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Last Updated on 18 August 2021 by Gertrude

When I hear “personal shopper” my mind jumps on people that love hanging around the mall and expensive boutiques collecting the best luxury pieces of clothes and accessories for affluent people.

Luxury personal shoppers earn upwards of 10million/year depending on their experience of sourcing exclusive pieces for customers.

Experience luxury shoppers know what the customers want because they work with customers on a one to one basis and get to know the collector on a personal level. In Kenya, there is a rise in the number of imported designer clothes because Kenyans are hungry and rich to afford luxury items from brands like Louis Vuitton, Christian, Sephora, Moet and Hennesy.

If you are a new rich, you’d get overwhelmed by some luxury brands like Birkin, if you are looking for a 10 or 50 million shilling bag.

You’d want the services of an experienced luxury personal shopper to help you get the Birkin not only faster but according to your specifications or taste.

Luxury  Personal Shoppers advertise their services on YouTube or Instagram and some of my favourite YouTubers include Cassie Thorpe and Anastasia Finds.

Closer home, in Nigeria, there is @MDBLUXURY on Instagram that sources luxury bags for Nigerian celebrities.

Personal shoppers save you the time in figuring out the cost of shipping or other related taxes because they source, charge you and have your goods delivered to your doorstep.

Personal shopping isn’t limited to the ‘good stuff’ or exclusive products. Are you planning on running an eCommerce store and are wondering how to get genuine products from China?

Or have you been thinking of working with a Chinese manufacturer but don’t know how to get started?

Use the services of a personal shopper knowledgeable in Chinese and the Chinese culture of doing business with foreigners. As Kenyans make billions and deposit billions, so will the much-needed services of a personal shopper keep increasing. 

Who is a Luxury Personal Shopper?

A luxury personal shopper is someone who makes money by purchasing another person’s individual’s goods, either by accompanying them to shop or shopping on their behalf.

A personal shopper deals with many items ranging from groceries to furniture equipment, sourcing for manufacturers, limited edition products, participating in art or limited art auctions, car deals. The work of a personal shopper isn’t limited to Birkin bags though the luxury market made popular of personal shoppers. 

What Does a Luxury Personal Shopper Do?

Luxury personal shoppers may seem to live the dream; shopping, standing in line waiting for that exclusive Louis Vuitton party at the Louis Vuitton headquarters but their roles and responsibility isn’t limited to shopping only. The other roles of a luxury personal shopper include the following: 

  1. Take customer orders. Customers want to know how to contact or reach to you privately. 

So, have live chats on Zoom, Skype or Facetime, or via emails,  telephone calls or live chats. You can use Instagram, WeChat, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter to take your customers orders or requests. 

  1. Give product advice and guidance based on trends.

 As a luxury personal shopper, you have to have good knowledge of the fashion industry so that you can provide detailed information about the items your client wants to purchase.

  1. Make financial requests and adjustments. You have to charge your client before and after clients.

 How do you charge them; how do you price your services as a luxury personal shopper? You will have to figure out not only how to source or get deals for your clients but how to pay yourself.  

  1. Delivery. How do you ensure your client’s products arrive in the mint condition you acquired them? 

Because your client about the scratch on the bag, exchange or realisation of fake goods, ensure the delivery service you use is reliable, transparent because your name is on the line and the life of your business. 

  1. Communication. Before getting a client’s approval to source products for them, you will have a lot of back and forth chats, disagreements about pricing, delivery methods.

 How do you deal with difficult clients?

Clients buying luxury goods care for details.

Are you someone that needs a lot of hand-holding or are you someone that delivers above and beyond your client’s expectations?

Listen to what your clients say and what they don’t say. Remember your client’s time is valuable, take notes, write them down and keep calm when your client talks.

No matter how much your client blabbers or wanders away from the subject don’t interrupt them. Listen more than you talk; pay attention. 

  1. Offer clients with exchanges and replacements. As a personal shopper, you should come up with a plan to compensate your clients if they are dissatisfied with the items you bought, for example, contacting the store for an exchange or replacement. 

And that’s why understanding and communicating with your clients is important and at the heart of luxury personal shopping. 

