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Retail Qualification takes Holly from job hunter to gold medal winner


Holly Phelwasher started 2014 seeking a job in fashion retailing. By July she was a Gold Medal winner at WorldSkills NZ, after earning her National Certificate in Retail.

 “I was a stay-at-home mum with a two-year old and a four-year old.” Holly has always wanted a job in fashion but her lack of retail experience was holding her back. “I love different clothes and mixing up styles. I saw an ad in the paper and did the National Certificate in Retail Level 2 at EIT (Eastern Institute of Technology)”.

Going back to studying was a big decision for Holly. She had left school in 2010 and was now a busy mum to two pre-schoolers. Travelling to EIT meant catching a bus twice a day.

“Taking up studying was quite intense at the start, just trying to get used to it, but it worked itself out. It was a good challenge for me.”

After completing the 15-week course, Holly got her fashion job as Retail Associate in the womenswear department at Farmers Napier. She had also signed up for the ServiceIQ Visual Merchandising event at the WorldSkills NZ competition, which was held in Hamilton in July. The competition gave her the opportunity to demonstrate some of the skills she’d learnt through the National Certificate in Retail.

“The competition was over two days. We sat down and talked about our vision and concept plan, and then made a window display. We pretty much had a blank canvas and could do just about anything we wanted to do.”

Holly’s hard work and creativity paid off, with her winning the event and being awarded the gold medal.

There were other benefits too – Holly now gets to use her visual merchandising skills at Farmers, adding a bit of variety to her work.

Holly 01

Holly’s dream is to be a fashion buyer, keeping ahead of the trends, putting styles together and buying lots and lots of new clothes. In the meantime she is considering moving into management one day, and knows this would mean taking further studying to gain more qualifications.

Her advice for someone looking for a retail job is to get the National Certificate in Retail. “It’s a big advantage because retailers want people with experience. So for someone who doesn’t have that experience, getting the Certificate would be the best option. For me it was a success because I tried for years to get a retail job and I had no luck. Now I’m working in fashion and I love it!”

ServiceIQ’s retail training starts with Skills Online courses in customer service and other retail skills. These cost just $25 each and can be completed in an hour or so. Full qualification National Certificate programmes are available at Levels 2, 3 and 4, and can be completed on-job as well as through a provider, with the Level 2 National Certificate also available completely online. For more information click here.

For more information, please contact ServiceIQ on 0800 863 693 or email