Assistant buyer, own brand, John Lewis
What does your job involve?
I work closely with the buying, design and merchandising teams to develop a creative and commercial product range for John Lewis menswear. I take a keen interest in developing the buying assistants in the team and working with them to ensure the smooth running of the buying process and to maintain schedules, critical paths and key deadlines. Being an own-brand assistant buyer means I’m involved in every step of the development process, working with the design team and the buyer to choose styles, cuts and fabrics right through to how it looks on the shop floor.
What skills do you need?
Good commercial awareness, a creative eye for product, detailed knowledge of key trends for forthcoming seasons, and strong communication and networking skills.
What do you like and dislike about your job?
I love seeing the products launch and selling in-store and online. It’s a real sense of achievement to see a customer wearing the garments you worked on for months. There are very few things I dislike but I suppose it would be nice to be in three places at once sometimes.
How did you get to where you are today?
I always loved trends and fashion. As a student I worked in stores and enjoyed the buzz of retail. When I graduated I set up the first personal shopping department for John Lewis, an opportunity that afforded me the chance to fully understand the company’s customers and their needs. I gained experience with other retailers but eventually returned to John Lewis.
I worked briefly in merchandising, but I’ve since progressed into the role of assistant buyer.
What is your proudest career achievement to date?
I helped to set up the first John Lewis collaboration with London College of Fashion students. Targeting the key areas of buying, mechanising, design and marketing, the project challenged the 160 students taking part to develop a contemporary capsule menswear range for John Lewis. It was fascinating to watch the students develop in confidence and knowledge and I was thrilled to be mentoring the future of the industry.
What is your ambition?
I would like to continue to develop in the career I love. Eventually I’d like to move into a head of buying role, while never straying too far from contact with product.
How do you intend to get there?
I continue to push myself forward and realise the importance of involving myself in new projects. I stay active in pursuing the next challenge and securing the future of a strong business.
What three words sum you up?
Commercial, ambitious, unconventional.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Get as much work experience as you can, it will show you the true side of the industry; have a keen eye on fashion trends and what’s hot on the high street; and most importantly, have an opinion that is solely yours and one that you can back up with commercial knowledge and understanding.
2011 Assistant buyer, own brand, John Lewis
2009 Assistant buyer, brands, John Lewis
2008 Buying assistant, sports apparel, John Lewis
2006 Buying assistant, formalwear, John Lewis
2006 Merchandising assistant, formalwear, John Lewis
2002 Business operations co-ordinator, House of Fraser
1999 Personal shopper, Peter Jones