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Rachel Owen

Junior buyer, casualwear and online, Wallis

What does your job involve?

It’s so hard to sum up the entire job but, in a nutshell, I work closely with a team to translate fashion trends into commercial styles that we think are right for the Wallis customer. Once the right product is there, then it’s all about negotiating great prices with the suppliers and making sure the styles are of the right quality and delivered to stores at the right time to maximise sales.

What skills do you need?

You need the ability to work well under pressure and to tight deadlines, first and foremost. So, good organisation skills are key. But you also need to be a great team player, tenacious, conscientious and creative with a commercial eye.

What do you like and dislike about your job?

It’s great to be involved in such a fast-paced and exciting environment, where you can really get creative. No two days are the same and there’s always a new challenge to tackle head on. I don’t dislike anything, but don’t get me wrong, it’s a challenging and demanding job. However, if I didn’t love getting up for work in the morning then I wouldn’t be doing it.

How did you get to where you are today?

I enrolled on the Wallis graduate scheme after I finished university and I’ve been working for Wallis for the past three and a half years. I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to work on different product areas and various projects, which I believe has helped me to progress to the level I’m at now.

What is your proudest career achievement to date?

Getting my junior buyer promotion, because it feels amazing to own a range within the brand and so satisfying to see your product in stores and selling. There have been loads of high points though. Working with Yasmin Le Bon on the Wallis collaboration was amazing. I’ve also had responsibility for buying product for online. This role involved sourcing branded product from Paris and establishing a new supply base and different product handwriting. It’s great to learn new things about your customer when you experiment with different products.

What is your ambition?

To become a buying director for a high street retailer and to have influence over all product areas. Having a greater influence on the business [as a whole] would be so exciting.

How do you intend to get there?

It will probably take me quite a while, but I will carry on working hard and soaking up as much experience, in as many areas of the business, as possible.

What three words sum you up?

Passionate, conscientious, driven.

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

Although I’m not from a fashion background (my degree was in linguistics), it’s a highly competitive industry and I’d encourage anyone interested in buying to gain as much knowledge and experience as possible through education or work placements, and anything to help you stand out from the crowd. Having said that, if you have the right skill set, are passionate about the job and you’re prepared to work hard, then you will be successful, no matter what your background. 

CV

2011 Junior buyer, casualwear and online, Wallis

2009 Assistant buyer, knitwear and Yasmin Le Bon for Wallis collaboration

2007 Buyer’s admin assistant, casualwear, Wallis

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