INTO Fashion Masterclass: Buying

Careers + Advice, FAD Projects, INTO Fashion
Heralding a change from the deluge of amazing #FADStories we have been posting on the blog recently, FAD CEO Maria Alvarez reports back on the latest INTO Fashion masterclass with top buyer Karen Almond.

“We were really honoured to have Karen Almond as our speaker for this month’s INTO Fashion masterclass.  Karen’s career in buying began as soon as she left university in the mid 1980’s and has seen her climb the ranks of large retail groups including Arcadia, Disney and Jacques Vert to name a few.

During the course of the evening she revealed what she loves most about her job in buying is the teamwork, working with creative people, travelling and looking for inspiration across the globe. What she doesn’t enjoy so much is the number crunching, problems with suppliers and challenging meetings. It was a really enjoyable insight into the realities of being a buyer.” 

Here are Karen’s 8 practical tips for progressing in the world of fashion buying.

INTO Fashion Masterclass on Buying
1. Use your existing experience

“Make the most of your part time job on the shop floor to develop customer relationships and understand your consumer.”

2. Persevere

“There are a few levels to becoming a buyer. You will always need to start from the very bottom. These first jobs in buying have different names depending on the company you work for e.g. Clerk, Trainee Buyer, Buyer’s Administrative Assistant (BAA) but are essentially the same. At the beginning you will be doing menial jobs such as managing samples, inputting data into spreadsheets, planning deliveries etc.  It will take you a few years to move up, so don’t give up, persevere.” 

3. Be proactive

“It is essential you have the right attitude. Be very proactive, your motto should be: “Do it without being asked!”

4. Network

“As with any job, networking is a must.  The contacts you make at the beginning of your career stay with you, but you need to nurture them!”

INTO Fashion Masterclass on Buying

5. Be objective

“When you work as a buyer you need to put yourself in the mindset of the customer. You are buying for your customer, so set aside your personal preferences.”

6. Keep your eye on the end game

“It is important you always keep your progression route in mind; ask your manager for feedback, opportunities, make the most of your appraisals.”

7. Be a team player

“You will be part of a team, working with designers and other buyers so the collection placed in store is a harmonized one. You have to all work together to put together different products under the same concept.”

8. Hone your IT skills

“IT is a really Important skill for a buyer.  You need to feel very comfortable working with numbers and have good PC skills, as you will constantly be working with spreadsheets on excel. You need to be super organized and tidy.”

This masterclass is part of a series organised by FAD for the INTO Fashion employment programme. Read more blog posts from INTO Fashion here.
INTO Fashion is made possible thanks to funding from the Trust For London.

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