We at The Corporate Canvas love discovering women who have the courage, tenacity and drive to start something of their own – it takes great courage to dream, and subsequently do everything in your power to ensure that dream materialises, which is why we were so excited to feature Daniella Emanuel! Daniella identified a market for people who required sartorial advice, and using her years of creative and art exposure, embarked on the journey of founding Shopology – Johannesburg’s premier go-to service for shopping, image consulting, styling and wardrobe organising. Meet Daniella as she takes us through how she used her talents to ultimately consolidate them into a business of unique personalised customer-experience…
Full name: Daniella Emanuel
Current title/company: Director, Personal Shopper and Stylist at Shopology [http://www.shopology.co.za]
Educational background: BA (Interior Design)
Current city: Johannesburg
Daniella, you founded and currently run Shopology, a premier go-to service for shopping, image consulting, styling and wardrobe organising. Could you take us through the journey to founding Shopology? What was the motivation for starting a personal shopping service?
After varsity, when I got my first job as an interior designer, I realised I didn’t want to be sitting behind a desk all day long. I’ve always had a keen eye for style, and of course I love shopping. Friends would often call me for wardrobe and styling advice – at times in a frenzy – while looking for the pair of shoes that they had no idea where to buy. So this was something I was already doing and enjoying – I figured “why not get paid to do what I love?” I was aware of the concept of personal shoppers from my time in New York, but the industry barely existed here, so no one was hiring. I was quite determined regardless, so I decided to start Shopology.
Personal shopping and styling has fast become a lucrative career in Johannesburg. We live in an aesthetically driven & busy society and so it is not difficult to understand the need for this line of business. Could you perhaps describe the process you undertake when a client approaches you to make use of your services?
Clients usually find us via our website (www.shopology.co.za), and whether it’s over email or a phone call, we like to set up a time to meet over coffee. There we get to understand what exactly the client is looking for and how we can help. It’s very important that we understand their lifestyle and budget, so that we can actually solve relevant issues and improve their daily lives – be it through an improved self-image, 15 minutes saved in the morning, or a refreshed interior space.
Once we understand what they need, we plan how we’ll be spending our time – wardrobe organization, personal shopping or styling. For many people a combination of these works best.
Tell us about what you believe will make Shopology a success – are you driven from a business perspective in that ensuring its business sustainability is what is fundamental, or is the core of Shopology first and foremost, fashion?
Ensuring Shopology’s success requires a number of internal and external factors. Externally, the market is still young and many people are not familiar with the concept of a personal shopper, which is a challenge. As the market matures, it gets easier, but it’s hard to measure this growth. However, although the market is young, there is most definitely a market – the challenge is getting to that market. This is where we need to ensure we’re doing everything we can internally to get to the right people. Of course it entails marketing, networking and building strong relationships – with both clients and designers. We need to constantly keep a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in shops and malls, so that we keep our clients happy with fast, efficient service and knowledge. We are focused on the sustainability of the business but really, it’s our passion that drives what we do. Ultimately, Shopology’s success as a business will come from our unrelenting passion for what we do, but in conjunction with a market that is responsive. Without our clients, we are nothing.
Give us a glimpse into the relationship between talent and hard work for a service such as personal shopping – can one survive without the other?
To be honest, it’s a bit of both. It definitely makes life easier if you have an eye for detail, a natural flair for style and design – and a very good memory. But principles of styling and bespoke shopping can be taught to anyone willing to learn. Whether you have natural talent or not, there’s no skipping the hard work. There is so much out there – it’s impossible to know where to shop for everything without putting in the hours.
You have years of art and creative exposure under your belt, having qualified as an interior designer. Is your art experience an important characteristic in how you perform in your business?
My experience in art and design has been of major help, particularly when it comes to styling clients and interiors. Essentially, design is a principle that can be applied across many mediums. People all have different faces, body shapes, hair and skin tone. Understanding how different fabrics, garment styles and colours work with a person’s body to accentuate or mask different features is probably the most important skill to possess when styling someone. We’ve had clients who have told us that their colleagues were all asking how they lost so much weight, when in actual fact, we had just dressed her in clothes highlighting all the right areas to accentuate her shape.
What do you personally believe the South African arts, culture and fashion industry needs?
South Africa has such a rich pool of talent when it comes to art and culture. The fashion industry is no different in that regard. I’d like to see more locally designed and produced fashion being sold by big retailers, rather than our malls being continually flooded by massive international brands and retailers. We have built relationships with many South African designers and are always looking to support them. There really is a very high standard of design and garment production from local fashion designers. Our clients are always impressed with the local quality and cuts, but are not always aware that these designers exist or how to get to them.
As a business owner in the creative industry, what have been your most difficult challenges and how were you able to overcome them?
I think the biggest challenge has been selling a service rather than a product. When you can take something tangible home with you, it’s a lot easier to understand where your money went and why. But when you are paying for someone’s time, you are acknowledging the value that someone else can give you with their time – and generally, people are less willing to pay for time than a physical item.
Overcoming it involves showing people why our time is worth paying for. They have to see us as experts in our field – something that not just anyone can do. It’s the same reason they’ll willingly pay a lawyer for their time. To make sure we’re perceived as experts in our field, we are constantly sharing our knowledge through social media and our blog – sales, quick styling tips, shopping advice, seasonal trends etc. As I mentioned before, we constantly have a finger on the pulse – we just need to show the public that we have great value to add.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
A day could start with anything from a morning meeting with a designer to see a new collection at their studio or a wardrobe organisation and building a virtual closet where I make outfits for a client. There will usually be some personal shopping so going to pick up a pair of shoes from a designer and dropping it off at a client’s house. Other times it’s meeting a client at the mall to do a shop for a specific item or a whole new wardrobe. Part of my job is knowing what’s on trend and in stores, so I go shopping in the malls at least once a week. I attend a lot of fashion events so maybe a fashion show or store opening in the evening.
Advice for aspiring personal shoppers & business owners?
It’s never going to be easy owning your own business but it’s definitely worth it. If you think you’re up to it then go for it, but go all out. Be willing to work hard and get creative when problems arise. It if doesn’t work one way – try it another. Don’t ever get high on your supply – meaning be obsessed with what you do but don’t use it all up for yourself.
Morning or night? Night-owl is an understatement .
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and what would you order? Rachel Zoe (celebrity stylist). I would order pasta – we work with real beauty on real bodies.
I wish I knew how to…Play the drums.
African women are… It’s hard to generalise Africa’s melting pot of culture
South Africa is… A place I’m proud to call home.
Worst money mistake… Spending it all on clothes. What? I’m a shopaholic!
Best investment… Black leather jacket.
Motivation in 3 words… Don’t overthink it.
Connect With Daniella: