Archives for March 2015
Anne Mullins is a solution consultant for Infor Fashion PLM, an application that helps creative, technical, and commercial teams in the fashion industry manage all aspects of product development. Anne has been involved in the development of Infor Fashion PLM since the early planning stage of the solution in 2011.
Before joining the tech industry, you were a fashion designer. Tell us about your education and career in fashion.
I graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology where I specialized in knitwear design and then worked as a design director in Manhattan. I think I satisfied my right brain in those 13 years but often neglected my left. So when the opportunity came up to help implement software for designers and product developers in the fashion industry, I absolutely jumped at the chance. I was thrilled by the new technology—this was in the mid-90s, when tech in the fashion industry was really young. Operations had been using ERP for many years, but most creative teams still sketched by hand and calculated size grading in our heads. There was a real need to make the process more efficient and to help designers manage the technical side—images, specifications, materials, costs.
What was your transition like into tech?
I needed to learn everything. There wasn’t a computer on my desk the entire time I was a designer. The copy and fax machines were my best friends. I needed to learn how to use a computer, how to install software, how to use Windows and commonplace programs like Microsoft Office.
So you learned on the job?
I did! It was a very different world. My daughter had a computer in front of her at age four and a cell phone by the time she was eight. You grow up with technology now and you just know it, but back then we didn’t. When they hired me, there was no such thing as a business consultant who knew both the software and the fashion industry. I was brought on to bridge that gap—they hired me because I could go to customers, talk their talk, walk their walk, ask the right questions, while I eventually became deeply knowledgeable about the software that I was helping implement.
How did your experience as a designer influence the way you think about technology—how it should work and how to use it?
In so many ways. Early enterprise solutions, such as ERP, were green screen—all text and no mouse. I was glad I didn’t have to use them. When I used the earlier product development solutions, I would often wonder: Why do I have to click here, there, and then dig into this window and that window to look up or enter information?
Now that we’re a few generations in, we’ve started looking at the user’s perspective. A creative person like a designer is very good at that. Fashion designers, in particular, need to be very agile and do things in the most succinct way. We question why a task takes five steps when it could be done in two, or why you can’t complete actions en-mass or drag and drop. Designers have a wonderful way of coming up with creative and often out-of-the-box solutions to difficult challenges.
Tell us about your involvement with the upcoming Project Fash Bash event that Infor is hosting at its headquarters. What about the event are you most looking forward to?
We’ve teamed up with this incredible PBS show called SciGirls that’s all about empowering girls to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). At the event I’ll be showing 40 young girls how to design a party dress using fashion software. I think it will be very meaningful for the girls to understand the reality of fashion design. Designing a dress is not just about a pretty dress—there’s cost, materials, matching the right price to your retailer. Software makes the business side of fashion design really easy and frees designers to spend more time being creative.
Do you have any advice for girls who are interested in tech?
Go for it! If you’re technically inclined, you’re going to have a blast working in tech and looking for better ways to do everything in life. Technology touches us everywhere. There are so many opportunities, and it’s only going to grow.