If you have a passion for fashion and like to shop until you drop, becoming a personal shopper could be the right career path for you. You’ll essentially be shopping for a living, while staying on top of the latest trends in fashion, visiting your favourite stores and generally helping clients find items that are a good fit for their body type and skin tone.
The plus side? You don’t have to pay a penny. What you do need is an outstanding knowledge of your shopping area and good connections with the sales assistants and store managers so they make your client feel like royalty.
So, if you’re prepared to take on the challenge, keep reading and find out what it takes to become a personal shopper.
1. Research the Profession
To make sure that this stylish profession is right for you, you’ll need a clear understanding of what the job involves, what kind of salary you can expect and what your working conditions will be like, as outlined below.
Personal shoppers and stylists assist clients who don’t know how to shop for themselves, who want to change their style or who simply don’t have the time to go shopping.
You’ll typically have to analyse your client’s wardrobe, pick out stores and items that will suit them, and then create a shopping plan and ensure that clothes are chosen and ready to be tried on when they arrive for their shopping trip.
Although the job may vary between ages and genders, day-to-day tasks will usually involve the following:
- reviewing and following fashion trends for your chosen niche
- helping clients with their groceries or other personal requests
- making appointments with clients and consultants, and keeping an organised diary
- determining and managing budgets
- meeting with clients to discuss their shopping needs
- creating plans and schedules, and suggesting them to clients
- keeping clients informed on latest products
- advertising your business through various marketing strategies
- keeping a social media presence and posting regularly to drum up business
- managing accounts, taxes and other business duties
- maintaining relationships with existing clients.
Essential Skills and Qualities
It takes a specific type of person to succeed in the cutthroat fashion industry and deal with difficult clients on a daily basis.
In order to progress in the business, you’ll generally need to:
- have great communication and interpersonal skills
- be passionate and creative
- have a good understanding of others and the ability to read people’s body language
- have high levels of patience and perseverance to deal with difficult clients and push through a hard day
- have excellent selling techniques
- be motivated and determined
- have a bubbly, approachable and friendly personality – you want your clients to feel comfortable in your presence
- be trustworthy
- be flexible – a client might not like your schedule, so you will need to adapt quickly and create a new plan to ensure their needs are met
- have physical dexterity – you’ll be spending long hours on your feet and walking around, so you’ll need good stamina
- have good networking skills.
Working Hours and Conditions
If you don’t want to be restrained by a typical 9-to-5 job, then this role is perfect for you! If you’re working for yourself (which is usually the case for many personal shoppers), you’ll decide your own working hours, based on the demand for your services.
That said, you could be called for an emergency late at night – for example, a high-profile client might need shoes for an event, so you will need to make sure you’re available at all hours of the day.
If you do prefer set working hours, you could look for opportunities at large retailers – Bloomingdale’s in the US, for example, offer personal shopping services, as does Bicester Village in England.
When you’re not on the job, you’ll spend a lot of time at networking events or on social media trying to establish your personal brand and gain more clients.
Starting salaries for personal shoppers are usually around £14,000 to £18,000. With experience, this can increase to between £19,000 and £23,000, while in high-end retail you’ll typically be able to command a salary of about £25,000.
If you’re self-employed, you’ll be able to set your own rates, which will largely depend on your location and clientele. Generally speaking, though, you could make an average £250 for a day’s work.
2. Get the Qualifications
There are no formal qualifications for breaking into the personal shopping world, though obtaining some form of certification can be advantageous. This can take the form of a two-week training course in fashion and personal styling or a bachelor’s degree in fashion.
There’s a number of prestigious schools around the world that offer courses in fashion styling. Some of the best include:
- Istituto Marangoni – offered in Milan, Firenze, Paris, London, Mumbai and Miami
- London College of Fashion – offered in London
- Fashion Institute of Technology – offered in New York City
3. Land Your First Job
Getting your first gig isn’t as easy as nagging a standard office job.
Generally speaking, you’ll need to build a good reputation for yourself before you gain your first paying client, if you choose to take the self-employment route. The best thing to do is gain experience in a retail position and start off by offering free services to family and friends. Word will then travel and within a short period you should get your first proper job.
4. Develop Your Career
Progressing in the fashion industry as a stylist can be difficult and requires a lot of hard work and dedication on your part. The following tips will help you advance in your career.
Figure Out Your Niche
Personal shopping requires a wide array of styles, but you’ll naturally be better in one area than the others. It’s important to identify where your passion really lies early on in your career and to stick to developing your clients around that area. For example, you might be better at styling women more than men or you might prefer accessories to clothes.
Print Business Cards
To make yourself look professional, you need business cards – even if you are only offering freebies to begin with. Be sure to use your style and print quality carefully; you ideally want to go with a design that’s fun and creative and something that matches your own personality.
Create a Website
Before you even begin, it’s vital to have a running website with a portfolio of your work and client testimonials. In such a digital age, a professional online presence is important more than ever before, so it’s essential that you update your website on a regular basis to show that you’re keeping up with current trends.
Be Active on Social Media
The fashion industry is a fast-paced one, which means that there’s no time to rest! When you’re winding down from a busy day, be sure to tap into your social media accounts, like Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook, and let your followers know what you’ve been up to and what you’ve been working on. This way they will not only get to see your work but will also get to know you as a person.
Remember: most of the role involves communicating with people and listening to your clients, as well as networking and making lasting business connections in the industry.
Does this sound like a career you want to pursue? If so, join in on the conversation below and let us know your thoughts…
Salary information is based on data compiled and published by the National Careers Service.