Fashion foundations

After I graduated from university I was still unsure how to pursue my dream of working in fashion – I’d continued at Tessuti during holidays but I didn’t necessarily just want to work on the shop floor full time. I decided I would set up my own business as a Personal Shopper and I approached my old boss and asked him if I could work at Tessuti part-time while I set up my business. He agreed. I started the following Monday but by lunchtime I’d been “called into the office”. I began to panic and wonder what I’d done wrong.  My boss’ first question was “So what are you doing at the weekend?” “Going to the pub” was my reply. I couldn’t believe the words that came out of his mouth next! “How would you like to go to Milan? I want you to go with our buyer and train as her assistant”. I was stunned. Obviously I didn’t go to the pub!! My next big break came a couple of months later when the buyer moved on from Tessuti and I continued to do the buying, this time with the store owner. What an experience it was. We went to all of the brands I’d dreamt of …Gucci, Prada, Matthew Williamson… it was amazing!!

I learned a lot when working as a buyer – but to be honest, I gained some of the most important skills from working on the shop floor. I got to know about shape and colour and styles that suited and flattered different figures. I learned how to deal with difficult customers (yes there were a few) and how to give my customers the best experience possible so they would come back time and time again. I built up great relationships with a lot of clients. We had famous people in the store – many footballers and their wives and girlfriends. I didn’t realise it at the time – but I was “personal shopping”… giving my customers my undivided attention and finding them the perfect pair of jeans or LBD – never giving up and going the extra mile to try to make the 10th pair of jeans as fun to try on as the first.

This would be an important piece of advice I’d give to anyone wanting a career in fashion – some shop floor experience is vital. To learn how to deal with customers, to understand fit and colour, to feel confident when talking about product, I could go on and on. I stayed at Tessuti for just over 3 years – I was very sorry to leave but I decided to move to London to take the next step on my fashion career ladder…

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