Do you ever get annoyed when retail stores call their sales associates “stylists”? I certainly do. As a stylist, seeing such disrespect toward my profession irks me. In today’s blog, I want to talk about why working retail is not the same as working as a stylist and why it’s essential to understand the difference.
It bothers me so much when stores call their sales associates “stylists” because it’s simply not the same thing. I’ve noticed a recent trend with retailers trying to make their sales associates more like stylists, but the truth is, they’re not stylists.
I worked in retail for many years after graduating from fashion school because I needed to make money. I worked at Nordstrom and Betsy Johnson but was not great at retail because I’m far too honest with people. When customers would ask me how they looked in an outfit, I’d tell them the truth, even if it meant sending them to a different store. I wasn’t trying to sell them something in which they didn’t look good, but that’s the whole point of working retail. Your job is to make sales and generate revenue for the retailer.
On the other hand, a personal stylist is not focused on making sales. Yes, of course, we want our clients to buy clothes, but we’re not making any extra money off of the clothes. The purpose of a stylist is to create an image for someone, taking the time to get to know the person, their goals, what they want to portray, and how they want to be perceived. This takes a relationship, sitting down with them, sometimes looking through their closet, and understanding their preferences.
Stylists create a wardrobe for their clients by pulling things from various retailers, outfits for them, lookbooks, and a vision for them. You can’t do that all in one store. You need some variety if you’re buying your whole wardrobe in one trip to Nordstrom. There are other stores out there, other fish in the sea. You mix them to make yourself a fish stew.
Let me wake you up if you’re working retail and think you’re a stylist. You’re not. However, retail work is an excellent experience for parlaying into a styling career. Pay attention to how you relate to your customers, spend a little extra time getting to know them better, and put looks together instead of just handing someone a dress. Don’t pressure them to get anything they don’t want.
It’s time to stop thinking that working retail is the same as working as a stylist. Although it may seem like the two are similar, they’re not. If you want to become a stylist, download my free eBook. Working as a stylist can be a fulfilling and profitable career. Please don’t fool yourself; it’s not the same as retail work but much more fun.