Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 58 seconds
On the whole, I don’t like shopping. But I do like shopping for Christmas gifts. Still, at around this time of year, I’m about ready to hand over my list to someone else — say a personal shopper? And if she can help me find that perfect outfit for Saturday night’s holiday party? Even better.
Meet Elana Pruitt, a personal shopper in the L.A. area of California. Elana isn’t just a shopper. She helps her clients figure out what they need and how to find it. She also writes about fashion at her blog, Good Girl Gone Shopping. Here’s how she uses math in her job.
Can you explain what you do for a living?
I am a personal shopper and wardrobe consultant. My day-to-day schedule is never the same because the services I carry out are based on the every individual’s needs. I am committed to helping men and women find quality fashion not just for affordable cost, but at their specific budget. My job entails a variety of duties for my clients: re-organizing closets, styling new outfits using the clothes they already own to prove the versatility of their wardrobe, shopping with (or without) the client at particular stores or online, styling new purchases with their existing wardrobe after a shopping trip, and conducting online research.
Although my services are affordable, I realize that hiring a personal shopper and wardrobe consultant is a luxury. So the other half of my job entails writing about fashion. On my blog, Good Girl Gone Shopping, I provide helpful information about shopping and fashion, with references to our culture, entertainment, and the celebrity phenomenon.
When do you use basic math in your job?
I’ve never been asked this question before – it’s a good one! In thinking about how I incorporate math into my job, I realize that I use it frequently. From counting items in a client’s closet to calculating my gas mileage for a shopping trip to scheduling appointments throughout the month. Everything I do involves the basics of math: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and percentages. Most of the time, I don’t consciously think about the fact that math is a natural, necessary, and unavoidable component of my business. The main time when I am aware that I am using math is when there is a transaction of sorts. I charge hourly rates and a commission percentage of purchases, which needs to be clearly defined to the client. In addition, I sell advertising space on my Good Girl Gone Shopping blog. This also needs to be clearly structured for the client to understand (ads can be sold on a 6-month basis or yearly). Those two specific situations are when I am so happy I paid attention in math class throughout college!
I am usually old school – I use a good ol’ pencil and paper most of the time. Then to double check my work, I use the calculator either on my computer or from my phone.
How do you think math helps you do your job better?
For my job, it’s not that it makes it better – it’s just a part of it. Math is that essential to my work as a personal shopper, wardrobe consultant, and fashion blogger.
How comfortable with math do you feel?
Basic math is second nature to me. Algebraic formulas take more effort. But fortunately, I’m doing something right, because I am able to successfully see my job through, from the consultation with the client to follow-up communication after my service with him or her is complete. Overall, I feel comfortable with math…basic math.
What kind of math did you take in high school?
I took Pre-Algebra, Algebra, and Geometry. I do recall struggling with Geometry. I have always respected those who excel in the study of math, because it requires such analytical thinking. I hate to say I wasn’t good at it, but let’s just say I would never choose to enter that field!
Did you have to learn new skills in order to do the math you use in your job?
The skills I use now are pretty much standard. Students everywhere need to erase this thought from their brain, “I don’t know why I’m taking this class, I won’t need it in the real world when I grow up!” The journey throughout adulthood can be amazing if you are knowledgeable and skilled in a multitude of areas. Never say never!
Have you ever wondered how personal shopping works? Now’s your chance to ask Elana. Post your question in the comments section!