine ... every bag in every pattern. Second, I loved getting to hear the customers' stories. Whether they were waxing poetic and reminiscing about patterns, reliving a trip they made to the Outlet Sale or rehashing how they were introduced to our products, everyone had something special to share.

Just shopping away!

Checking out some of the City Look products.

Before we knew it, it was time to head back to Fort Wayne. It is safe to say that our trip to Cleveland was a success, and such a good time! I loved seeing how the retail side of the business functions. As an avid shopper, seeing the details of a store opening from behind the scenes was a great insight into how a company creates a great customer experience.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

My New Home Sweet Home

Since I am not a Fort Wayne resident, I was grateful when the Human Resources department provided me with several suggestions for affordable, safe housing options in the area. After some careful deliberation, I chose an apartment on the city's north side. It came fully furnished (which my Dad appreciated), and ended up being beautiful (which my Mom and I appreciated).

My apartment complex.

Our living room, with some one-of-a-kind artwork painted by my very talented Grandma Estelyn.

HR also paired me up with another intern, Kelley, for a roommate. Kelley is the Product Development intern, so she gets to design beautiful bags every day. I'm used to living with 75 other girls in my sorority house during the school year, so I am extremely grateful to have someone to come home to after work. Since move-in day, we've had the time of our lives decorating our space with hand-crafted decor, hosting weekly intern dinners, and exploring the city together. I have to say that I think this is a match made in Vera Bradley heaven!

My roommate, Kelley, and I at a TinCaps game.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Truly Vera Celebration

The finale of the Vera Bradley Classic is the celebratory dinner at Sycamore Hills Golf Club following the Golf Tournament. With a silent auction, delicious meal and other exciting events, it's one of the best tickets in town for supporting the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer.

Exclusive Vera Bradley tennis bags, crafted each year strictly for the Classic.

The Vera Bradley bike; one of the most sought-after items, and so adorable!

This Viva la Vera chair would be a beautiful addition to the decor in my apartment.

This year the Classic went techie. All auction bidding was done through an online system.

One of my jobs for the evening was to teach guests how to use the online bidding system.

The tent decorations were beautiful. Lots of pink, of course!

The beautiful centerpieces looked so elegant that evening (and on my desk the following morning).

Vera Bradley's fearless leaders, Barbara Bradley Baekgaard and Patricia R. Miller, welcomed everyone and thanked them for their support.

Executive Director for the Vera Bradley Foundation, Catherine Hill, spoke about the advancements in research.

The tent was filled with 1,000 people, all supporting the cause.

A flash mob capped the evening and announced the grand total the 2011 Classic raised.

This year, our annual golf and tennis event raised an amazing $945, 185 for breast cancer research! Each year the Foundation surpasses their goal and the amount that was raised the year before, so just imagine what they will be able to do in the future!

This weekend was the result of lots of hard work and dedication from so many. It was about the cause and making strides toward change, but, for me, it was also an indescribable way to mark my first official weekend as a temporary Fort Wayne resident.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Weekend of Golf, Tennis, and Plenty of Pink

Every June, the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer holds the Vera Bradley Classic, a 4-day event with tennis, golf and celebration dinners, all coated in pink. I volunteered with Foundation intern, Michelle, who was kind enough to work on this post with me.

Tennis Tournament

On Saturday, 68 teams (136 women) competed for Vera Bradley bragging rights at Wildwood Racquet Club in Fort Wayne. This was my first experience with the Classic, and everyone was so welcoming and sweet. Of course, when you are surrounded by adorable Twirly Birds Pink decorations, you can't help but have a great time. I sold merchandise and handed out gifts to the participants (sunglasses and Totes in Twirly Birds Pink), so I was a pretty popular girl that day.

Some of the participants watching an exhibition match.

Jill Nichols, the EVP of Philanthropy and Community Relations, showing off her tennis skills.

One of the teams, rocking their new Vera Bradley Miller Bags and sunglasses.

