White Stuff’s womenswear wovens buyer on why she needs to be adaptable and good under pressure.
I get woken up every morning at 7am by the sound of harps playing from my alarm, and by the sound of angry dogs barking from my boyfriend’s alarm, which is a bit frightening. I don’t feel human until I’ve had some caffeine, and a cup of tea seems to do the trick.
I’ll always wear White Stuff to work, but it’s a relaxed culture here and the important thing is to feel comfortable. I don’t dawdle and I’m normally out of the house by 7.30am to catch the Tube at Barons Court.
It takes 50 minutes to get to the offices in Oval and I use the journey to draft responses to emails that I can send once I get there. In the summer, I run to work twice a week to stay healthy, and I normally eat breakfast at work.
First thing I catch up with my team – I have an assistant buyer and a buyer’s admin assistant that report in. Mondays are all about analysing last week’s sales, and I have a meeting with my merchandiser and the wovens department to look at new reactions, rates of sales and branch covers. We also assess whether we want to trade into something that’s performing well, or out of something that’s underperforming.
I don’t take a full lunch break as such, but try to pop out for 15 minutes to clear my head.
I regularly check out what the competition is doing online, and to make sure our prices are in tune with the high street.
We tend to work about 10 months ahead of ranges going into stores, because we are a multichannel business and have wholesale customers to sell to. After a lot of planning with merchandising, we agree options by category and by month, so my designer can go away and work out what we want to develop for the range – a process we call ‘range-popping’. We will also leave options open to trade into, to capitalise on best-sellers.
A big part of my role is also dealing with our suppliers. We mainly source our cottons from India – natural fibres are important to White Stuff. However, volatile raw material prices have been a problem recently. The situation seems to be improving now though, and that should help margins.
Buying is great, but it’s hard work. You have to be incredibly well-organised, motivated, driven and creative. If you could have only one skill as a buyer it would be to have the right eye for your brand – knowing what your customer wants. You have to be adaptable and good under pressure, because a delivery could slip behind or a supplier’s factory could burn down.
I don’t normally leave the office until between 6pm and 8.30pm, because I like to make sure everything urgent is done. In the evenings I see friends for dinner, or chill in front of the TV with my boyfriend. He’s an online insurance broker, so our work lives are very different. Whatever he says is very dull for me, and he thinks I just shop for a living. So we always joke now that neither of us really knows what the other one does.
2010 Buyer – womenswear wovens, White Stuff
2008 Junior buyer – womenswear wovens, White Stuff
2008 Junior buyer, Monsoon
2007 Senior assistant buyer, Monsoon
2006 Assistant buyer, Monsoon
2005 Senior buyer’s admin assistant, Monsoon
2004 Buyer’s admin assistant, Monsoon