  1. Purchase products. Shopping is at the centre of a luxury personal shopper. You MUST love shopping and the thrill of meeting with sales assistants and executives, express your needs as a shopper in order to get what you want. 
  1. Grow clientele. Luxury personal shopping is a business. Your business cannot function without clients. 

Build trust and good relationships with your clients. Listen to what your clients say and what they don’t. The luxury market is a small circle of fanatics leaving the rest to wonder. But the clients value personal shoppers that meet their expectations or go above and beyond their expectations and these clients help grow your business through the word of mouth marketing. Don’t forget to have a presence on social media sites like Instagram or YouTube where the lux life community grows. Do the best job for one client and win ten more clients.  

How Do I Become a Luxury Personal Shopper

Becoming a personal shopper is easy if you are passionate about all things fashion and design. But that doesn’t mean that you cannot grow into this trade. All it takes is to cultivate interest.

You can become a luxury personal shopper by starting your own freelance site or joining a personal stylist. 

Here is what you have to do first.

  1. Learn about the industry. Here is the thing, there are world class luxury shoppers who have been in this trade for years and have worked for the most influential people in the world. They attribute their success to thorough knowledge of the industry they work in. If you want to become a luxury personal shopper, do research. Analyse market trends. Check on styling designs, new fashionable trends and pricing on the luxury items. Read fashion magazines. Explore books. Be geared up for the job.
  1. Build your skills. The next thing to do to become a luxury personal shopper is to identify the skills needed and work on them. Is it photography? Tailoring? Communication skills? Your skills set you apart from every other personal shopper. They are your brand. Hone your skills and be ready to make money.
  1. Practice, practice, practice. Start running errands for your family and friends and get used to the idea of being constantly on your feet and on calls making and getting orders. This is a good way to prepare to become a personal shopper. It is very effective.

How Do I Start a Luxury Personal Shopper Business in Kenya?

Starting a luxury personal shopping business isn’t about shopping only. Luxury shopping is a business that is approached with a business mindset. And the following are ways to get started as a luxury personal shopper and they include: 

Check your mindset. No one talks about the mindset when it comes to any business. It’s from the mindset that we either make it or give up. So, if you are telling yourself you cannot make it shopping for others, well, you will wait all your life or look for something new. What are you telling yourself a personal shopper? 

A luxury personal shopper knows where to shop for good deals ( rich people love deals) and must be a good traveller. Luxury personal shoppers get acquainted with destinations or hidden destinations where they find ‘’undiscovered’’ goods for the wealthy. For example, from Anastasia Finds YouTube channel I learnt that Dubai and the Middle East in general have unique products. 

Learn. You cannot cater for the vast appetite of the wealthy if you don’t have general knowledge about a variety of topics from art, wines, jewellery, bags. You have to keep learning and understanding your client’s taste. The better your knowledge, the more money you earn because clients won’t entrust you with handbags only but rare art pieces or exclusive deals. Clients want to spend money on luxury shoppers that know the market, won’t they? 

Be trustworthy. The luxury industry is shrewd with secrecy and no one says in the circle, ‘’everyone knows everyone’’. They want to trust only a small group of friends. For you to get included in such secrecy, be a trustworthy shopper. Don’t look at the money and let yourself get swayed or don’t try to shortchange your clients with counterfeit or worst, don’t try to overbid for goods in order to drive your clients poor. 

Write your business plan. A business plan will give you a clear path of why, how and when you want to start and achieve your goals in this new venture.

Must be a good negotiator. Your clients may be wealthy but they still love a good deal. Clients want value for money and wealthy clients love wise spending even though they have an unlimited budget. Consider the value of products and the quality before purchasing. 

Always know your client’s taste. Because you are buying one of a kind products for clients, take your time to know what your clients want. For example, some clients may believe you know it because you are a luxury personal shopper, show your clients options. Some clients may not know anything, show them your finds and more of something they didn’t expect. 

Connect with others. Connecting with others doesn’t mean networking with people only in your industry but those outside your industry too. The more people you know, the more they recommend your services to others that might be interested in the services of a luxury personal shopper. Plus, others get to learn from you and you get to learn from others. 

