A Banana Republic Merchant Shares Tips and Tricks for Success

Banana Republic

What’s the one trait that makes for a successful Gap Inc. employee? Curiosity, says Dan Shankle, merchant of men’s wovens and knits at Banana Republic Factory Store (BRFS).  “If you’re always asking why things work or don’t work in our business, you’ll learn something new each day,” he says. Dan sat down with us and discussed what sparked his curiosity in his five years on the BRFS team.

Tell us about your path through Gap Inc. so far. I started in the Gap Inc. Rotational Management Program, where I gained experience across brands and positions — so it helped me see how all the pieces of the company work together. From there, I felt like I had a lot more to learn about the financial side of fashion, so I joined the BRFS team as an allocation analyst. After that I became an inventory planner in accessories, then took on the same role in women’s tops and went on to manage the women's tops inventory management team.

Then I made a pivot: Now I’m in merchandising, as a merchant of men’s wovens and knits.

Why the switch? I felt like I needed to add new knowledge and skills to my toolkit. In inventory management, I learned from some of the best planners and got to know one part of the product life cycle really well — but I wanted to increase my overall understanding of how the business runs. And I am totally product-obsessed, so it was a natural fit to move into merchandising.

What’s the best thing about your current role? I like the scope of the work — the fact that I get to be there for the full product life cycle, and that my job involves a lot more interactions with various partners throughout the process now. The product vision kick-starts the season, and then through the process, my task is to make the vision come to life. As a merchant, I have so many chances to make an impact all along the way, which is important to me.

What do you especially like about being on the Factory side of Banana Republic? I love the brand and what it stands for, and the outlet team is super-scrappy. We run lean, which forces you to be creative and approach every problem in a different way.

What’s kept you at Gap Inc. for five years? Moving between brands and categories has been really valuable. For example, in accessories, we had the freedom to try out strategies at small risk to the overall business, while in women’s knits, it was a bigger category with different challenges. I also love that we have a diverse brand portfolio. I’m constantly asking myself, “What does Old Navy do that would be cool to try at BRFS?” Looking at other brands for inspiration while you navigate through your own brand is so valuable.

What’s your vision for your future here? I’d like to lead a brand, or a team within a brand one day. That role takes someone who can look at multiple functions of the brand, envision the entire product lifecycle, and see how it all comes together. It’s like a big puzzle!

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? Don’t be afraid to admit when something doesn’t work. It’s fashion, so sometimes we do things that don’t work. We need to be able to diagnose why and then fight to get it right. Not every one of our styles is going to track every time! It’s about being confident enough to take the risks, and being smart and fast to fix it if you fail.

Interested in joining the Banana Republic team? Check out our open jobs and follow us on LinkedIn to learn more about working here.

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