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Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Being a Buyer


Goodness y'all, it feels like this post has been in the works forever! Without fail, whenever I mention that I am a jewelry buyer I always get tons of questions/DMs/emails asking what exactly I do & how I got into it. So today I am taking all those questions and compiling them into one mega post and spilling everything y'all have ever wanted (or may want to) know about being a buyer!


Q: What exactly is a buyer? 

A: If your wondering what the heck my job actually is- you're not alone! Ha. To put it simply, I work on a few specific proprietary brands for my company & it is my job to find and source the product for those lines. I look for the right product, at the right price, that I know my customers will love! I get a set amount of "receipts" (or open to buy budget) each month and I am tasked with finding the perfect product to spend that budget on. Once I find the items I negotiate pricing with my vendors, work with my planner to figure out order quantities, place the orders, and then work with the many other departments in my company that touch the product before it comes in. 

Q: Who do you work for? 

A: I've never specifically said who I work for, but if you've followed the blog for awhile I'm sure you've figured it out! Since my work-life & side hustle (this blog!) are both in the retail field, I try to keep a very firm line between my work life and my blog life. My company knows about my blog & is totally supportive- but at the same time this blog is not to promote my company or our brands. It's to share the pieces, products & brands I love personally :) All that to say... I don't name names! However I can tell you that I work for a national, multi-channel television retailer as an Associate Jewelry Buyer in Sterling Silver. But trust me, if you stick around long enough you will definitely figure it out ;)

Q: How did you get into buying?

A: This is really a story that could go ALL day but I'm going to try and share the condensed version ;)

When I was in college I took a Retail 101 class and each week we would have a guest speaker come and share their job in retail & they would come from all different areas of the industry to show us how diverse jobs in retail actually were. Well, one week we had a buyer come and speak to us and as she shared her day-to-day role I just knew in my gut that this was my dream job! Since I was a marketing major (under the business school) my first job out of college was for a national retailer but on the planning side of the business since it was more a fit for the skills I had out of school. I got a promotion in planning and then moved to my current company (as a planner) while still dreaming of making the move into buying. Well after 2 years at my company, an assistant buyer position opened up and my boss took a chance on me, and I made the move into buying! I was an assistant buyer for 1 1/2 years before being promoted to my current role as an associate buyer. I love my career and even today it's still my dream job :)

Q: What did you go to school for? Is there a special degree you need to be in buying? 

A: If you're thinking that buying sounds like the right job for you, then you will be thrilled to know there is no special degree required! I was a Marketing major with a minor in Retail, but there are employees at my company with a whole range of degrees! You do have to be willing to start in an entry-level position and work your way up (but that's true of most career fields!). Retail definitely takes a special kind of passion- so if you've got it than this is definitely the job for you!

Q: Are there any special qualifications or certifications to being a jewelry buyer? 

A: Does a willingness to learn count? When I came to my company, my only previous experience was in footwear, but somehow things worked out and I ended up in jewelry. It's taken several years of soaking up knowledge, information, and asking approximately 1 million questions- but I am slowly & surely learning the intricate world of jewelry! There are certifications and things you can get to accredit your knowledge, but if you're not going into a more technical part of the field than they are not necessary.

Q: How do you find product?

A: I quite literally source my product from around the world! I work with about 10 different vendors who either bring their lines to my office or I go visit their showrooms on market trips and we review what is new, what is trending, and what I need to add to my assortment. I travel to market several times a year- 4 times a year to NY, 1 time to Las Vegas, and now 2 times a year to Atlanta. In addition to working with my current vendors I am always looking for new vendors who offer something different or new brands that fill a while space in our jewelry product lines. 

Q: Do you just buy what you like? How do you know what to buy? 

A: Contrary to what people often think, a whole lot of math, numbers, and analysis go into my daily decisions on what product to buy. I run quarterly analysis on my business (in addition to daily, weekly, and monthly sales reports) to see what is working/not working and where there are opportunities for us. My motto is "If my customer loves it- it's gorgeous!" Which means that very often the product I pick may not be my personal style- but if it makes my customer happy than that is all I care about! She guides all my decisions and I'm always asking myself if what I'm looking at adding to the line would motivate HER to buy. Being a great buyer is not about personal taste- it's all about delivering what your customer wants.

Q: Do you just play with product all day? 

A: ha! If I had a dollar for every time someone thought my job was just sitting in my sample room & playing dress up with jewelry.... Well I could afford to just sit in a room and play dress up with jewelry! ;) Contrary to how glamorous it may sound, only about 20% of my job is pulling product for upcoming shows (since we are a tv retailer we build out assortments around planned airtime for the upcoming months). The rest of my time is spent analyzing my sales & business (to see what is working /not working), addressing any issues with incoming orders (from QA testing to shipment delays), and partnering with my TV/marketing/legal/logistics/imaging/creative/planning teams on promotions, business strategies, and any other business needs! I'm also always researching trends & looking for the next big product/brand/vendor that would be a great find for our company. The truth is there are no two days that look the same, which makes each day exciting for me!

If you made it all the way here- good for you!! I hope you learned a little bit more about me, my career, and what it's all about! If you have any additional questions please feel free to leave them in the comments below and I can't wait to answer them!

Have a great one y'all!


7 comments

  1. Gentry this is a great post! I loved getting to read about what you do and how you do it. What a fascinating job and I am so glad you love it.
    xo, Whitney and Blaire
    Peaches In A Pod

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    1. I always hoped that I would find a job a loved- so I am very thankful that is has come to fruition! I'm so happy you enjoyed learning more about it :) Thank you for all your support! XO

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  2. YAY! I loved this post and learning more about what you do as a buyer! I work so closely with my buyers to make sure their prepped and know the collection as well as we do. So it's cool to see what you do exactly! (I'm SO bad with numbers, lol.).

    Pink Champagne Problems

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  3. Sounds like a fun and fabulous job! Great post Gentry!

    xx, Elise
    www.sparkleandslippers.blogspot.com

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  4. This was interesting read. I've always wondered what being a buyer was like. It's so awesome that you are working your dream job.
    http://tresfly.blogspot.com

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  5. I love learning about different careers! Yours sounds like so much fun!

    Kristin
    stripesandsangria.blogspot.com

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  6. So interesting! I love hearing about other people's work. One time, some of our friends got together, and while we were sitting around the fire pit, we all explained our jobs and what a typical day was like at our offices. It seems odd, but it was actually fascinating!!
    It's so great that you found something you were passionate about, and still like doing! Not many people can say that.

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I love reading your sweet and encouraging words! Thank you for taking time to comment! (I reply by email unless you have a "no-reply" address set up)