Personal shopping: Is your finger on the fashion pulse?

Sonya Leahy interviews a VIP client executive
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The Independent Online

Name: Dean Aslett

Occupation: VIP client executive

Employer: Selfridges & Co, London

Qualifications: BTech National in Fashion

"My career in retail started with a Saturday job at Marks & Spencer in Croydon when I was 15. But it was actually due to my passion for music that I got into fashion as I saw the two as being very interlinked.

After finishing school, I did a BTech National Diploma in fashion, but rather than staying on for a degree, I went to work as an assistant to couturier Anthony Price when I was 18. I was thrown in the deep end, dealing with Anjelica Huston, Jack Nicholson, Johnny Mathis and even royalty. The role was so diverse and I absolutely adored the job. One day I would be working on Oscar award ceremony outfits and the next a photo shoot for a rock album cover. I also took on some public relations work, dealing with press enquiries and helping to promote the label.

Since then, I've worked for two major design houses - Versace and Gucci - where I was in charge of the women's ready-to-wear collections and VIP accounts, dealing with everyone from Elton John to Bon Jovi. I also ran my own boutique before joining Selfridges as their head of personal shopping.

I'm now their VIP client executive, so my focus is more on managing the relationships with our important clients, than day-to-day management of the personal shopping team. Other aspects of my job include liaising with buyers on key looks and trends for the coming season, organising fashion events, and working with stylists and production companies to create looks for television, film and music videos.

When customers come in for an appointment with a personal shopper, we have a consultation to find out what they like and dislike and what has and hasn't worked for them in the past. It could be a celebrity needing an outfit for the red carpet, the mother of a bride or a guy straight out of university who needs a suit for a job interview. The personal shopper will go on to the shop floor, while the client relaxes with a coffee and a magazine, and come back with a selection of outfits for them to try on. It's a free service and the majority of customers leave with a yellow Selfridges bag and a smile!

The retail industry is full of great career opportunities. If you want to be a personal shopper, fashion has to be your passion and you will need to keep your finger firmly on the fashion pulse and be prepared to work in a fast-paced environment. You must also be bubbly, enthusiastic, flexible, self-motivated and have an "anything is possible" approach to your work."