Is flexible. You cannot get rigid as a luxury personal shopper and end up forcing your taste on your client or restricting them to your finds. You have to be adaptable to the taste and change of your client’s needs. A client may have spotted a jewellery piece with a rare green stone and you don’t like the green you believe blue is the best. Listen to your client’s story. Most people buying luxury, buy it to tell a story about their life. 

Have a clear contract. Luxury personal shopping doesn’t mean you don’t have clear contracts to protect yourself. Recently, Jimmy Wanjigi got shamed because of a lack of payment of a $10k/1Million plus jacket. You’d think the person/s in charge would call instead of announcing their client’s debts for the whole nation. You want to have a contract stating you won’t disclose your client’s personal information if you got invited to their home. You won’t say the arguments you hear or the relationships or how to deal with arrears or debts. Also, state if you allow credit cards or what type of payment you allow. Let your contract spell out your expectations and your client’s in a clear way without ambiguity. Better yet, have a lawyer help you get the draft. 

Go the extra mile. You cannot become a luxury personal shopper if you don’t love your client’s demands and going the extra mile for them.

Imagine shopping for someone like Paris Hilton and not doing ‘’anything you can’’ for her to acquire what she wants.

Do you think she’ll recommend your services to her cycle of high-profile friends and she has a lot? You have to make your client happy by getting them what they want.

A happy client means more clients coming and more money coming your way. 

Build your portfolio. You will need to show your clients that you are ethical and that you have the skills to work effectively. If you have prior experience, you will need to show them who you worked for and what the results were.

Set up your website.  Setting up a website for your luxury personal shopping business means clients get to find you online first. After all, luxury fashion houses are going online more than ever and on some websites, clients may need the assistance of a personal shopper.

Because one rare crocodile bag may be on Louis Vuitton the Middle East but not Louis Vuitton South Africa/Africa. If a client finds you online, because their shopping starts from online marketplaces, they’ll trust you and your services.

If you like, add referrals if clients allow or have a social media presence or better yet, use your website to advise clients on how to get themselves, personal shoppers.

A website is an extra source of income if you use the blog section for creating content and marketing. Not every client wants to travel abroad to search for pieces, so they search online but it gets overwhelming what to trust and your website provides clients with a way forward. 

What Tools Do I Need Before Getting Started as a Luxury Personal Shopper?

A Business Plan 

Get a licence 

Researcher or a passion for finds

Know the trends, what’s new and what’s gone out of style. Knowing the trends helps you recommend products/pieces to your clients they never thought about. 

An eye for bargaining 

Mobile phone, a digital camera for taking pictures and videos for your clients. 

A passport 

A laptop and internet connection for keeping in touch with clients and updating your website 

A reliable insured car for travelling around to events like fashion week or exhibition

Network 

What Skills Do You Need to Become a Luxury Personal Shopper?

If you are thinking about what you need to be fit as a luxury personal shopper, here are some skills that will help you in this trade.

  • Communication skills. Part of being a luxury personal shopper means that you will be making sales. You should know how to sell an item to your client. This dictates that you have excellent communication skills. You will be giving information to the client about the customer and the brands.  
  • Organisation skills. Handling multiple clients can be confusing and challenging. If you are working for more than one person, know how to organise your schedule, orders and finances so that each client will get the right item, at the right time at a fair charge.
  • Computer skills. You have to be computer literate. Since you will be going online and using websites to showcase items to clients, you need to have basic computer knowledge. You will use apps like Stylebook Closet and Outfit Planner to help you. 
  • Time management skills. I work best with a deadline. Took a while to master this as a blogger. As a luxury personal shopper this means getting the purchases ready and reaching to appointments on time. Hitting deadlines means you are a self-sufficient, driven person. Time management as a luxury personal shopper also means understanding what a piece does and explaining the function to the client in as little time as possible. 
  • Excellent customer service. Customers are the King no what you hear. If you don’t treat your customers with an empathetic ear by going to announce how rich people are stuck up or woooow, she cried over a bag, over a bag type story, luxury personal shopping isn’t for you, find another profession. Care about your clients and make sure they are satisfied with your services.

