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Confessions of a Buyer: Meet Lori Caplin, Neiman Marcus Buyer


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Have you ever wondered who decides what is selected for major department stores? Neiman Marcus buyer for Women’s Apparel, Lori Caplin, visited San Antonio to present how she selected her top pieces for this Season based on the top trends and also on her own eclectic style. We had the chance to get an exclusive interview where we discussed the ins and outs of her job while also sharing tips to getting your dream job!

SLTV: Welcome back to San Antonio! I hear it’s been 12 years?
LC: It’s been a while…I was afforded the opportunity to open this store. And then as you can tell, our schedules get so busy, but it’s not for lack of wanting to come because every market is really special in itself. I love it because it’s like having, umm, your own set of children because everybody has their own personality. So, when I go to Market I get to operate in that sensibility. Even though we have 5 Texas stores, I don’t buy for all them the same way because each of them are their own personality. You buy “linear” so that you can test it into what compliments them and works for each of them.

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SLTV: Of course, and how did you even get into this career? It seems so glamorous and fascinating!
LC: Haha! Glamorous… Everybody wants to associate retail with glamour. Listen, there are many glamour highlights, but it’s a lot of hard work like any other job. When you put your heart and soul into anything it definitely has it’s hard moments. When I was young, I always knew I wanted to work in fashion. I just happened to be one of those kids that actually knew what I wanted to do. And, like I said during the show, I would always experiment with a lot of things and my mom would just literally give me the freedom! Then there was a moment of, “Wait a minute, you could actually make a career out of this!”. And so, I had done an internship in my senior year of college and I did it at Neiman Marcus. But what I really thought I wanted to do, because I enjoyed people and I enjoyed being on the Sales Floor, I thought I was going to be on the Sales side of the stores, until I got a taste of the Buying Office. Then I realized, “Oh my goodness! I get to use BOTH sides of my brain!” This [job] is highly analytical, and yet, at the same time it is very creative. Fast forward, I’ve been with the company for 24 years! I worked my way up from being an Assistant, to Associate Buyer to now, Buyer for Fine Apparel.  I can’t complain!

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SLTV: So inspiring, Lori! Any advice that you can share for those aspiring towards a career like yours in fashion?
LC: I would say a couple of things. You think that you don’t like Math, but you start applying it when it’s something that you truly enjoy and it’s applicable to something that you understand, it comes way more natural. So, don’t let the Math scare you! Also, work on your communication skills because you never know who you’re working with, you never know who you’re going to speak to and also, you just have to be a very good communicator to get your point across in order to have a conversation. Not only to, maybe a customer, but also the vendor side of it. So, communication is really important. At the end of the day, no matter what job you do, no matter what you choose in life, it should always be something that you enjoy doing because you shouldn’t be a slave to your work. You know, we all need to work for a living, but there are so many aspects and so many places to work in this world, you don’t have to be in a place where you’re not happy. At the same time, things take time. Nothing is overnight; this is a marination! There will always be some hard times, but know this: You will always learn from everything! Nothing is a failure, you can’t get anywhere without taking a risk, and everything that you learn only makes you stronger while you become who you’re supposed to be.

SLTV: Now THAT is some solid advice! Thank you, Lori!

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Next: San Antonio Fashion Awards nominee signed to larger market!