Visit most libraries, and you can expect to check out a few books or a DVD. However at the Macy’s Artwork Library, our teams check out “artwork” – a fun animal print or a whimsical floral pattern that will dominate the next design on the Macy’s selling floor. The Macy’s Artwork Library has become an important thread in the business processes of Macy’s Private Brands. We took a behind-the-scenes tour with the Artwork Library team to share the story of how this unique resource drives our business forward.
The Artwork library houses the “artwork” which our Private Brand teams use as inspiration when creating original apparel for Macy’s. The idea for the library started from one simple question: why don’t we have all our artwork patterns in the same place? From there, our Private Brands team enlisted a Macy’s “librarian” to help. Kelly Zangrillo, Assistant Project Manager, Artwork Library, BPI, turned an empty room into an actual library complete with collections, tags, library reference numbers, a check-out system, and an online archive cataloguing the artwork. The catalogue is a helpful guide for designers who visit the library, which officially launched on July 9, 2018.
Why does Macy’s purchase these works of art? Fashion exclusivity is key to Macy’s success. A crucial way our assortment is differentiated in the minds of our customers is through Macy’s Private Brands, available only in our stores and on macys.com. Our private brands are Macy’s trademark creations, designed in-house from start to finish. With that, the patterns and prints used to create these styles are considered proprietary artwork and are owned by the company. The artwork has been purchased by Macy’s over the years, and the library currently holds more than 9,000 artworks.
In partnership with Kelly, two colleagues, Sara Wilson, Senior Project Manager, BPI and Courtney Agnes, Associate Product Manager, BPI, took on the project over more than a year ago. Former designers for Charter Club and Style & Co, both now work on the BPI (Business Process Improvement) team, focusing on the business processes which support the private brands they used to design for.
The library is a source of collaboration for the many teams that use it, including the numerous Macy’s Private Brand Design and CAD (computer-aided design) teams. The library has created alignment and dialogue, not only between different teams, but between the different private brands.
“It’s a great place to come together as the Macy’s design community, and produce collaboration between the sister brands. If I’m in Style & Co, and I see that Alfani has used a particular artwork, I can go and consult them, how did this work for you?” said Courtney. The library also creates more transparency between design departments that were traditionally separate: “For example, say intimate apparel wants to do a fun family pajama. They can check out the Artwork Library archives and borrow a print used from Kids,” she added.
Designers from different teams cross paths in the library constantly. “Colleagues are here daily; they use the library for inspiration for their concepts, and then work with the product and management teams to develop them,” said Sara. “It helps them determine the direction they want to go in, prior to making those big financial decisions to buy another. This empowers the designers, putting more decision-making into their hands and allowing them the creative authority to interpret these patterns according to their vision.”
The library will become only more valuable as time goes on. It’s still growing as the team collects and records new artworks acquired by Macy’s. The Artwork Library has become an important stitch in our business process – uniting our design community, our many private brands, and our different teams.