A day in the life of a Nigerian fashion buyer

*Since we did this diary, Bolaji left this job*

I work as the buyer for Grey Velvet Stores which is a retail store that focuses on African-made (more specifically, Nigerian-made) apparel. In the last year, we've expanded from an apparel-only store, to carrying other assortments such as lifestyle items and beauty products. As a buyer, I'm in charge of finding new designers to partner with and maintaining those relationships. With this job however, I get to wear many hats. So I handle not only buying, but merchandising, styling and, occasionally, PR.

I double majored in international business and fashion merchandising at Marist College, Poughkeepsie, NY. The double major was a result of a compromise with my dad because, in typical Nigerian parent fashion, he wouldn't let me study fashion alone. And I'm grateful for that because my business background is especially invaluable in my line of work. 

The fashion department at my university was phenomenal at securing its students amazing internships. I got to work at Tommy Hilfiger and Carlo Pazolini as an Assistant Men's Merchandiser and Assistant Buyer respectively. 

I also got to spend a summer semester at the Fashion Institute of Technology (which I loved!). 

When I moved back to Nigeria, I started NYSC and worked at the primary school I went to (Greenwood School). While at that job, I interviewed at a few places looking for merchandisers. I remember being surprised that the industry here had grown so much that people actually knew what merchandisers were, and were actively looking to hire them.

Then I found a post on Instagram for the position of buyer and applied, and that's how I got my current job. 

A lot of buyers/merchandisers I talked to while at university mentioned that no two days are ever the same and I've found that to be very true. Some days are slow but most of the time it’s extremely busy with zero time for breaks. So, here it is, a day in my life-


- I finally roll out of bed, shower, get ready etc.


- I generally leave for work at this time as 


 one of the lucky few who works pretty close to home . My commute is about 20 mins long on a good day. I have to pay that Lekki-Ikoyi bridge toll everyday though, so I guess you can’t have it all.


- Once I get in, the first thing I do is check my email, and make phone calls. A lot of my work is relationship-based as I interact with the designers themselves a lot.


-  Informal design meeting with our in-house designer. 


 in charge of trend reports and forecasting, as well as, relaying customer buying patterns. We discuss  a lot of things regarding production like new styles, costing & sizing and so on. Throughout the rest of the week, we’ll have check-ins just to make sure we’re on the same page.


- Meeting with the PR/Brand Manger to discuss any promotional events that we want to have. Depending on what kind of event we’re having, we discuss what needs to be done. We’ll decide on graphics for the website and social media, details about sales, plan photoshoots etc.


- A slightly unnecessary phone call from one of the girls in the store. It’s usually to ask me a question that I 100% did not need to be asked, or they already knew the answer to. I try my best to answer like someone with home training.


- Lunch. Usually we order out as there’s a decent selection of restaurants in Lekki. This year though, I’m trying to bring in my own lunch (which is actually much harder than I’d anticipated lol).


- I’ll go into the store in Lekki and do some visual merchandising to make sure that the shop floor is as attractive to the customer as possible. This is much harder than you’d expect as you have to work with varying designers’ aesthetics and make sure they all work together to form pleasing visuals. During this time, I’ll also take note of what gaps in the assortment of apparel we have and how best to fill it. I’ll also speak to the sales assistants to get feedback on what customers have requested for and add that to my notes. If it’s a Tuesday, I’ll head to the Ikeja store instead (in the morning though, no time for that afternoon mainland traffic). Sometimes, our media manager is present, so I can pull items for her to photograph for social media.


- I head back to the office to finish up any work that needs to get done.


- Our official office closing time.


- When I actually leave the office.