As Head of Personal Shopping at Arnotts, Clara Halpin knows that presenting your best self to the world is the first step on the road to empowerment.
I have worked in fashion my whole career, and have over 25 years of experience in the fashion and beauty industry.
My background spans all aspects of the industry, including ladies fashions, menswear, accessories, footwear, childrenswear and beauty. I have assumed various roles across these divisions and have worked in management, buying, merchandising, styling and personal shopping.
I take appointments on a daily basis
... and in between times I am working with my team; managing and planning for the department. I could have meetings in house, visits to storerooms to meet with brand agents, site walks for upcoming events, stylist pulls for any Arnotts fashion events that I am involved with… It really varies from day to day but there is always something new happening!
My passion lies with helping women – and men – feel good about themselves
... By helping someone dress in a way that best represents who they are, you can instil a sense of confidence that is really empowering. With the nature of personal shopping being, well, so personal, catering to an individual’s colouring, sizing, lifestyle and so on, you can really have a touching effect on people.
Agility, imagination, adaptability and team work are crucial in the workplace
I have always considered emotional intelligence as a significant quality in an employee or colleague, yet it is something you never see outlined explicitly on a job description. Recent studies have shed light on emotional intelligence and it is fascinating to see the role it plays in day-to-day working life. I also really admire loyalty and it’s always wonderful to have someone who is inspiring to work alongside.
In the fashion industry, there is no hard and fast route to success
It takes hard work and determination and I believe if you truly put your mind to it you can succeed in anything. That being said, fashion is not a frivolous industry and you have to differentiate yourself if you want to be recognised. For me, knowledge is crucial – knowing everything from your fashion history through to your terminology and the names of colours, cuts, fabrics, etc. It is a minefield and there is so much to know. To be really good at fashion you need to know fashion.
Presence is something I really place emphasis on
You need to sell yourself to clients and customers in all respects before they buy into your work, your talent or your product. Other key factors to bear in mind would be strong communication skills, intuition, high energy and a great drive, as well as being adaptable and well-rounded in what is such a diverse and multi-faceted industry.
My best advice for anyone starting out in their career, irrespective of your industry, is to find the best person in that field and benchmark against them
I believe strongly in mentorship: find a mentor and really learn from him or her. Gain as much knowledge and experience as you can, and always be watching and learning.
Opportunities often lie in challenges
In recent years, the recession was probably one of the most significant challenges any business faced. I am always a positive thinker however, and during this time I made a determined effort to change the perception of personal shopping. I attended many networking events and really honed in on growing workwear as a sector of personal shopping. Businesswomen are always on the go and short on time yet are willing to invest in quality workwear. The hard work paid off and over the years we have established a great loyalty base and a successful workwear niche in the department. Just recently, I had a loyal customer update her work wardrobe, and during her appointment she reflected on this being her 9th year to return to use the service!
Have a passion outside of your work
As a young girl I was a champion Irish dancer, and I have stayed been immersed in it all my life; at the weekends I teach Irish dancing through private lessons. It is so fulfilling and rewarding giving back to the younger generation and imparting my knowledge and experience on them as they grow as dancers.
What Clara Can't Live Without:
A bottle of my favourite scent – Lime Basil and Mandarin by Jo Malone.