Summer Entrepreneurial Experiences

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Hanky Panky: The Final Days

Wednesday, July 22, 2015 3:12 pm

Has it been 8 weeks or a blink of an eye? It’s hard to tell but one thing is for sure, the time went way too quickly. The first several weeks were all about discovering the lay of the land and learning the ins and outs of my routine. As a newbie, there were many challenges that I expected to face and some that I had no idea were coming my way. In retrospective, its difficult to believe that I couldn’t tell the difference between the colors lime green, limeade, and key lime pie; an Original Rise Thong and a Low Rise one; a chemise and a babydoll; and fabric scissors and paper ones. The answers to these questions, which originally left me stumped, are now second nature— except the color question, which will forever leave me perplexed.

(See for yourself)

However scary these unknowns were at first, I knew I would figure them out because, lets face it, these are typical intern problems. The challenge that I was completely unready for was finding my confidence.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I wrote an essay critiquing the aesthetics and appeal of Hanky Panky’s website and other social media outlets from the point of view of a millennial. The ideas and suggestions that came from this write up worked themselves into the various different departments and helped develop my “project,” if you will, which I spent the next several weeks working on. The goal for my internship and in the longer term is/was to improve the company’s interaction with people of my generation. To initiate this, I worked extensively with Hanky Panky’s social media outlets to improve their content and eventually improve their number of followers etc.

The fun part, creating the “new and improved” content— I am an art major after all. The not so fun part was finding the confidence to stand behind my art and stick to my opinions. The hardest and most heartbreaking thing that I faced was working for hours on one post, doing it and redoing, and then having one of my superiors brush it off, saying, “ehh, I don’t really like it, or maybe we will use it later etc.” I did not expect everyone to love every piece of work I did but it was still challenging to hear and accept negative opinions. What I found most difficult to deal with was the constructive, and sometimes not so constructive, criticism that changed the whole concept of my work, which I was convinced not only was attractive in and of itself but also was fun and appealed to the millennials. There were pieces that I stood by and pieces that I just had to let go. These interactions taught me many valuable lessons; they taught me the importance of collaboration, the necessity of specificity, and most importantly the power of clear communication.

Once I learned to successfully navigate these interactions the real work was able to begin. Accompanying our improved daily posts to social media outlets, we saw an increased number of followers and a consistent number of likes from post to post. In addition to improving the social media aspect of the company, I was able to brainstorm several ideas with Hanky Panky’s creative director to help the company better connect with the millennials. All in all, I have truly enjoyed my time this summer with Hanky Panky and look forward to working with them in the future.

Hanky Panky: Entrepreneurialism and Leadership

Monday, July 13, 2015 1:38 pm

Hanky Panky, a company created by pioneering minds (Read about their entrepreneurial beginnings here.), has been the ideal place to study and practice leadership and entrepreneurialism. In the past weeks, I have interacted with the various leaders of the organization and observed the qualities that foster inspiration and cohesiveness within a large corporation. It has been a true joy to watch these leaders motivate their colleagues to brilliance through positive encouragement, inquiry and constructive criticism. In working directly with these leaders, I have had very much of the same treatment. I realized that respect, coming from the superior to subordinate, is crucial in forming strong working relationships. In my time at Hanky Panky, I have not once felt like “just an intern.” My opinion is regularly asked, heard and valued—I am part of the team.

Being well aware of my interest in entrepreneurship, Hanky Panky, has afforded me several opportunities to explore this area of their business. Originally, when interviewing for the internship, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to be doing. Something involving creativity, sure; bouncing between the different departments, absolutely; “intern-y” stuff, occasionally but I never imagined that I would create a position that would last into the future.

In my first weeks with Hanky Panky, I was instructed to write a critique regarding their social media and website efforts. I assumed this write up, which turned out to be a 5 page, single-spaced essay was going to be read by my boss, and my boss alone. Little did I know that my provocative, potentially too critical critique was going to be shared with the heads of every department that I had written about. Once my boss emailed me back saying that she had shared it around, I had a little bit of a panic attack. Had I been too straightforward? Did I sound mean, judgmental or snobby? I crossed my fingers and waited for the responses. As one positive response after another came in, I felt relieved. Following that, I arranged to meet and speak with each department for figure out how I could put my thoughts to use. One thread that ran consistently between the departments was that they appreciated the new, millennial point of view. As such, this point of view became pivotal in my work; I was there to give a fresh perspective.

From this experience, I learned that with entrepreneurialism, it can pay to take risks, to speak your mind and to look for opportunities in which you can use your talents to bring value to a company.

Hanky Panky: One of a Kind

Monday, June 29, 2015 2:53 am

To put it bluntly, Hanky Panky is one of a kind and the brand that has been created over the last 30+ years is a unique one. The color and youthfulness that the company brings to their designs separates them from other lingerie companies of the same stature whose main goal is to amp up the “sexiness” of their brand. Another quality that truly sets Hanky Panky apart from is competitors, as well as the majority of companies in the fashion industry, is that all their products are made in the USA. This fact is not only impressive but it is also what defines Hanky Panky as an environmentally conscious organization.

