She talks to the mannequins

She talks to the mannequins
Miss Emily Huang, visual merchandiser at Taiwanese clothing brand iRoo, which has four outlets in Singapore.

If you have a fear of dolls or phobia of human-size figures, you'd better steer clear of this career.

Miss Emily Huang's job as a visual merchandiser requires handling, dressing and hanging out with mannequins. The 33-year-old is responsible for the way clothes are arranged and displayed in the store.

The goal? To entice customers to buy.

And while she may be familiar with mannequins, she has had a fright from them more than once, confesses the employee of Taiwanese clothing company iRoo, which has four stores here and more than 80 outlets in Taiwan.

"In our Ngee Ann City branch, there are about 15 mannequins. When I go home late after a window change, I do get shocked when I accidentally bump into them," says the amicable woman, who was recently promoted to the chief operations officer for the company's Singapore arm.

It gets creepy as the window changes happen after hours in shopping malls, and there is often little light at the time.

"An overhaul of the display can take up to eight hours. I have worked till three to four in the morning."

More horrifying though is when she spots a mannequin with her hand placed awkwardly near her face.

"She will look like she is digging her nose, which is just terrible for projecting a positive image."

It's also not a job for those who recoil at getting their hands dirty.

"Climbing ladders and carrying bulky items is part of the job. It's not as glamorous as people think. Sometimes I look like a vagrant!" Miss Huang admits to talking to the mannequins as she gets them dressed.

"I comb their hair, and tell them to be good and sell the clothes well," she says with a laugh, insisting that she is still in her right mind.

The Taiwanese, who majored in visual communication design at university, has been based in Singapore for the past two years, but flies back to Taiwan once a month.

Visual merchandising does not receive much credit when a brand does well, but the role is integral to making clothes fly off the racks, she maintains.

"You'd be surprised - a simple swop around can really move stock!"

Having been in this line for about 10 years, she is used to being gawked at by passers-by while manoeuvring mannequins in display windows.

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