University of South Carolina senior Madelyn Gilliam's drive and ambition, along with opportunities offered by the university's Department of Retailing, are allowing her to build an impressive resume even before graduation.
Gilliam is currently working with Marigold Modern Kids, completing the second of two internships required to earn a Bachelor of Science in retailing with an area of concentration in fashion merchandising and digital innovations.
Gilliam began as a sales associate with the company in 2022. Her job performance impressed owner/founder Louisa Vann, who promoted her to buying intern.
As part of Gilliam's internship, Vann asked her to represent the company at a trade show, but not just any trade show. Gilliam traveled to Florence, Italy, to attend Pitti Bimbo, a trade show for European childrenswear brands, as a junior buyer.
She spent three days at the show, learning about leading retailers' upcoming collections. She also networked with different brands and designers, promoting the Marigold Modern Kids brand name and making valuable industry connections. She also conducted market research on the present and potential future trends.
"I learned that being a buyer is more than just writing orders and trend forecasting," Gilliam says. "It also involves a lot of communication and quick thinking. I also learned more about the wholesale process and the different rules that protect vendors and buyers."
Gilliam, a Spartanburg native, has made the most of her time at USC, taking advantage of opportunities outside the classroom while excelling academically with multiple appearances on the Dean’s List.
She has also been a member of student organization Fashion Board and the USC student chapter of the National Retailing Federation. She spent a month in the summer of 2023 studying abroad, completing luxury design and management classes at Parsons Paris and at Polimoda in Florence.
She also joined other retailing students from USC and all over the U.S. in 2023 and 2024 at the National Retail Federation Student Experience in New York City.
Gilliam's reason for choosing retailing as her major was simple. "I just always loved clothes. It’s everyone’s answer," she says.
She has turned that love into the foundation of a stellar future career. She plans to be a buyer, but after hearing from Maggy London executives during a recent tour arranged by the Department of Retailing, she is now open to the wholesale side of the industry.
Whatever specific path she takes, she will begin with an impressive foundation, and with faculty, staff and employers eager to speak highly of her and offer references. To say the least, the future is bright, thanks in part to her decision to attend USC.