Golf Tournament

With Monday came the biggest part of Classic weekend ... golf day! With 113 teams (452 golfers) spread across three tournaments at two courses, we definitely had a lot to orchestrate. The 9-hole tournament was held at Fort Wayne Country Club, and the 18-hole tournament took place at Sycamore Hills Golf Club. Fortunately, we had beautiful weather, amazing participants and a ton of cheerful volunteers.

The day started bright and early around 6 am with one of my favorite activities: Driving around on a golf cart and "Vera-ifying" every hole. I had to hurry so I could make it back to the registration table in time to see all the golfers arriving in their fabulous outfits (arguably the best part of the Classic). It seems when it comes to the Classic, cute outfits are top priority for most, while the ability to golf in said cute outfits is much lower on the list of concerns.

After a few well wishes, all the golfers were off to their start holes, and I believe it can be said with some confidence, a good time was had by all!

A participant looking far more professional than I could ever hope to. Note the pink ribbons!

Just a few of our amazing volunteers working the registration table at Fort Wayne Country Club.

The winners of the most important part of the Classic, the Best Dressed competition!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Vera Bradley 101

For the last three days, the other interns and I have been busy with New Hire Orientation, hosted each month by our Training Department. We met members of the various departments and visited the four Fort Wayne buildings. I never thought I would say that I loved touring a factory or that I enjoyed a presentation about IT, but this week I definitely did.

We started the week off at our Industrial Road office, where departments like Finance, Customer Service, and Direct and Indirect Sales are located. In addition to the tour and presentations, we also had the opportunity to observe some of the Customer Service representatives, whose product knowledge and dedication to the brand is so inspiring!

Industrial Road

Our next stop was Adams Center Road (ACR), where manufacturing takes place. We watched the team there quilt fabric, cut pieces for the bags, and sew and assemble the bags, which completely amazed me. Each of the bags coming from ACR is sewn by hand. Talk about talent.

It was a dream come true for me to see the huge bolts of fabric in all of my favorite colors. My mind was racing with ideas for things I could craft and make with them; the options are endless!

Next up, we traveled to Production Road, where I spend most of my time. Even though I am somewhat familiar with the departments here (Product Development, the Foundation, Marketing, and Visual Merchandising), I loved getting a more in depth look at what they do from the people who know best. The highlight by far was touring Product Development, where the magic happens. Thinking about how each pattern, bag, and collection is created from scratch in this building, where I work every day, reminds me that I truly hit the internship jackpot.

Production Road

Last but certainly not least, we visited Stonebridge, the distribution facility. This is where they store product, fill online orders and distribute merchandise to retailers. All of their systems are so efficient, and seeing how dedicated the company is to quality control and customer experience really reinforces the eight core values, and how they're applied each and every day.


Unfortunately, there is one location that we did not get to visit ... Vera Bradley's New York office. While I'm sure they would love to take every new hire to The Big Apple to see their product development office, it just isn't possible. But hey, a girl can dream, right?

The view from the New York office - 5th Avenue and Central Park!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The VB Intern Life

I'm quickly learning that Vera Bradley's Intern Program consists of much more than just providing future professionals the opportunity to work in various functional areas of the company. In addition to our work, we have each been delegated a summer project, which we review with our fellow interns when we meet periodically, and that we will give presentations about at the end of the summer.

To broaden our knowledge and enhance our presentations, representatives from each area come to teach us about their roles in the company's overall mission. By the end of the summer, we should have a deep understanding of how Vera Bradley functions as a whole. Two weeks ago, we heard from Jeff Blade, Vera Bradley's CFO (and a fellow Butler Bulldog), about the Initial Public Offering, and how that has impacted the company so far. Last week, we met Melissa Schenkel and Susan Doctor from Marketing, for a rundown on branding and the use of media outlets for promotion.

Almost all of the interns – and yes, we did separate ourselves into groups of boys and girls.