Other skills of luxury personal shoppers include: 

  • Understanding the fashion industry or the trends in the fashion industry. 
  • Attention to details 
  • Tact
  • Confidence 
  • Enthusiasm 
  • Creative and imaginative 
  • People skills 

Do I Have to Go to School to Become a Luxury Personal Shopper?

Although most luxury shoppers boast of a wealth of knowledge in their trade, there are no formal educational requirements to get a job as a luxury personal shopper. 

If you have good sales and marketing skills, retail experience and a thorough understanding of the latest trends, styles and products, that is enough to get you by.

How Do Personal Shoppers Make Money?

Luxury personal shoppers make money by either charging by a percentage (usually 10%) of what the merchandise costs or by charging by the hour.

I would recommend that you charge by the hour because the money you will make will cater for all your needs included in your trip.

Take this instance where you are required to shop for luxury pieces at Two Rivers Mall all the way from your house in Embakasi. When you include the hours you spend getting ready, traffic delay and the actual shopping, the wise thing to do will be to ask for payment based on the amount of time the client spends on you. 

You can also make money from commissions, if you make a sale, for example as a sales assistant for a boutique or store.

Some clients will also give you an additional tip for a good job done. You now have three ways to source money from one job.

How Should I Price My Services as a Luxury Personal Shopper?

The normal per hour base rate is Ksh. 15,000. 

Although, this can vary from one client to the other, depending on the amount of work, type of work and the hours spent.

Do not be too rigid with your charge rates, because this will drive your clients away. If you have to charge high rates, then have a good portfolio to back this decision. 

How Much do Luxury Personal Shoppers Make?

As a luxury personal shopper in Kenya, you can make up to 10 million shillings a year or more depending on your skills, how many clients you have and if you market yourself on social media and have a website/blog. How much you make depends on your years of experience (always comes back to experience and your keen eye for what clients want). So, you can make even a billion shillings or more. 

How Many Hours Does a Luxury Personal Shopper Work?

Since you will only be working on an appointment basis, you will find yourself working irregular schedules that might want you to work nights or weekends. 

When it gets busy during the holidays, you get to work crazy long hours because shopping gets busier because of the discounts and flash sales.

If you don’t mind these inconsistent work schedules, then you will do great as a luxury shopper. 

Who Uses the Services of a Luxury Personal Shopper?

High-end society will need a personal shopper who can get the best deals on elusive luxury items like designer bags and precious jewellery art pieces or classic cars or one of a kind car purchases.  

Some of the common people who use luxury personal shoppers will include.

  • Celebrities
  • Politicians
  • Corporate leaders
  • Boutiques
  • Department stores
  • Wealthy private citizens 
  • New money clients that want to acquire the finest things in life 
  • Influencers trying out your services as glamourised 
  • College students that don’t have time to shop and are busy; think Masters and PhD holders 

These people want personal shoppers to make purchases for them in order to avoid getting ripped off or drawing too much attention to themselves in public.

Where Do I Get Clients?

Start with your existing circle and leverage your network of friends. Oftentimes, your first customer is usually someone who is close to you. A friend or family. 

You can also go online and create a website so that you can get in touch with clients online. Most businesses operate online in this day and age. If you are thinking of only doing this offline, then that is a bit too shallow.

Use social media to your advantage. Go on Facebook or Instagram. Create a page and advertise your services. There are many potential clients who will get in touch with you in no time.

Use freelancing sites. There are people who are looking to hire personal shoppers to get luxury items for them.

How Do I Promote My Services as a Luxury Personal Shopper?

Advertising your services is very important if you want to reach new clients and grow your business. People need to know that you exist and that your services are valuable and what they need. You need more clients to make more money. 

Here are ways to promote yourself and to let people know about you.

