At Tapestry, the retail company’s name isn’t just a play on words.
Global brands like Coach, Kate Spade New York and Stuart Weitzman are united under Tapestry’s umbrella to not only deliver best-in-class products, but experiences — for both their consumers and the employees that create them.
In support of this mission, every year Tapestry offers a summer intern program and a year-round design apprenticeship to elevate up-and-coming students with a well-rounded portfolio and sharper skill sets as they emerge into the industry.
“As we think about the future of Tapestry, we want to make sure that we are creating a truly inclusive environment within our organization — one that really drives innovation and a sense of belonging for individuals across all levels within the company,” said Director of Talent Acquisition Kristin Suraci. “We want to make sure that we’re fostering an atmosphere that is driving development of our employees and building an inclusive culture from the ground up.”
Manager of Talent Acquisition, Equity, Inclusion & Diversity Alfreda Nwosu agrees.
“Our work focuses on finding innovative ways to engage with the different communities that reflect our ever-changing and diverse consumer base,” she said. “We aim to showcase what it is like to work for a purpose-led organization like Tapestry.”
Whether it’s through exciting new partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities, attending career fairs on college campuses throughout the year, working alongside nonprofit organizations or empowering employees at retail stores to grow within the company, Suraci and Nwosu are partnering with people leaders to think more expansively about talent and applicants from a diverse set of backgrounds. Overall, they are committed to making the future of Tapestry inclusive — and equitable.
MAKING IMPACT BY GIVING BACK
Beyond focusing on inclusion inside the company, Tapestry is also working to make a difference in its communities. That’s how teams at the company recently surpassed more than 100,000 collective hours of volunteering and charity work in local communities — two years ahead of their initial goal. “We thought we were going to meet this goal by 2025, which just goes to show how passionate we all are here!” Suraci exclaimed.
Tapestry’s Career Development
In the past, Tapestry’s internship and design programs have been heavily referral-based, allowing previous candidates and mentors to recommend talented friends and colleagues. However, with an increased focus on equity, inclusion and diversity, Suraci and Manager of Talent Acquisition Antoinette Strickland knew that the application process — like the talent pool — needed to evolve.
“We have strived to embrace a wide range of resources that attract diverse talent to the company,” Suraci said. “Now we not only consider traditional applications, but we also work directly with a large number of universities, participate in more than 16 career fairs each year, and partner with 20 different nonprofit organizations to identify talent with a wide range of backgrounds.”
The overarching goal of these efforts is to give more opportunities to historically underrepresented groups and develop a broad and inclusive class of interns and apprentices.
Each year, once this class is established, Tapestry’s goal segues into multifaceted career development. To help facilitate this, both the summer internship and year-round apprenticeship programs allow students to gain hands-on experience in their specific departments by being paired with a mentor to help guide them through their internship. They are also given exposure to other areas of the business to ensure they gain an understanding of how the company functions holistically through weekly educational speaker sessions with leaders across brands and departments.
Uniting the experience is Tapestry’s culture. The company believes in “standing taller together,” and teams are encouraged to embrace this ideal — and engage in altruistic endeavors such as company-wide volunteer work.
CRUCIAL INTERNSHIP PROGRAM DATES
Every year, Tapestry opens up submissions for summer internship applications at the end of November and accepts all interested candidates through January 16. After submissions are closed, Tapestry enters a traditional review and interview period before extending acceptance notices at the beginning of March. “From there we build our internship program for the following summer, with the 10-week program running from the end of May through early August,” Suraci added.
Accepting the design apprenticeship: For creatives interested primarily in design and creative studio, the goal of the year-long apprenticeship is to bridge the gap of entry-level talent into a corporate setting. Those accepted into the program are able to gain hands-on experience from start to finish, elevating their skill sets to the next level to develop into the talent that Tapestry’s hiring managers — or others in the business — are frequently searching for.
“Our interview process is quite rigorous but fast moving — it’s about two rounds of interviews, and we do require all candidates to share a portfolio,” Strickland said. “It doesn’t have to be a fully built out resource — give me a PDF, that’s fine! I just want to see your capabilities.”
According to Strickland, “The apprentice program is a full-time, paid program in which students are never working under the guise of “experience over pay.”
Students enrolled in the apprenticeship program gain a broad set of experiences, ranging from runway shows to seasonal collections to creating 3D renderings for customer experiences for store openings. Throughout this year-long experience, they receive mentoring from a business leader. At the end of the program, some apprentices will have the opportunity to join the team full time.
“We focus on conducting brand learning sessions so that as a designer, they are better able to understand the work that cross-functional partners such as marketing engage in,” Strickland said. “Seeing what these cross-functional teams do in the digital space — whether it’s marketing, creative studio or visual experience — opens their eyes to the full cycle and how every hand plays a part in a product coming to life. It’s about providing crucial visibility into the process, but also giving them the knowledge and abilities they need to excel in their roles.”
An Increased Focus on EI&D
Tapestry believes in the importance of a level playing field in the fashion industry — granting future generations ample opportunities to grow in the global branding space regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, financial status and more.
That’s why it’s essential to not just diversify the talent pool for future program candidates who might eventually become employees, but properly educate the mentors who can help them get there.
“We provide hiring managers with training on the importance of embracing differences in backgrounds and intentionally engaging the talent pool we have sourced,” Nwosu said. “We’ve had sessions titled, ‘Embracing difference by design’ which focus on how to avoid hiring bias, evaluate candidates fairly and keep inclusion in mind as we mentor the next generation of talent joining us in building a diverse and equitable workforce for our brands.”
By emphasizing a focus on inclusion and equity, Strickland said it’s not only allowed candidates to apply feeling like they have a fair opportunity, but confidently show up as their most authentic and creative selves.
For leaders like Strickland, intertwining EI&D hiring initiatives within the industry is a chance to not only empower future employees to think outside the box when it comes to what consumers can wear, but to ensure that every voice has a space in fashion.
Future Career Opportunities for Program Graduates
Career growth at Tapestry is never linear.
“Our internship and apprentice programs set students and entry-level hires up for success, allowing them to come into our organization with solid experience and ready to hit the ground running,” Suraci said. “As an example, we had an outstanding intern who previously worked in one of our stores. Upon joining our program, she not only invested herself in learning and performing well, but she also networked and built great relationships across the business. As a result, she was hired into a full-time position as an administrative assistant post-program before transitioning into an assistant buyer role, exemplifying the growth and development offered here at Tapestry.”
As a broad global organization, mentors in the program want their students’ hard work to pay off with an abundance of potential career paths — whether it’s in the particular space they already occupy, cross-functionally with different teams or even across a completely different area of the business with a different brand and, in some cases, in a different geographic region.
“You’re encouraged to have ongoing conversations with your manager and set up fluid goals at the onset of every year,” Suraci said. “The leadership teams here are dedicated to helping our people build their careers.”