Although the company sees local production as one of their strongest and most important attributes, they must also contend with the challenges that exist as a result of not outsourcing. Being that they produce their products locally, the expenses to the company are significantly higher then they would be should Hanky Panky own high volume producing warehouses in other countries. This is a conscious decision made by the company to promote sustainability, by reducing carbon emissions that result from transportation, and to support healthy and fair working conditions. That being said, this movement does affect the price of and who is able to purchase their lingerie.

The 4811 original rise thong, introduced to the market in 1986, was trademarked “The World’s Most Comfortable Thong” and has been competing with a myriad of knock offs ever since. Although we would like to believe that the quality of and care that goes into a Hanky Panky garment makes it completely worth the price, shoppers who are not always aware of these qualities are likely to seek out a cheaper option. This becomes especially apparent in the case of an identical garment sold by Victoria’s Secret in a 4 for $25 deal when compared to that single matching panty sold by Hanky Panky for $20.

Although this is an issue that Hanky Panky must contend with, it is one that they choose in order to uphold the integrity of their product. By continually promoting domestic production, Hanky Panky not only supports the environment and their workers but also their loyal customers who value and cherish the thoughtfulness of Hanky Panky Lingerie.

Hanky Panky: Collaboration

Monday, June 22, 2015 1:26 pm

Established? Yes. Internationally known? Yes. Elitist, up tight and snobby? Absolutely not. Hanky Panky, despite it’s popular name brand, holds one of the most relaxed working environments I have every been in. Both floors of 373 Park Avenue South, Hanky Panky’s Head Quarters, are formatted in an open concept style. This layout allows for an extremely interactive working space, which is especially helpful to foster creative and partnered thinking. The design team, although working separately at first, eventually comes together to relay and tweak their ideas as a group. They then present their new concepts to the other teams involved in the process. These teams, as I mentioned in last weeks post, are the Raw Material Purchasing team, Planning and Merchandizing, and Sales. All of these teams are necessary in the design process. In the end, it is Sales and Planning and Merchandizing who decide which products will see fruition. These decisions are formed on predictions and calculations based on previous year’s revenue, generated from similar products. Because this process relies on so many different groups of people, teamwork within Hanky Panky is not only important but essential to the productivity of the company. Furthermore, this type of interaction is incredibly beneficial to each member of the company as they learn, throughout their time at Hanky Panky, little bits of the process from start to finish. The design team comes to understand how to create a product that sells while merchandizing learns why one color over another is necessary to round out a collection. This type of collaboration allows for a very cohesively built company.

Hanky Panky: The Roving Creative Intern

Friday, June 12, 2015 8:34 pm

In case you haven’t had a chance to read my earlier blog posts, I will give you a quick refresher. I am working with Hanky Panky, a lingerie company based out of New York City, as their Roving Creative Intern. What this title means is that I have the opportunity to work creatively within all the different departments. For the design department, my jobs vary quite greatly. Today, the project was dyeing bra straps for sample garments.

Yesterday, the assistant designer and myself mixed and matched past seasons lace prints and colors to create new thong concepts for our off price line; we were working to bring new life and inspiration to previously used patterns. On other days, I work to pick out thong trims or help put together inspiration/ design boards. For the design department, we have weekly meetings to discuss upcoming trends and new styles that we want to bring to fruition. These meetings are especially interesting because they involve the collaboration of several different departments. I learned quickly that just because the designers design something, it doesn’t mean that you will ever see it for sale. After the design team proposes an idea this new color or style must pass the approval of a few different groups: the Raw Material Purchasing team, Planning and Merchandizing, and Sales. Many beautiful concepts get rejected solely because the proper trim for the material cannot be acquired or because the Sales team predicts a poor buy up. Although disappointing, this is the reality of the industry.

For the Visual and Branding department, I have primarily been working to create fun, new Instagram and social media posts. In the last few weeks, I have designed and created upwards of 20 Instagram posts for Hanky Panky. That might not sound like a significant amount, however, when it takes 3-5 hours to make a singular post, the time adds up. Before posting anything to Instagram it has to go through an approval process. Often, this process sends me back to the drawing board to tweak little or major things. In addition to working with Instagram, I have written several, “Diary of a Hanky Panky Intern” blogs, which are scheduled to be posted sometime next week. These articles give insight on the journey that brought me to the 373 Park Avenue South Panty Palace, as our headquarters are fondly known.

All in all, the last several weeks have be incredibly productive. The quality and frequency of our social media posts have increased significantly. We also have had an overwhelmingly positive response to the new style of images that have been shared. Go check out my work on Instagram at https://instagram.com/hankypankyltd/ .