  1. Create a website and create a blog in your website’s blog section to help drive traffic to your luxury personal service. The first thing you will want to do is to build a website so that your clients can find you. On your website, provide your information, talk about the services you offer and allow clients to place their requests for your services, either through email or telephone calls. The common misconception of having a website is luxury buyers don’t shop online. They do because they want to find what’s there. Plus, a lot of new money clients would want to check a website before purchasing or would want to use the services of a trusted person to enable a purchase faster. A website is a marketing tool don’t create it and leave it there with pretty pictures with no details. Ask yourself, what are clients asking on luxury videos, I follow almost all luxury YouTube channels and see lots of concerns for buyers. Stalk these channels, websites, social medias to see what clients cry about then in your website’s blog section begin writing. If you cannot write, hire a writer. 
  1. Use business cards. Business cards are a good way to reach new clients. In your business card, include your contact info including your social media and website addresses. Clients get to confirm your services or what you do before contacting you for further information. 
  1. Social media. Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and YouTube remain the best for promoting your services as a luxury personal shopper. Why? Because billions of people throng these websites looking for friends or information on a particular topic. Use photos and videos to promote yourself to a market that understands little of what a luxury personal does. For example, I went on YouTube in order to understand how to get a Louis Vuitton Crocodile bag and found Anastasia Finds, Cassie Thorpe among other YouTubers luxury personal shoppers. The best thing, the idea for this blog came up.  
  1. Have a referral program. When your clients are happy with the services you offer, they will refer new clients to you, what’s the offer that will attract them to your services? Do you offer discounts or access to exclusive fashion house deals? Whatever referral program you use, ensure to think of how to make profits for your business. Some luxury personal shoppers choose to add extras in their client’s bags. For example by adding a coin purse or wallet for free. 
  2. Convince others of your value as a luxury personal shopper. People said the services of a travel agent may die but travel agents keep going strong despite Google displaying info for free. What value are you bringing to the table for customers to choose you? People want to understand why they must be for you before doing business with you. 
  3. Make a list of benefits of your services. Ask yourself why do customers choose you over another luxury personal shopper? What are the features of your services and how do they differ from the rest? What are your specifics you offer? Do you know them? What will the client feel before and after reaching out to you? What additional perks are there for shopping with you? If people don’t identify what you are for and you also don’t, you are not going to make money or get a client. 
  4. Tap into the emotions of you clients. Remember luxury is buying not only things but memories. If you cannot get into your clients/what appeals to them you cannot convince them to make a purchase. Some clients buy for memories of their loved ones others buy as a collection while others for investments. What does your client want? If you meet with your client, what did you notice about how they talked about the Remmebrandt painting? Your client is an emotional buyer, reach to that and you have a buyer using your services as a luxury shopper for life. 

Pros of Luxury Personal Shopping

These are some of the benefits you will gain when you take up luxury shopping as a way to make a living.

  • Low startup costs. It costs nothing to start your luxury personal shopping business because it’s a services skill. You love shopping, love to learn, want to buy or gets thrills from purchasing unique items, understand your clients and you are in business. You can decide to begin by snapping finds at the mall and updating clients on where to find unique pieces. 
  • No inventory involved. You do not have to keep the luxury items that your client needs. You make a purchase and deliver the items to them after completing transactions.  
  • Build rewarding relationships with clients. To understand the needs of your client, you will have to develop trust. When a client knows that they can trust you, they will become loyal and you will not lose them.
  • You get paid to shop. This is exciting for anyone that loves discovering/finds.

Cons of Luxury Personal Shopping

Some disadvantages of luxury shopping are

  • Difficulty to please clients. Someone said to me, ‘’You look simple yet hard to please’’. Luxury purchasers feel the same, you have to ‘’catch up’’ with their high demands. They want what they want and are willing to pay for what they want, no compromise, no laughing. Your client isn’t difficult but wants you to understand them, you live once and we are meant to get what we set our eyes on. That’s not rude or picky. Knowing your client helps you go above and beyond their desire to provide the best service there is for them and to them. 
  • Inconsistent work schedule. Working in the nights and during the holidays doesn’t sound fun at all. It can create an unhealthy work/life balance. Get prepared to communicate with clients at odd hours because they had a busy day at the office. This is where you have to adjust, adapt or get thrown out. Your client’s time isn’t yours what do you do? 

 Difficult to build a client base. You will have to deliver consistent and excellent results for your existing clients to trust your services and recommend more people to you. Easy peasy once you get the first client, do all you can to let them enjoy your services. And don’t forget to remain a day one luxury business for life. 

  • It is not recession proof. Everyone says the luxury industry isn’t recession proof but during the pandemic in 2020 and even now in 2021, Bernard Arnault is the richest man in the world. We cannot deny recession affects everyone but not everyone feels the hit.  

