For self-proclaimed shopaholics and lovers of fashion, a career that revolves around shopping might seem like a pipe dream. And with spam sent via email and text recruiting individuals to be “secret shoppers,” navigating through potential career opportunities is difficult, and in most cases, too good to be true. Fortunately for Jessica Luffman, her dream is now her reality, but not without years of hard work and determination.
Today, Luffman is working as a personal shopper at one of the most renowned retailers in the world, Topshop Hudson’s Bay. In five years, she’s had the opportunity to style some of the city’s biggest personalities – from etalk host Liz Trinnear to musicians like The Darcys – and has been featured in national publications like The Kit for having, you guessed it, one of the most enviable jobs in the fashion industry. But maybe what’s most rewarding about her position of all is dressing real women; empowering them with confidence through clothing and getting paid to do it.
We had the opportunity to chat with Luffman about how she scored her dream position, what a day in her life is like, and her advice for someone looking to get into her line of work.
When did you know that you wanted to work in fashion?
Fashion always came natural to me, even as a child. I still remember being 4 years old and my mom laying out my clothes for the day – but I would completely rearrange them to what I liked. And I can’t forget going to town with Barbie’s mix & match outfits.
Before scoring your dream job, did you ever think that it would become a reality?
I’ve always known that personal shopping isn’t an easy job to score, but I’ve felt passionate towards styling. After graduating college for fashion business, I became a visual merchandiser for a few different companies. I knew that if I worked hard and got a lot of experience I would apply to be a stylist or personal shopper. I was very determined and I think that’s important – this industry is tough but you can’t lose sight of what you really want.
How did you get a job as a personal shopper at Topshop?
I started off as a sales associate at Topshop and a month later became the personal shopping assistant. After a year of learning and developing, I became the personal shopper! September marks my five-year anniversary.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day starts with me checking my emails and calendar. I like to be organized and know what to expect for the day. I have my assistant help me while I pull outfits for the appointments and start setting up the suites. There are two suites in Topshop Personal Shopping that have grids in them; this allows me to hang outfits from head to toe for my clients. I also work with a lot of stylists through PS. It’s exciting to meet new creatives and build relationships with them! When I don’t have appointments set up, I will walk the shop floor and help customers. I bring them into PS and let them know about the service. Most people don’t know that it’s complementary! When we get new shipments in, I will take photos of the items I know my clients would love. I also provide content to Topshop Canada’s Instagram page with fun photos of new arrivals we have in store.
What would you say is the most common problem clients face when looking for an outfit?
Finding a complementary fit for their body shape, and what colour or prints go together. A lot of people are scared to wear colour because they’re so used to wearing black. They also have a difficult time trying to pair colourful items together.
As a personal shopper, you work with clients who have a wide range of style – how do you ensure each customer leaves happy?
I never dress my clients to my style. I always ask them what they are looking for and if they have any trends or celebrity icons that they like. This helps me figure out what outfits to pull for them. If they don’t know what they want then I will pull a variety of different styles and let them try it all on. I always say never judge the clothes by the hanger, because it can look completely different when it’s on your body. I also make sure that they will wear the item more than three times because I don’t want it to just sit in their closet. I find that if the outfit or item looks great, they will get compliments and feel great about the purchase.
Spill the beans. What have been some of the highlights of your career, so far?
Film festival season is always exciting, with lots of actors coming into town for their premieres at TIFF. WayHome was an awesome experience; Topshop is a sponsor and I ran the backstage artist lounge. Interacting with some of my favourite artists was definitely a highlight. Liz Trinnear is one of our ambassadors so she comes in monthly to select outfits for her etalk segments – I always look forward to her appointments because she’s got a fun sense of style!
If you could only give one piece of shopping advice to our readers, what would it be?
Talk to the staff at your favourite stores! Find out what days of the week they get their new shipments in, and go shopping early in the morning two days after that! All of the new product will be on the floor and you can get one-on-one service from associates during the slower morning hours.
What advice do you have for someone looking to get into your field?
- The most important tip for becoming a Topshop Personal Shopper is to know how to dress all different body shapes.
- Listen to your clients and understand what they are looking for. Never dress a client solely based on your own personal style. It may not fit properly or the colours might wash them out – plus you want them to leave happy!
- Always be honest with them, don’t ever lie if something does not look great. There is always something else that will be flattering. It is not about a sale but building a trusting relationship.
- Your everyday style should be inspiring to others!
- Be on top of all the trends and celebrity styles. Many clients will refer to these when booking appointments.
Are there any other occupations you’d like to see profiled? Let us know in the comment section or tweet us at @ViewtheVibe.