Every summer the Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce also has a program called Live, Learn, and Intern. Designed to encourage young professionals to explore the city, this program gives people like me entertaining options in a place I don't know very well (since I'm not from the area). Best of all, it's free! So this week we went bowling at Indiana Tech, and as always, the Vera interns had a fabulous time.

Taking a break from the bowling action.

We also gathered for a casual, get-to-know-each-other dinner, which was definitely a success. We talked about work, our projects, our hometowns and, of course, the products we've been seeing that we'd love to have, and the previous weekend's events for the Foundation! Next up? There has been talk of a possible trip to Cedar Point, some TinCaps games and a lot of just hanging out at my apartment with my roommate (a fellow Vera intern). I'll be sure to share our adventures on Behind the Seams!

Dinner at Flat Top Grill.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Very Vera First Day

On my first day at Vera Bradley, I went to our Industrial Road office to begin orientation. Not all of the interns started on the same day, so there were only about six or seven of us (there are 15 now). We learned about the internship program, the company and received a tour of the building. I then made the short drive over to the building in which I will be spending most of my time, the office on Production Road.

Production Road Office

When I walked in the front door, I completely fell in love. From the shelves of new and old products to the adorable seating area, everything around me was so "Vera". Production Road is actually Vera Bradley's original office, where all operations were once housed, including Product Development, Manufacturing, Distribution, and all Business Operations.

This just looks so inviting!

I love that I get to see this ... every day.

At Production, I was finally able to make it to the Human Resources area (affectionately known as the HR Cave). I met everyone on our team and started to get settled into my desk. As the day went on, I had to keep reminding myself that this wasn't just a one day deal, but I really get to work at this amazing company all summer long.

My desk - Complete with photos of friends and family, and some Vera too!

Now, two weeks later, it is starting to truly sink in, and thankfully I don't feel like someone is going to tap me on the shoulder and tell me that it is time for me to leave. The next step will be finding the willpower to overcome my constant desire to buy every bag, accessory or cute stationery item I see. Wish me luck with this one ... I'll need it!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Beginning of Something Very Colorful

Hi! I am Stephanie, and I am currently in week two of my dream internship at Vera Bradley. I am working in Human Resources for the summer, and the beginning of my time here has been spent learning about this amazing company, getting to know my coworkers, and adjusting to my new surroundings and schedule.

To help us get acquainted, here is some more information about me ...

This fall I will be a senior at Butler, where I am a Marketing major with a Communication Studies minor. I am a true Indiana girl at heart, since I grew up on a farm in southern Indiana and then transplanted myself to Indianapolis for college a few years ago, and now I am living in Fort Wayne for the summer. Usually, my summer is spent lounging by the pool, going to small-town festivals and showing cattle, but this one will be slightly different ... and I couldn't be any happier! I also love crafting, being social, and of course blogging!

If you followed Behind the Seams last summer, you probably remember Libby, who just graduated from Butler (Congrats, Libby!). Since ours is such a small school, I actually know Libby and read all of her posts. Before I finished my junior year and she moved on to the next chapter of her life, we met up so she could give me some tips for my summer as the intern blogger.

Libby's Blog Survival Guide:
  1. Carry a camera everywhere. You never know when a Kodak moment could pop up. My fellow interns came to realize that if I was around, whatever we were doing was going to be on the blog!

  2. Think outside the office. The magic happens inside the Vera Bradley offices, but there is more to the company than handbags. I had tons of fun at the Vera Bradley Classic and being in a Fort Wayne parade. It's a great way to meet new people and share the amazing company culture.

  3. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Whether you're brainstorming ideas, proofreading or gathering feedback, learn from the talented people around you! The Web team was awesome and provided me with many entertaining photo opportunities!

  4. Last but not least ... Be yourself! Last summer, readers got a true peek at my life, from my work desk down to my favorite shoes!

Libby and I at the Bulldog - A famous Butler landmark!