Job Title: Homemaker/Retail Specialist
Type of Company: My company sells ready-made curtains and home furnishings to the public.
Education: BA, Science/Clothing and Textiles, with a concentration in interior merchandising, Framingham State College
Previous Experience: I have been the same retail specialist for the same company for the last 17 years, limiting my hours as I had children but staying with the job throughout.
Job Tasks: My job consists of helping people to choose window treatments for their homes. I have to figure out whether the drapes they need are intended to be functional or decorative and help them to coordinate the designs they choose with the existing decor in their homes. I help them choose window shades for room darkening or for light filtering. I educate my customers on the hardware needed for the window treatments they choose. Choosing a proper rod is sometimes the hardest part. They need to know how to install these rods also.
Many of my customers have never decorated their own windows before and I have to ascertain what their likes and dislikes are before beginning. The new treatments need to coordinate with the room and the rest of the house. If you can see one room from another, for instance, you need to insure that colors and patterns in both rooms are compatible. The personality of the client is something that always comes into play: whether they like straight, taut lines or looser, ruffled lines or are aiming for a formal or casual feel -- all of these things are important. Styles in window treatments vary and finding a perfect fit so that the customer will come back when its time to do another room is a paramount goal.
If a customer does not like their choice after getting it home, they can always exchange it, and during my slow time I iron out the returned merchandise and return it to stock. I sometimes help higher management with displays, though this is not my primary role. I have to dust and vacuum the store during down time. I unpack stock received from our home office and shelve it in the proper locations.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is helping people find the perfect curtains for their homes. When someone is happy in their environment they are less stressed. It makes the whole world a better place. Customers often come back to the store with photographs and praise, explaining how happy they are and how they did it "themselves" without hiring an expensive decorator.
The hardest part of my job is having people ask me if things they "like together" work and I have to tell them what I think. I try to steer them to more attractive combinations, but there are times when they insist on the boldness of a stripe and a plaid together.
Job Tips: The more you know about fabrics and their attributes the better off you'll be. The terminology of finishes on fabrics is useful, and it's important to be familiar with the washing instructions for different fabrics and fabric combinations. A willingness to help people and to act as a sounding-board is also important. You should most definitely be a "people" person and enjoy interacting with customers. Computer skills are increasingly a must, since cash registers have now been replaced by computers. Money skills help, but fashion sense and an eye for trends are essential.
Additional Thoughts: The willingness to work weekends is needed more and more now. I have cut my hours in recent years, but I started out in management, right after college, and someday when my children are grown I hope to return to its ranks.
I love my job and customers can sense that I am happy to be doing it. Everyone can sense that in a person and it makes the process so much less stressful when you're being helped by someone who isn't just rushing you along.
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