Walking down Haight Street on a sunny day in San Francisco, one will see a lot of little shops and boutiques. Ambiance is one of these little boutiques that has three locations, with one of them being on Haight. Inside, the store is filled with dresses, shirts, jeans, and accessories of all different styles and colors for young women.
Lisa Moore, the buyer for Ambiance, is the one responsible for filling the stores with what she thinks her customer would want to wear, at a reasonable price.
Graduating from Sacramento State University with a degree in Documentary Film Making, Moore started out as a cocktail waitress who also worked in stores like BeBe, Contempo, and Macy’s during her summers.
“You don’t have to study fashion to get into fashion…” says Moore, “They [the Fashion Industry] do want you to have as much retail [experience] as possible.”
With all of her retail experience, she then worked as a buyer for Macy’s West Buying Office and now for Ambiance for the past 14 years.
“It’s not my vision, it’s my customer’s vision.” says Moore, stressing how important her customer is to her buying abilities.
Traveling to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and New York, she chooses what her, “Pretty, Girly, Vintage, and Funky,” customers might want to wear.
She also does a good portion of her buying online. About fifty vendors send her pictures of their garments giving her priority over other buyers that do it differently.
Being a buyer is a tough job, were one must take risks. “You have to make mistakes or you’re not taking risks,” says Moore who told a story of how the Poncho trend was in, at the time, and Ambiance would sell out of 100 of them in a week. She ended up buying a huge quantity only to find out that over night the Poncho was no longer a trend. After a short chuckle Moore says, “Mistakes are on the five-dollar rack. It’s very humbling,” she admits.
Moore suggests that students, who want to become buyers, take a lot of business and communication classes. “It’s a lot of negotiating and talking to vendors. [It’s a] Relationship business,” she says.
Her advice for students, in general, is, “To be really clear and focused on what you want to do [and] let everyone know.” she explains that all you really have to do is look up the job description and obtain the qualities that meet them.
The qualities that she looks for when hiring a new employee are their eagerness, their willingness to do a good job in their job description, their communication skills, their willingness to learn, and their love for the business.
By Arilia Winn