Tips to Becoming An Effective Luxury Personal Shopper 

If you want to make more money as a luxury personal shopper, you have to find ways that will increase your efficiency, help reach more clients and save on costs. 

Here are a few tips to get you started.

  1. Do more than shop. Instead of just shopping, why don’t you find other services to offer your clients? You can start by organising their wardrobe if you are shopping for luxury clothing items. Plan out their outfits for an entire month. Match the designs. Clients love thoughtful luxury personal shoppers.   
  1. Know basic tailoring. Again, if you are shopping for luxury clothes, teach yourself some basic tailoring techniques like shapes and sizes. This will come in handy when you want to pick out a perfect fit for your client. You also have to know how different clothes will look like in your clients body type,and by their age and the budget that you have.
  1. Have a diverse clientele. Do not just shop for rich people. Growing your clientele will mean going up and down the social ladder. Offer your services to anyone who needs them. Do not limit yourself.
  1. Please your client. Customer satisfaction is always important in any business. Your client should be happy with everything that you do for them. Always ask for feedback to know what you can improve and offer your best service to them. If your client is unhappy, they will withdraw from you and you will lose money.
  1. Do your own deliveries. If you can, buy a car. If you have one, even better. Having your own vehicle will allow you to save on transportation costs. You do not have to pay a third party to do the delivery for you. You can do it yourself. If you are handling multiple clients, schedule a day when you can drop off the items for them.
  2. Always learn or keep abreast with different industries to help recommend good investment for your clients. 
  3. Love your client. Luxury buyers, most of them are emotional buyers. Don’t go on telling the whole village about them, they will find out and that’s how you’re out of business. Love your client by keeping their secrets and treating them as a friend. 

Luxury personal shopping is an exciting industry to be in Kenya because of the growing rich(middle and high, ultra-wealthy).

The services for the luxury personal shopper will continue to rise as long as Kenya’s wealthy taste increases. We want to have unique pieces of products, jewellery to differentiate ourselves from the rest but we don’t know where to get started.

There aren’t luxury boutique malls like Louis Vuitton in Kenya or Chanel yet but in a few years, they will be there. Our economy is growing and so is the appetite for the rich.

Be a trustworthy person that loves your clients, don’t speak to others about your clients. Remember to have knowledge about wines, champagnes, art pieces, jewellery, furniture, music instruments; all the industries selling exclusive pieces. Important cars.

Acquire experience by researching what customers or ‘’exclusive Kenyans’’ travel out of the country for. Observe what they wear by taking walks in the neighbourhoods and schools to see what their kids wear or travel to ‘luxury’ malls like the Sarit or Two Rivers Mall to see what clients buy.

Know your clients and what they want because of knowing your clients. Persevere, like any business, the ones that stay despite the hurdles are the winners. Plus, you cannot quit before you achieve the success you desired. Know your niche to get specific clients. 

I cannot insist enough on the importance of a niche. This doesn’t mean not accepting challenges because after all, you are in the luxury market, educate yourself about everything luxury including destinations.

Don’t get afraid of taking on challenges, the more challenges you have the more money you make and the more experience you acquire and clients love experienced shoppers. If you love gossiping there’s a lot to talk about when luxury shopping for the wealthy.

Stop spending your time talking about the obnoxious client, it’s bad manners plus you don’t know who is listening.

Always have a non-disclosure policy clause in your contract.

Remember, any ‘’dry spell’’ in your business means you’re marketing enough or there’s something that needs changing.

Examine your business to understand what you’re missing.

Just because you are dealing with the ultra-wealthy doesn’t mean a bargain is off the market.

Ensure to score good bargains by negotiating.

Be available for your clients via email or calls or Zoom or Skype and if possible or requested a face to face interaction with your client.

Understand your clients needs the spoken and unspoken words. It pays in the end because you get to recommend items your clients never considered.

Yes, luxury personal shopping is a business but enjoy the shopping trips by discovering new items. Become a keen observer by watching what people spend their money on and how it fits your clients.

Are you intending on starting a business as a luxury personal shopper? Are you a luxury personal shopper wondering why your business feels stagnant? 


stephanie

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