Professional men and women with high incomes and busy schedules are the primary employers of personal shoppers. Shoppers may also work with people with new jobs requiring dress clothes, but also with people who need to perk up an old wardrobe. Personal shoppers may work for executives in corporations who need to buy gifts for large staffs of employees. Some of their clients may be elderly or have disabilities and have problems getting out to do their shopping. Department stores and specialty boutiques also hire personal shoppers to help customers and provide personalized service beyond that offered by the store's regular retail sales staff.
Start-up costs for personal shoppers can be very low; you may only have to invest in a computer, Web site, business cards, and a reliable form of transportation. But it could take you a very long time to develop a regular clientele. Likely, you will rely on referrals from current clients to get new clients.
You'll want to develop your business part time while still working full time at another, more reliable job. Some of your first clients may come from your workplace. Offer free introductory services to a few people and encourage them to spread the word and hand out your business card. You'll also need to become very familiar with the local retail establishments and the discount stores with low-cost, high-quality merchandise.
It takes years of dedication, quality work, and referrals to create a successful business. Personal shoppers should expect lean early years as they work to build their business and expand their clientele. After a few years of working part time and providing superior service, a personal shopper may develop his or her business into a full-time endeavor. Eventually, he or she may be able to hire an assistant to help with the administrative work, such as client billing and scheduling.
Tips for Entry
Read one of the many books available about a career as a personal shopper or starting your own personal shopping business.
Stay current on fashions and trends, particularly for the demographic that you serve. What is appropriate and stylish for a 50-year-old woman is quite different than what is popular for a 25-year-old woman.
Learn to create a business plan if you choose to go solo, versus working for a department store.
Join The Association of Image Consultants International (AICI) and find a local chapter near you. Membership will also entitle you to the monthly AICI Global magazine, which will keep you up to date with industry issues.