April 26, 2012

Personal Shopper to a Personal Shopper!

Hey, everyone I am extremely excited to introduce you all to a friend of mine from the country I truly adore, Italy. Stefano Gasparoli is a Personal Shopper from this beautiful country .He organizes customized shopping trips to Milan and Piedmont. It is always a pleasure to interact with fellow personal shoppers from around the globe as it is such a great opportunity to learn about the people and the culture of their land. So I requested Stefano for a tete-e-tete and he very kindly agreed.
Stefano Gasparoli

Neha:-      Stefano, you know you are the subject of my envy, you have had the opportunity to      work with “THE ARMANI” himself!! Tell us about the experience.
Stefano:- I was lucky to work  for several years managing the technical part of the Milan fashion  shows with many top Italian designers. For a few years I was able to work  for Armani four times a year and even though Mr. Armani is not the easiest person to deal with, I can say it  was a rewarding experience that taught me a lot.

Neha:-     Okay, this is a question that I am always asked so I am going to reciprocate since I have the opportunity, tell me why did you choose such an offbeat profession?
Stefano:-To be honest with you it was the profession that choose me.  I lived in USA for six years and I got back to Italy in 2010. Through  my American friends I met this guy that was looking for someone in Milan to take him to shop around and at the end of the day  we spent together he was very satisfied and told me "you should take this up as a profession"!!
          Neha:-   So tell me how did people initially react to your idea of offering this unique service?

       Stefano:-  The beginning was really  hard just as it is for any other work,then gradually thanks to the qulaity of sevices offered by me and especially by word of mouth,my business increased,also because I work mostly with foreigners,contrary to popular belief,most Italians are not aware of the concept of Personal Shopping Services.

Neha:-      How much time did it take for you to get your first client? Who according to you is eligible to become a Personal Shopper?
Stefano:-It took me two months!! I had to fight to get into this market. People around the world see Milan as a city of fashion . Many  Italians understood that this city could have been a mine for a personal shopper and the competition is high. 
Anyone with a passion for fashion, design and trends can became a personal shopper. However it’s very important to have a good organization,  be determined and  have a good dose of patience and energy.
Neha:-What kind of Initial Investment is required to become a Personal Shopper?
Stefano:-Here in Italy there are several schools that offer classes to learn this new profession. They can be really expensive but in my opinion it’s a big waste of time and money no matter how much they will ask you. Today everyone can learn a lot through the web and especially spending time with people on the field. It’s all another story if you want to offer also a service of image consulting, which require some kind of education
Neha:-     Please tell us a little bit about your clientele? You are also looking to break into the Indian Market, why is India on your expansion wish list?
Stefano:-My clients are pretty much all foreigners. I work mostly with Americans and Russians but occasionally I get European and Arabs. I love to learn and deal with different cultures and if you think the same and know  English decently this is the right profession for you.
I worked representing and managing sales for a famous company of fashion accessories, learning about the market and dealing with all the major fashion brands. Some of our providers were from India and I was able to spend some time with them  during their trips to Italy. I like your culture and traditions. I know personal shopping is new to India too but I’m sure that the market will increase really fast. I also think that you would love to receive this kind of service here in Italy.
Neha:-       Why do you think there is a need for a Personal Shopper? Since time immemorial people have done their own shopping, so what do you think has changed now?
Stefano:-Anyone is free to do their  own shopping but what has changed from the past today is the pace. People don’t have time anymore and what a personal shopper must be good at is saving time, organize the day of the client, and avoid him to get frustrated in searching for the items and getting ripped off.
Neha:-    Besides Personal shopping what other services does your website offer?
Stefano:-I always wanted to be a tourist guide in the past, if you check the services that I’m offering on my site you will see that beside the classic shopping tours, I offer alternative tours where I mix shopping with relaxing  at the spa in the mountains, or visiting cities on the lakes. I also offer a service of cooking lessons.
Neha:-    Last but not the least, what advice would you like to offer to all the aspiring Personal Shopper’s?
Stefano:-Always be  yourself, clients will love it. Don’t try to be all cool and fancy  just  to     impress   them.  
              Buy very comfortable shoes!!! You have to walk for a few miles everyday…
I so agree with you on that,Stefano.Taking someone else out on a shopping spree is not an easy task .Like you said,it requires a lot of patience,energy,knowledge of the current fashion trends,passion for shopping,expert knowledge of the market area and most importantly it is extremely essential to be your self and make it a point to not try and intimidate your client!! And yes investing in a good pair of shoes is a must,great tip!

Stefano,thank you so much for taking out the time for having this chat with me.I would like to wish you all the very best for your future endeavours.It was pleasure interacting with you

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