Have you ever wondered who picks out those cool rings and necklaces you find at your local Nordstrom store? Or who decides which fringe bags are in stock this season? Well, the answer, my fashion friends, is an accessories buyer! They work at the corporate level to arrange what items are sent out to the stores. I was lucky enough to be able to talk to BP. Assistant Accessories Buyer Sam Howard, and she gave me the scoop on this awesome job.
As an assistant accessories buyer, Sam is in charge of meeting with vendors (companies with their own designers) to create “assortments” of accessories for Nordstrom. She looks at trends on the runways and on the street to determine what Nordstrom should carry each season. The most important thing about these assortments, she says, is making sure everything has a purpose—that there are pieces for everyone and for every occasion.
So, how did she get such a cool job?
While Sam was in college (University of Delaware, B.S. in Fashion Merchandising), she interned at Urban Outfitters, working as an assistant to the buyers in the denim and jackets department. After she completed her internship, she was hired to be the merchandise assistant for denim and jackets at UO. Then she moved up to be an associate buyer for the dresses department. She came to Nordstrom five months ago and is loving it! I asked her about the transition from apparel to accessories, and she said, “I thought it was going to be a lot harder than it actually was… [but] there was definitely a learning curve. Apparel construction is very different from accessories construction.”
I asked her if she had any advice for someone interested in buying, and she gave me these tips:
- • Use connections, if you have them, to get your foot in the door.
- • Be willing to try anything. Don’t turn down a job, even if it isn’t in the field in which you think you want to work. You can always learn from those experiences.
- • Make sure you have on-the-floor retail experience, because at the end of the day, the customer is the most important thing to the company. Being able to relate to and communicate with the customer is extremely important in a job like buying.
- • She recommends getting a degree like hers, which deals with the business end of the industry as well as its creative end.
Stay tuned for the second half of this interview, in which I ask Sam about some of her favorite trends and celebrities and her must-haves!