The role of a buyer is really fun. My buyer is probably what most people think of when they think of fashion. She flies out to New York, Los Angeles, Paris, London, and Florence, to look at the upcoming season’s assortments from different designers. She takes pictures, chooses her favorite items, and then brings them back to me. I’m in charge of half of the brand in the buying office and I manage helping pick the assortment, put in the orders, and manage pricing. Essentially, this is a product’s life cycle. After a year in this role, many of my fears from the beginning have diminished because I feel like the things I am learning within retail are so much more expansive than just fashion. It’s a great balance of being analytical and creative at the same time, which I really enjoy.
Have I made mistakes? Absolutely. I have made a lot of mistakes. In my job, I think the one thing I really had to learn is understanding the hierarchy of a room. You have to respect the fact that if you’re a new hire, you know the least about the company and you have the least experience, regardless. I think just really understanding the different levels of knowledge in a room and knowing there are people in the room who have a very deep understanding of the company is crucial.
The specific mistake I made in regards to pricing is what I like to call the famous “Gucci Fiasco of 2017”. I basically messed up on pricing and it was tragic; I thought I was going to die, or better yet, get fired. This all went down on my 23rd birthday. My role is sort of unique in that I joined the office and then my counterpart went on maternity leave one month into my job. She was the person I was supposed to learn from, so you can probably do the math on this one. I had to teach myself everything because of this, and I was full-force drowning in those first few months. I made a pricing error with Gucci. I wasn’t familiar with our systems yet, and so I made an error keying in a sale. Thank goodness I was able to resolve it before the sale went live, but I learned that my responsibility is real and my actions have real-time impact, good or bad. When I’m training new Assistant Buyers, I always tell them about this fiasco because, yes, you’re going to make mistakes. You just learn and resolve them quickly. I had to remember that this was not a life or death situation, and I got over it.
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