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Do What You Love: The 'Fashion Star'

Do What You Love: The 'Fashion Star' Caprice Willard of NBC's "Fashion Star"

Ever dream about finding a way to do what you love for a living? In my "Do What You Love" column, I ask people who've done it to tell me their secrets. Here's hoping they inspire you to do the same.

You may know Caprice Willard from her role as a featured buyer for NBC’s reality show "Fashion Star.” She’s also a vice president and regional planning manager for Macy’s women’s apparel department.

She tells BusinessNewsDaily in an email interview about why she loves what she does for a living and how you can find a way to do what you love, too.

BusinessNewsDaily: Explain what you do for a living.

Caprice Willard: I am the vice president/regional planning manager for women's apparel for Macy's. I choose styles and trends for approximately 100 stores, from Southern California to Hawaii to Las Vegas that in turn generate millions of dollars in business.

BND: How did you end up doing this for a living? 

C.W.: I was recruited out of college (UCLA) into an executive training program that was designed to teach me everything I needed to know to become a buyer. I worked my way up through the ranks from assistant buyer to sales manager in a store to buyer. From there, I became the vice president of intimate apparel and then cosmetics, basically leading a team of buyers. Ultimately, I made the shift to VP of planning, which is the position I hold today.

BND: What was the crucial decision you made that led you to this place in life?

C.W.: I decided a long time ago that I wanted a career that would be ever-changing, always challenging and offered a lot of personal and professional growth and development. It was also important for me to work for an organization that values its employees and has a strong commitment to the community. I found all of this at Macy's and that is why I have never left. August will officially mark my 19th year at the company!

BND: What did you want to be when you grew up?

C.W.: I see my second act being in some sort of teaching or training role! That's why I love being a manager — I enjoy training and developing my team! This is also why I love being the buyer on "Fashion Star" — helping to develop young designers. Even when I do fashion shows or events — my favorite part is speaking to the attendees and giving them advice on fashion and style trends! I think on some level I was born to be a teacher like my mom — for me, my classroom is the fashion world and my students are new designers and everyday men and women who are trying to navigate through the world of fashion!

BND: Why do you love your job?

C.W.: I love that fashion is ever-changing and retail is such a fast-paced environment — that gives me a thrill!  Literally, every day is different so it is impossible for me to ever feel bored! I also just truly have a passion for fashion — I enjoy discovering the next hot trend and bringing it to the Macy's customers. I get a lot of personal satisfaction from that. Finally — what also keeps me coming back is the people. My team is so amazing and my peers are equally great! We are a family and I really like that!

BND: What's the biggest misconception about your job?

C.W.: The biggest misconception is that we spend all of our time at fashion shows picking out cute clothing! Of course, there is some of that, but many people don't realize retail is a business — we manage a big budget and need to be strong businesspeople while still having an eye for fashion. A good retailer has a healthy dose of both creativity and business savvy — you can't do your job well without both!

BND: If you didn't do your job, whose job would you like to have and why?

C.W.: I would be a talk-show host, dare I say a "mini-Oprah"?  I really enjoy that type of interaction with people.

BND: Do you think having a job you love has made you a better person in other areas of your life?

C.W.: Absolutely!  Work can have a profound impact on your day-to-day life. The fact that I truly enjoy my job makes me a happier, more productive person at home!  The work and life balance is what we all strive for, which I find it much easier to achieve when you actually love what you do!

BND: What's your best advice to other people who are trying to pursue their career dreams?

C.W.: Make a plan and stick to the plan! Make sure the plan has realistic benchmarks and celebrate the successes along the way! Every promotion I got I celebrated with my family — even if I still hadn't reached my end goal, I made sure to still enjoy the ride! 

BND: What's your idea of the perfect retirement?

C.W.: That is a good question. A perfect retirement would be me having time to do even more for the community! Maybe open a fashion institute where students could study for free, allowing them to learn the craft while also exploring their passion. I basically welcome the day when I have even more time to give back. With that said, I also wouldn't mind a little condo on a beach somewhere where my family and I could chill out and I could finally catch up on my reading! 

Jeanette Mulvey

Jeanette has been writing about business for more than 20 years. She has written about every kind of entrepreneur from hardware store owners to fashion designers. Previously she was a manager of internal communications for Home Depot. Her journalism career began in local newspapers. She has a degree in American Studies from Rutgers University. Follow her on Twitter @jeanettebnd.