For designers and salespeople everywhere
This is a touchy topic….how to dress and present yourself in an industry that is fashion conscious (which has some latitude) and professional (but not corporate) and comfortable (but not casual or frumpy). I have had requests to address this as it’s a topic that ownership doesn’t like to initiate for fear of hurting feelings, but often ask me to ‘bring it up’…so here it is.
The company that you represent. Think of adjectives that would describe your company – elegant, sophisticated, whimsical, traditional, etc. – and let those words inform your choices. I had the good fortune of working for Ethan Allen and Roche Bobois early in my career and both had me think of my professional presentation as a reflection of them rather than only my personal expression. This is just another way of creating a seamless experience and satisfying expectations.
If you walked into Chanel, the salespeople would either be wearing Chanel or their presentation would reflect the quality and aesthetic of Chanel. So it is with retail or trade showrooms…you ARE the luxury of home furnishings. With very few high-end retail stores left, this is even more important as you seek to distinguish yourself from middle merchants and show the difference of what top quality is.
Your presentation is a reflection of how you think about yourself, your role and position, and how you think about your clients and prospects. It’s just another way of putting your best forward. On the days that you think of wearing what you can ‘get away with’ and dressing down…those are the days to make a special effort. Your clients can and will dress however they want to dress, but this isn’t about them. It’s about you doing your very best in every way you can.
In a high-end showroom or working with high-end clients, you really need to ‘look the part’. I spend a lot of time with companies creating core competencies for building connection and rapport with a variety of people. By that I mean increasing similarity and decreasing difference. Present yourself to correlate with the lives of those you assist and serve. You may or may not be ‘one of their tribe’ but you need to show that you understand it and appreciate what they appreciate.
Always Remember: How you put color, texture and fabrics together in your dress sends a message of how you can correlate fabrics in a room…not a direct or stated message, but a subtle one.
This is always something to take a look at and explore. Ask yourself: am I too casual or too buttoned up? Do my clothes and grooming show me in the best way? Is my presentation an after thought? Ask someone you work with who always looks great what they think of your presentation…and listen.
In your commitment to excellence, this is just another opportunity to expand.
Now, go sell something!