By NASA MARIA ENTABAN
ONE of the highlights of Tan Yue Lyn’s career as a fashion merchandiser with Vincci+ came in the form of a compliment – from Harry Potter star Emma Watson.
Yue Lyn’s sister, television personality Megan Tan wore a pair of Vincci+ ballerina flats to the London premiere of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows and during her interview with Emma Watson aka Hermione Granger, the actress complimented the shoes she was wearing.
What made that moment so special for Yue Lyn, even though she wasn’t even there, was the fact that she had had a hand in the shoe’s design.
“She absolutely adored them,” said Yue Lyn, 27. “I get a sense of fulfillment when I see people wearing the shoes I’ve helped design.”
A large part of Yue Lyn’s job is improving and refining shoe designs based on market research and consumer needs.
“I’m not technically a designer but what I do is improve and enhance existing designs. It could be changing the shoe’s material to something more suitable or adding sequins, stones and other embellishments, or adding a platform or increasing the height of a heel for example,” she explains.
Most of the time, she spots shoes she has ‘refined’ in malls, but the real reward is seeing them at events.
“It’s getting the brand recognised that gives me a sense of pride and joy,” she adds. “You see your products, your babies, whatever you’ve developed responding in the market, there’s a sense of pride in knowing that your products are selling.”
“Its like I somehow made a difference in a way, people are wearing the shoes we’ve put out there,” she says, noting that she spots Vincci+ shoes on people on the street and at events at least four times a week.
The fashionista, whose sense of style is edgy chic meets retro glam, has always had a passion for fashion.
She started out as an assistant buyer for shoe brand Bata, and over two years ago she landed a job at Vincci +.
A typical day for Yue Lyn involves studying sales reports to see which products are working in the market and which ones aren’t, dealing with suppliers, visiting stores and conducting market surveys.
“When I source for shoes and handbags, I take note of the trends that are out there, such as key colours, shapes, hardware details like materials, embellishments and so on,” explains Yue Lyn, who travels abroad for fashion exhibitions to source for ideas and trends.
“I stick to the key colours of the season, while also taking into account what fits into the Malaysian market. For example, trends that are in line with fall/winter may not always be suitable here,” she adds.
At the end of the day, Yue Lyn explains, it’s all about the customers’ needs and wants.
“What makes a good buyer or merchandiser is being able to study consumers behaviours and catering to their needs,” explains Yue Lyn, whose informal research includes talking to friends and friends of friends about trends they are interested in.
On the other end of the spectrum, she has to have a good relationship with her suppliers while keeping them in check when it comes to prices and delivering orders.
“Dealing with suppliers is the biggest challenge,” she says. “Negotiating prices with them can be pretty tough, I manage cost issues by ensuring they are clear about the current economic conditions.”
“Late deliveries are another issue, as this creates setbacks especially during peak season for example during the festive seasons,” she adds. “One of my responsibilities is always making sure my stores have enough stocks, and ensuring my suppliers follow my order dates strictly.”
Anyone interested in getting into fashion merchandising has to have a keen eye for fashion trends and the ability to study the retail market, according to Yue Lyn.
“Most importantly, they need to be able to understand consumer behaviour and to tailor products to their needs,” she says. “Passion is very important – when you love what you do, everything else like determination, dedication and dilligence will come naturally.”