Interview with Amanda O’leary, Fashion Forum Speaker at Startup Fashion Week Toronto

Yesterday was STARTUP FASHION WEEK’S media opening night. There was such a vibrant and lively crowd. For those who don’t know, this event is all about bringing startup entrepreneurs together by providing a one week program filled with events that will help them connect, launch and accelerate. The event runs from Monday Oct,4 to Friday Oct […]

Yesterday was STARTUP FASHION WEEK’S media opening night. There was such a vibrant and lively crowd.

For those who don’t know, this event is all about bringing startup entrepreneurs together by providing a one week program filled with events that will help them connect, launch and accelerate. The event runs from Monday Oct,4 to Friday Oct 7 in downtown Toronto be sure to check it out.

Amanda will be one of the speakers on fashion career forum which will take place on Wednesday Oct 5 at Aird & Berlis LLP 181 Bay St. Suite 1800 Toronto. I interviewed her to get a feel of what the speakers will be talking about and also to know what it takes to be a buying assistance.

Hope you enjoy this interview.

Buying Assistant at Hudson's Bay Company. Photo Source: LinkedIn
Buying Assistant at Hudson’s Bay Company. Photo Source: LinkedIn

Question: Please tell us a little about yourself

I’m a buying assistant for private brand. I’ve been in this role for over two years now and it’s been great so far. Before that I had worked as a buying assistant at another department store, buying coordinator and other various roles.

Question: What will you be discussing at the startup fashion week?

At Startup Fashion Week I’ll be answering questions by our host, discussing some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned over the course of my career in the fashion industry, what I do in my current role as well as how emerging talent can connect with us and get their foot in the door with department stores.

Question: How would you describe what you do?

I’m responsible for overall merchandise performance. I partner with my business manager/buyer and many other teams to ensure that the right product is selected, ordered, arrives at a time that makes sense seasonally with other items, promotional activity and ultimately the final results of the products.

Question: What does your work entail?

I run weekly reports for analysis, work with new vendors on set up, create and maintain product information, process documents for purchase order creation, activate promotions to drive sales, work with many people to have our products featured in internal and external press amongst many other tasks. Everything I do involves liaising with a number of other teams integrated together to make it all happen.

Question: How did you get started at your job?

While in college I was interning in Human Resources in recruiting, and then was hired on full time in HR. My team was wonderful about helping me make the transition to buying so I watched for my opportunity and was ready when it came. When moving to my current company it was through a former colleague I had met while in HR and stayed in touch with who reached out to me about a role that was opening and it turned out to be an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

Question: What do you like about your job?
I enjoy seeing and working with new products. It’s interesting to see the new ideas that are happening in both private brands as well as other area and watching the trends; products are always a fun part of the job.

Question: Is there anything that you dislike?

There are certainly times that are more frustrating than others, but at the end of the day there’s nothing I dislike about it.

Question: How much money do you make as an assistant buyer?

Each buying assistant will vary based on experience, size of portfolio, company and many other factors, so there is a lot of opportunity to do well for yourself in this role.

Question: What education or skills are needed for your job?

I would recommend either college or university first, it’s not mandatory but it certainly helps. Having gone to college myself there are so many lessons I learned there that I use daily. I’d also recommend interning as much as possible, even if the role isn’t exactly buying, or whatever area it is you’re looking to get into there’s always a ton of valuable information you can learn through doing different roles as well as watching and connecting with others.

Question: What is the most challenging about what you do?

There are always a ton of moving parts no matter what your role is in this industry. Sometimes it can be a challenge to get everybody on the same page with an idea as everyone has a different opinion, but that’s also a good thing because it opens everyone up to a different way of thinking from time to time. Not always easy but it’s worth working through!

Question: What is the most rewarding?

Working on a project with a number of other people and then seeing it come to fruition. When you spend months putting together plans,processing all the moving parts, executing strategies, and then finally product arrives and you have a great response from customers in both sales and comments everyone is happy.

Question: Is there any advice that you would offer to someone considering this career?

While the product side of the role is fun and exciting, it’s a lot more numbers based and processing than people often think. Seeing product is a smaller part of what I do, it’s more processing product information, creating strategies for the product and working on things to do with the product than actually seeing it or being surrounded by it.

Question: Is there anything else you would like people to know about what you do?

The role presents new challenges to work through all the time so it’s a constant learning position but if you’re willing to put the work into it anyone can be successful and then there’s a lot of room for growth.

Thanks Amanda, and it was nice getting to know you.

You can learn more about the event here: Startup Fashion Week

  1. Thank you for all of these awesome questions! I loved the one about the challenges – because it’s true, often it is sooooo challenging to get everyone in the same room agreeing!

  2. Amanda’s role sounds very interesting – I can imagine she went down very well as one of the speakers on the fashion career forum!

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