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Bridie Ballantyne

Assistant store manager, Marie-Chantal

What does your job involve?

I manage the flagship store of luxury kidswear brand Marie-Chantal on Sloane Street in London. I work on the shopfloor and oversee the day-to-day running of the store while supporting my manager. My job is to ensure the store is clean and organised. Every aspect of the shop must be maintained to a high standard, from its appearance to how we serve customers. Other duties include checking new stock for imperfections and merchandising. The Marie-Chantal mantra is ‘beautiful clothes for beautiful children’.

We sell a fairytale wardrobe not just to mums but to children, so it’s essential that I love spending time with children.

What skills do you need?

At the top of the list are having an eye for detail and diplomacy. As the flagship we are the face of the company. Presentation and product knowledge are key. We aim to include the child and make shopping enjoyable for the parent, so creative thinking helps. A client wanted her daughter to try on every outfit in the store, which is a tough task for a child, so I asked if she liked dancing and we played a dancing game as she tried on dresses. Good knowledge of textiles and garment construction is important in selling luxury products. When each new piece arrives we learn its features and benefits. Often you can turn a sale around by detailing the garment’s features and fibre properties. Busy parents appreciate quick styling suggestions. I’ve learnt that if you have a strong fashion background then your styling skills are also strong.

What do you like and dislike about your job?

I have a great manager and a dedicated team and we get a buzz when a style sells out completely because that means it’s a great design. The downside of my job is I rarely get a quiet lunch break. I am always on call.

How did you get to where you are today?

I always wanted to work in fashion. I’m still carving out my working style by watching and learning from people who have sharp skills and a passion for clothing. In my last job at a lingerie indie I learnt by watching the owner, who had a City background, and from the manager, a bespoke lingerie designer. Exposure to their combined business acumen and creative and technical prowess was the perfect training environment. I’ve also learnt to trust my instincts. By nature I am meticulous and diplomatic and by nurture I appreciate the finer side of fashion design.

What is your proudest career achievement to date?

Becoming assistant manager at Marie-Chantal.

What is your ambition?

To be involved in footwear design. I plan to do a foundation course in footwear design and focus on a great brand and approach it for a position in footwear design or buying.

How do you intend to get there?

With focus, training and confidence.

What three words sum you up?

Selective, observant, organised.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

To work in luxury you must have a background in luxury. If you don’t, it’s not going to work. Get experience with the right brands, even if it’s unpaid. It will give you an awareness of quality on a different level. You must also spend time with a brand to fully understand it. Not just the product, but the workings behind the company.  ●

CV

2011 Assistant store manager, Marie-Chantal

2010 Assistant store manager, Truelove Lingerie, London

2009 BA in Fashion Studies, The Arts University College, Bournemouth

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