Personal shoppers can do everything from giving a client a complete wardrobe overhaul to shopping for a one-night only special event, or searching out just the right seasonal clothing for a closet update. Although there isn't an educational requirement to becoming a personal shopper, to do the job well, a personal shopper should have a keen eye for fashion and a background working in the fashion industry with boutiques, designers or large retailers.
It's imperative that a personal shopper has contacts in the fashion industry. Having professional relationships with boutique owners, salespeople and designers allows the personal shopper insider access to sales, new clothing lines and perks like shopping before or after hours. The personal shopper can then pass along these perks to his client.
One of the main parts of the personal shopper's job is to pick out clothing for a client. The shopper will generally visit a boutique and search throughout the store to pick out items that will work for that client's specific body type and personality. If the personal shopper has a relationship with the boutique owner, he will be able to take over an entire changing room, getting all the clothing ready in the room for the client to just show up and try on. The shopper may even be able to take the clothing to the client's home to try on in privacy. If the personal shopper has contacts with designers, he may be able to get samples of new lines for the client to try on before they are made available to the general public.
Being able to effectively communicate is a qualification of a great personal shopper. To be successful, the shopper must be able to do something the client hasn't been able to do--find the right clothing for a specific occasion that complements her body type and personality. The only way to do this is to be able to communicate with the client in order to determine what type of clothing will work best. Most personal shoppers give their clients a questionnaire that has specific inquiries, such as their measurements and colour preferences, as well as questions about their lifestyle, in order to decide what clothes will work best. If the personal shopper has a client who spends most of the day caring for young children, the clothing he picks out will have to keep up with those demands. On the other hand, if the client spends most evenings at business functions, the clothing will reflect that. Communication with the client is key.
Personal shoppers must have a business mindset for themselves and the client. For the client, a personal shopper must always stick to the predetermined budget. The client's budget is always discussed before the personal shopper does any buying. The shopper needs to determine how many outfits or individual pieces of clothing the client is hoping to acquire from the set budget. This will also determine where the shopper buys the pieces; a smaller budget won't be spent on designer clothes. The shopper has to figure out how to use the budget to get the best return on the client's investment.
For himself, the personal shopper has to have a business mindset to determine what rate to charge clients. Most personal shoppers charge between £50 and £100 an hour. The personal shopper has to find out what the competition in the area is charging for services, and decide whether undercutting the competition's rate, staying around the same price, or charging higher than most is the best choice.
As with any business, to be successful, people have to know about your services. The personal shopper has to use business skills to decide whether he should advertise his business, rely on mentions in the media, or hope for good word of mouth recommendations.
Although formal schooling isn't required to be a personal shopper, it can help to take classes in styling. Many art schools offer fashion departments that have styling courses. In these courses, you'll learn all aspects of the styling industry including how to style people on photo shoots and for television and film, and you will also learn how to style different body types. This can be extremely beneficial when working with private clients who will come in all shapes, sizes and heights. With an education in fashion, you'll also have a qualification that might be a step up above your competition.