Wardrobe Wire had the opportunity to interview a personal shopper at Barney's New York-Dallas. Heather Kilpatrick did an exclusive interview with the former classmate of WW's founder, Paige Rolfe.
1. Before we get started, why don’t you go ahead and tell us a little bit about yourself and what exactly you do as a personal shopper?
I am the Women’s Designer, Co-Op, and Personal Shopping Manager. I over see all aspects of the Women’s clothing business for Barneys New York-Dallas.
2. Personal shopping at Barney’s is clearly for a certain type of clientele, one with higher than average amounts of disposable income. With that in mind, was your business really affected by the recession?
The recession forced business people to be more creative, proactive, and really pay attention to what their clients were looking for while continuing to give the best service possible. Clients are not always brand loyal, but they are people loyal and that was a plus when the economy took a turn last year. Our clients still had money to spend and because of the relationships built here they remained loyal to my staff and Barneys New York.
3. All those designer clothes must be a dream to work with on a daily basis! Which designers are your personal favorites and which do you find are your “go-to designers” for your clients?
Yes, working with some of the most respectable designers in the world is an absolute dream. Having met certain designers, worked with them over the years, and seeing their collections season after season gives me a different take on Designer clothing. I view the garments in my designer department as a personal investment piece that are added to ones wardrobe. Laura and Kate Mulleavy are the creators of Rodarte, my favorite designers at the moment. Each garment they design is like a piece of artwork. That is how we explain it to clients who are willing to spend on such luxury. They have a very shy demeanor in person; however, their work is remarkable and quite simply… breathtaking. Rodarte won the 2009 Woman’s Wear Designer of the year award and the 2008 Swarovski Award for Woman’s Wear among several other awards since 2005 when they started the line. Reese Witherspoon, Natalie Portman, and even our first lady, Michelle Obama, have recently been seen in Rodarte. Barneys New York- Dallas was ecstatic to have the girls for a trunk show and as guests for “Fashion at the Park”. Dallas clients fell in LOVE with their dresses. In the Gallery is a picture of me, Kate and Laura Mulleavy and a sneak peak at the Barneys New York-Dallas “Fashion at the Park” Rodarte Fashion show.
Currently the most asked for designer is the Row, created by Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen. A luxury casual line of clothing inspired by London’s Savile Row everyone can have a piece of this luxury in their closet.
4. People come in all different shapes and sizes, and they all have a personal vision of themselves. How do you know what will look good on who?
Every season a designer has a new vision and or inspiration that’s displayed on the runway we keep in mind our clients and what would look great on their body types that is in turn translated by our buying department on our selling floor. Every Monday, here in Dallas, is like Christmas… it’s our shipment day! As soon as the garments are unpacked they are photographed and sent to our clients via email. We try most items on “dress up”, if you will, to determine fit. We have to convert French, British, and Italian sizing over to US sizing for our clients. As you can imagine, it helps to get the garments ON the body as sometimes garment pieces have little “hanger appeal”.
5. Life is all about lessons, and with experience, there are a LOT of lessons to be learned. What are some major lessons you have learned about yourself, your clients, and/or the business in general that you can pass on?
Know your place with clients- especially with celebrities. Don’t act like you are their friend. You’re NOT.
Client’s don’t want or care about your personal problems when they come shop they want it to be fun and a positive experience and all about them.
Have honesty and integrity about what you’re selling. Treat every client as if they’re your most important client.
Remain open to change
6. What’s your favorite thing about fashion? What makes you love it so much?
I love fashion because it’s always changing.
7. Are there any up and coming designers that you are dying to inform Wardrobe Wire and our readers about?
Most recently Lauren is know for creating the Feed bag program available in Whole Foods. They use the proceeds to feed the UN World Program children.
Read more: http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/lauren-bush-feed100-50050108#ixzz0qH9pjiVz
Lauren has created a line of dresses called Lauren Pierce Atelier. In March this year we hosted Lauren’s very first trunk show, in Dallas, where she sold made- to- order dresses in fabrics that were hand dyed by women from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Clients were able to choose their own fabric, size, and silhouette. Upon completion, the dress tag noted the clients name along with the name of the woman who dyed the fabric. I can’t wait to see what other clothing projects Lauren takes on in the near future!
8. If you had to choose ONE designer’s clothing line to live in for the rest of your life, who would it be and why?
Diane VonFurstenberg! I love her season after season! I would say that I most resemble HER collections on a daily basis. She is an amazing woman. She was just in Dallas for a fundraiser. She is very passionate about community work and I deeply respect that in any person. Fun fact, she was the first to create the black wrap dress and is a Capricorn (I am a Capricorn too). Diane never forgets the people supporting her brand. This past Christmas she sent me a calendar, signed, to use as a planner for my business. I Love a strong business woman!
The following are some questions that were submitted by our readers:
1. I imagine it is a lot of hard work, but being a Barney's personal shopping manager sounds like such a FUN job!! I would LOVE to know HOW SHE got to where she is now.
I was actually a pre-law graduate! Isn’t it funny how life works out? Ever since high school I was interested in fashion. I always dressed to my own tune! I worked during my school years in sales, I opened my own retail store in order to really learn the ropes, moved to Dallas, and was recruited to work for Barneys New York. I have been here ever since!
2. What was her favorite or most memorable experience while helping a client?
The last fashion show I did is the most current and memorable experience. It was with a Children’s Cancer group here in Dallas. The project sold tickets for a luncheon and my duty was, simply, to provide the fashion show! The proceeds went to support the families of children with cancer. The first part of the show was children who are battling cancer and/ or other crippling diseases. Watching those children walk down the runway in crutches, wheel chairs, or needing adults assisting them, and seeing the smile on their faces was the most humbling experience. The goal was to make each child feel the applause of the crowd, the excitement, and let them know they are special no matter what they are going through. Seeing their parents wait for them at the end of the runway… to carry them off the stage…. and how proud they were of their child…. still gives me shivers to think about. At times, luxury and retail in general can be a very thankless and shallow job. It’s projects like this, and others, that make me sure to stay involved with and make it worth staying in fashion.
3. What does she do to prepare for her job on a day-to-day basis?
My favorite phrase when things get a little hectic with client demands…“we sell dresses, we are not curing Cancer” there is a solution to everything! I take things as they come and keep an open mind because every day is different.
4. Is her job really as fun as it seems?
Most of the time!!!!
5. Does a college degree really make a difference when it comes to finding a good job? Or does it just matter who you know in the business?
I think it’s a little bit of both. Who you know may get you an interview but it’s ultimately someone’s accomplishments and/ or education that gets them the job. I interview people all the time and I am most impressed with those who have worked during college and have a taste of what the real world is like. Networking is always important in any kind of sales, obviously.
Thank You, Jessica! Wardrobe Wire wishes you the best of luck in all you do!