From Hanky to Hanky Panky: A Brief History

Friday, June 5, 2015 8:58 pm

In 1977, Gale Epstein, Hanky Panky’s now President and Creative Director, gifted a set of handmade lingerie to her friend Lida Orzeck, Hanky Panky’s current Chief Executive Officer. The original Hanky Panky panty was crafted out of embroidered handkerchiefs, a name which nods at the company’s now famous brand. 1986 was a break through year for Hanky Panky in which they trademarked “The World’s Most Comfortable Thong,” style 4811 original rise. The popularity and prestige of this garment, as well as the company on a whole, exploded in 2004 when 4811 graced the front pages of The Wall Street Journal with the accompanying description of “lace butter.” Although these superlatives were fabulous press, they came with their share of competition, as everyone wanted to make their own version of “The World’s Most Comfortable Thong.” This by far is one of the largest challenges that Hanky Panky faces. The knockoffs, however superficially similar to 4811, range greatly in price, fit and feel and could never surmount the original. Hanky Panky strives to compensate for their higher prices by insuring quality. All Hanky Panky products are made from start to finish in the USA, the working conditions for all those involved in the process are guaranteed humane and the signature long life of their exclusive, copyright protected laces is continually promised. It is these efforts to remain globally conscious in a business that tends to prefer economic prosperity over sustainable practices that renders Hanky Panky an admirably entrepreneurial company.

Fitting In

Sunday, May 31, 2015 8:15 pm

Almost halfway through my college and pre-med career, I decided that I needed a change. After 3 semesters of cramming my brain full of organic and inorganic chemistry, human physiology, calculus and the like, I realized that becoming a doctor just wasn’t in the cards for me. The more I thought about making the switch from the sciences to art and design, my true passions, the more overwhelmed I got. I had a clear-cut path; complete pre-med at Wake Forest University, do well, take the MCAT, do even better, get into Med School, graduate and… viola– become a doctor. Easy peasy, right? Wrong…but not for the reasons that you would think. Yes, pre-med classes were difficult and yes the competition was fierce but that’s not what I found challenging. What I found most difficult was maintaining interest in medicine in the face of the seemingly irrelevant and arduous pre-med courses. Lacking the passion I needed to move forward, I retrained my focus on a significantly less straightforward career path. Moving away from the sciences and declaring a major in studio art and a minor in entrepreneurship and social enterprise was my first, and only step on this new journey. What was I going to do with a degree in art? I had and still have no idea.

At this point, you are probably wondering how this backstory is at all relevant to an internship with Hanky Panky. Well, two weeks ago, it wasn’t. But after spending the last 14-days working with this wonderful company, I can confidently say that I have added one more stepping stone to my path. Although this step hasn’t gotten me any closer to solidifying a professional focus, I can assure you that it has allowed me to retrospectively gaze at my recent academic decisions with utter happiness.

Coming from a science background with only a semester of college art under my belt and absolutely no design experience, I was horrified that I would be asked to complete many a foreign tasks. And in fact, I was but not without thorough, unassuming guidance. Everyone from the Director of Visual and Branding to the Head of Design instructed each task with clear detail and never hesitated to answer my endless stream of questions. In my two weeks with Hanky Panky, I have not once felt like “just an intern.” My opinion is regularly asked, heard and valued; I am part of a team.

Along with the various small tasks that I will complete, my larger project requires me to work with several different departments. In analyzing Hanky Panky’s ability to interact with the Millennials I will be conferring with the Head of Visual and Branding to improve their use of social media, with Senior Designers to discuss the appeal of new patterns and others to review the success of the website photos. Together we are striving to advance Hanky Panky’s appeal to Millennials while simultaneously staying on brand and accurately representing the company’s refined qualities.

The Devil is in the Details

Monday, May 25, 2015 10:36 pm

Can you tell the difference between the colors lime green, limeade, and key lime pie? What’s the difference between an Original Rise Thong and a Low Rise one? 4:59 and 5:00 pm? A chemise and a babydoll? Fabric scissors and paper ones? Good question. The simple answer…? A whole. Freaking. Lot. After a week of working at Hanky Panky, a lingerie company based out of New York, I have learned one very important thing: the devil is in the details. Although I was immediately thrown into the process of sorting through sample sale underwear, choosing waistband linings for new designs and running errands all over New York City, I considered my role this week primarily observational. I observed the importance of detail that is woven unconditionally into every aspect of the company. In this first week, I learned the answers to the aforementioned questions and was enlightened to the necessity of paying attention to even the seemingly insignificant minutiae. My tasks this week ranged from detailed analyses of potential philanthropic partners to dying and cutting fabrics to sorting through and packaging hundreds of pairs of underwear. Although some of these tasks seemed monotonous at first, they turned out to be an engaging way to study the different styles, designs and colors. In the coming weeks, my primary focus will be developing a report based on the current efficacy of Hanky Panky’s social media in advertising to my generation. I will be critiquing several of their platforms and suggesting ways to improve their appeal to the Millennials.

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