5 MIN­UTES WITH OMOBOLAJI AKINSANYA

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For Omobolaji Akinsanya of La­ma­nee Ser­vices, work­ing in fash­ion doesn’t seem like a ca­reer choice, but a fate that he could not re­sist. In this in­ter­view with KONYE CHELSEA NWABOGOR, he lets us into his world as a per­sonal shop­per and also gives in­sight­ful tips on how to be­come one. How did you get into the busi­ness of be­ing a per­sonal shop­per?

I have al­ways been a very fashionable per­son and keep up with fash­ion trends as they evolve. My rep­u­ta­tion played a role in launch­ing me into the busi­ness I do now. Friends, fam­ily and ac­quain­tances con­stantly reach out to me to help them buy cloth­ing items they see on me. I also re­ceive sim­i­lar re­quests from lo­cally based Nige­ri­ans who want items from abroad and need my help in do­ing so since I live in the UK. Over time, the re­quests have grown enor­mously, and as such re­quir­ing more of my time. I knew I could no longer do it ca­su­ally, so it be­came a ser­vice; a busi­ness. I started charg­ing a fee for en­sur­ing that items were de­liv­ered to Nigerian doorsteps and in the safest con­di­tions…and Voila! La­ma­nee was birthed. For those who are not very fa­mil­iar with the fash­ion world, what does a per­sonal shop­per do?

A Per­sonal shop­per (aka shop­ping as­sis­tant) is one who uses their ex­per­tise and pas­sion to help clients through their shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence by, es­sen­tially, guid­ing them to­wards the prod­ucts and ser­vices that meet their in­di­vid­ual needs. It can­not be easy get­ting clients to trust you with their money 10 es­pe­cially in this era of In­ter­net fraud. How do you work around that? In­ter­net fraud is, no doubt, a great challenge. How­ever, it is not pe­cu­liar to our busi­ness. It per­vades eco­nomic com­merce. There are peo­ple who have lit­tle or no trust in on­line shop­ping, let alone com­mit­ting their monies to some­one else to help them shop. How­ever, we have man­aged to thrive re­gard­less be­cause of our long-stand­ing im­pec­ca­ble track record, and this is so be­cause our busi­ness thrives, largely, on re­fer­rals from our ex­ist­ing clients. We also ad­here strictly to the best eth­i­cal prac­tices and we have not had any case of al­le­ga­tion of fraud­u­lent prac­tice since we started busi­ness. Tell us about some other challenges you face? I haven’t faced any ma­jor challenge be­sides nor­mal one­off ship­ping de­lays or sit­u­a­tions where a cus­tomer re­jects an item and you have to re­turn it to the store. Thank­fully, it’s been a pleas­ant ride so far be­cause I am pas­sion­ate about what I do. Does per­sonal shop­ping typ­i­cally go along with per­sonal styling? Yes it does. Like I men­tioned ear­lier, I am a very fashionable per­son and I be­lieve I have to be a good am­bas­sador to Most per­sonal shop­pers, reach out to clients via so­cial me­dia (prob­a­bly be­cause of vis­i­bil­ity). What are you do­ing in terms of tak­ing your busi­ness past the so­cial me­dia space?

So­cial me­dia net­work­ing is the new face of mar­ket­ing. How­ever, we mustn’t also un­der­es­ti­mate the power of in­di­vid­ual re­fer­rals. De­spite the down­turn in the econ­omy, per­sonal shop­ping seems to be big busi­ness. Why is that so?

Nige­ri­ans are nat­u­rally fashionable peo­ple. Re­gard­less of what con­di­tion the econ­omy is in, look­ing good is se­ri­ous busi­ness for us. It’s how we ex­press our­selves. Have you had any spe­cial re­quest from a client that you knew would be im­pos­si­ble to meet?

Not re­ally, most of my clients have pretty much been very fair and re­al­is­tic. My luck, I guess. What, in your opin­ion, are some of the most im­por­tant skills to have in your pro­fes­sion?

For me, there are six ba­sic must-haves for any per­sonal shop­per: • You must have a good knowl­edge or learn the ba­sics of fash­ion. You can’t fake it. You ei­ther know your onions or not. You must be a very good lis­tener with a high de­gree of pa­tience. Your main goal is your cus­tomer’s sat­is­fac­tion. • You are not just shop­ping for clothes, you need to make ev­ery ex­pe­ri­ence an en­joy­able one for ev­ery cus­tomer. Make them feel spe­cial. • Al­ways stay in touch with your clients • Learn how to say No to clients when you should. Most times, they de­pend on you to guide them through fash­ion dos and don’ts. • It’s also a busi­ness for you. You must have

very good ne­go­ti­at­ing skills. • As­sum­ing your ser­vice is re­quired, what is the best way to get across to you?

You can al­ways get in touch via Mo­bile/ What­sApp : +447492895796, In­sta­gram :

@lama­neeser­vices, twit­ter : @ lama­neeser­vices email : ps@la­ma­nee.com Is there any ad­vice you’d give to some­one who is set on be­com­ing a per­sonal shop­per?

Let your pas­sion drive you. Noth­ing beats mak­ing money out of do­ing what you love.

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