A Day in the Life of... Elizabeth Hancock

Have you ever wondered how a College of Technology degree could take one into the world of fashion retail? Elizabeth Hancock, a graduate of the college's Retailing and Elizabeth HancockConsumer Sciences program, answers questions and gives great advice to students considering a similar path.

Elizabeth is the store manager of Tres Chic, a women's clothing and accessories boutique in Houston. Tres Chic has been the culmination of her dream, combining her passions for fashion and building relationships with women. She and her mother have been running the shop together since 2005, and the shop has been named by the Houston Chronicle as one of the top 10 boutiques in Houston. On the side, Elizabeth is also a personal stylist and closet consultant.as well as a member of Women of Wardrobe, volunteering with Dress for Success. See what Tres Chic is about at treschichouston.com.

What degree did you earn, and when did you graduate?

I graduated in 2004 with a degree in Consumer Science and Merchandising (now called Retailing and Consumer Sciences).

What was your first job after graduation from UH?

After interning with The Limited my senior year for my internship class, I got a job working with a high end women's boutique called JoAnne's in Rice Village.

How did you progress to your current position?

After working in retail for a few years, I wanted to do more than sales. I applied for management and buying positions, but hit a wall when I found that all the jobs I was applying for required a minimum of two to five years of experience. It was an infuriating Catch-22 that to get experience, you needed experience. How would I ever find an open door to a new career path?

Momentarily disenchanted by the retail world, I decided to try out non-profit work and took a job coordinating a fundraising event for Texas Right to Life. That was an incredibly challenging and equally empowering work experience for me. It gave me the confidence that I could do almost anything I put my mind and effort towards.

I was floundering to find my career path, unsure that fundraising was my calling. Around this time my mom was pondering the idea of opening a small shop. Having had no prior retail experience, she hoped I would join her in this new venture. As you might imagine, the prospect was exciting, but the thought of my mom becoming my boss elicited some trepidation. It didn't take long, however, to recognize that my dream of running a boutique was being realized – just not the way I envisioned it.

Now, five years later, I can't imagine a more rewarding and exciting career, and it turns out... I love working with my mom!

What are the primary responsibilities of your current position?

The exciting part of my job is that I get the opportunity to do a bit of everything. While the majority of my time is spent on the sales floor building relationships with our customers, I also go on buying trips to New York and Vegas markets, price and ticket merchandise, managing sales staff, and work on advertising and web-site advancement.

What is a typical workday for you?

I make calls to customers, receive, price and ticket new merchandise, re-merchandise the store, schedule upcoming sales, and my favorite part – meet new, awesome women and help them look their best!

What do you like best about your job?

I love most the relationships I build with the amazing customers we have. I so enjoy styling, accessorizing and seeing a woman leave the store feeling more confident and happy than when she first arrived. It is an incredibly rewarding job.

What advice would you give to students considering a career in your field?

Don't be afraid to take hold of your dream. People are looking for a fun and joyous shopping experience, and good customer service is a dying art form. Business smarts are important, but the biggest secret to success is offering a high level of customer service and genuinely caring about your customers!

The College of Technology offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in a variety of majors suited to students wishing to become entrepreneurs in the field of their choice. For information about academic programs, contact the Academic Service Center at 713-743-4100 or visit online at tech.uh.edu/college/academic-services-center. To be featured in a future Day in the Life article, contact Lisa Burns at lcburns@uh.edu and advise your degree and major for consideration.