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How Does a Personal Shopper Work?

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What Is a Personal Shopper?

Personal shoppers do exactly what their name suggests: They shop for people who don't have the time, energy or expertise to do so. They are hired by clients to shop for everything from clothing to shoes to more personal items, depending on their area of expertise. Personal shoppers can work as consultants and work on their own in a small business, or they can work for department or boutique stores and be hired out.

Personal shopping is all about individualized attention, and a personal shopper generally meets with a client to determine what her personal style is and what she is looking for in terms of fashion. The shopper will then go on to shop for the client and do her best to stay within the client's taste.

Personal shoppers will often advise clients on what is in fashion at the moment, what attire should be worn for the season and how personal style can be incorporated into the season's new fashions. They will generally shop for entire outfits for a client, including shoes and accessories, unless the client requests otherwise.

Getting a Job as a Personal Shopper

While there is usually not an advanced degree or coursework requirement for a job as a personal shopper, employers do tend to look for applicants who have a background in fashion, as well as retail and sales. Breaking into the field may be difficult, but working in sales in the clothing department of a store or in a boutique is a great way to get to know frequent shoppers and offer personal shopping services. As clients spread the word about their satisfaction with a personal shopper's stellar skills, more clients should request the same services.

Work Hours and a Personal Shopper's Job

An independent personal shopper's hours can be erratic. He works when a client requests a meeting to discuss style preferences, events or occasions, and stores and boutiques he likes, and generally the budget. Then the personal shopper heads out to the stores the client has requested, and may shop at some stores the client has not requested but that fit the client's personal style.

Personal shoppers, especially those who own their own businesses, can make a great deal of money. As they gain recognition, their rates can increase substantially. When they work for themselves, personal shoppers set their own rates, either hourly or a flat fee. When personal shoppers work in department stores, they are paid an hourly rate, depending on experience.

Personal shoppers can also go on to become stylists as they gain recognition. Celebrities call on stylists and personal shoppers often to keep them up-to-date and in style on the red carpet.

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