Nadine Zulu on Building a Career in Retail

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How and why did you get in to the retail space?

I was in Cape Town and walked into a ForEver New store. I fell in love with their product and decided once I got back to Johannesburg that I wanted to work for one of their stores. I called their brand manager and asked if they were looking for anyone and that I was available immediately. They happened to be a staff member down and hired me on the spot.

Have you always been interested in fashion? Do you think a passion for fashion is a must for this work?

I have always had a passion for fashion, from dressing up in my mothers vintage clothing as a child to been the only person on campus rocking stilettos and block heels. To work in retail it is important to have a passion for fashion but more importantly a passion for people.

Have you managed other stores before? If so, what were they?
I have been offered manager positions for many different stores and brands, however I enjoy personal styling and it is a role I chose that bests suits me and my personality.

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What does a fashion loving girl with an interest in retail need to study or know well in order to become a stylist at Top Shop or any retailer?

I did not study fashion, instead I did a BA Dramatic Arts at Wits and a learnership in Wholesale and Fashion Retail through The House of Busby. What got me this position was my ambition and a strong work ethic. Been an over achiever in my work environment and letting my work speak for itself. For this position I recommend that an individual should know customer profiling, who your target market for your specific brand is, understanding that specific brands LSM, body shapes, skin tones, product jargon, trend analysis and people skills.

Now on to your style, how would you describe it?

Since fashion is forever changing and re-inventing itself, I can’t say I have a set style. I don’t follow trends as well. What best describes my style at the moment is a mixture between sporty 90s silhouettes, 80s rock and roll, urban street wear and classic structured vintage pieces. I shop pieces that I can wear regardless of the season or the trend. Creating a timeless look that pushes trend setting instead of following.

If you had R500 left at the end of the month, would you go out with your girls or buy an item of clothing?

A night out with the girls. I love fashion but it is not going anywhere. Memories are priceless.

 What is the one style item every working girl should have in her imaginary walk-in closet?

A good pair of heels in a neutral colour. Heels can take an outfit from drab to fab.

How does one manage to look stylish on the smallest budget?

Budget for one statement piece per month. A great pair of jeans this month, a jacket next month, etc. This ensures a solid wardrobe build over time. Avoid too trendy pieces because as soon as the trend dies, so does your look. Go for seasonal pieces that you can mix and match with the seasons to come.

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What will be your job title in the next three years?

Entrepreneur, business owner. Inspiring the youth.

Your favorite part of your work? 

Seeing the new found confidence clients have after our styling sessions. It is my job not to put you in something you can pick for yourself but to introduce you to new styles you would not have picked, yet bring out your best features. You look good – you feel GREAT!

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