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Photo Courtesy Lucia and Amanda
Interview

AMANDA SHEPPARD & LUCIA TAIT

04.30.12

Coup de Coeur Shopping Concierge is a New York City based personal styling service founded in 2007 by Amanda Sheppard and Lucia Tait, who met as students at FIT.

Interview

Did you guys start out as stylists or personal shoppers?

Amanda Sheppard: Our business really started with a tour format, shopping with clients around the city and exposing them to new designers, boutiques, styles and neighborhoods. Styling was an integral part of making the experience personalized for each client.

Lucia Tait: We like to call ourselves ‘personal stylists’. Although we’ve done freelance styling for sites like Vogue.TV and StyleCaster, we keep our business to only private clients. We shop with our clients for wardrobe updates, specific items and now bridal. We use the same kinds of resources and methods a stylist would use for a photo shoot, but instead of pulling items from designer showrooms or retailers, we go directly to the source with our clients.

What did you do before launching your business?

AS: I was working in some form of personal shopping, from an indie designer boutique in Alabama at age 15 to Girlshop.com as Head of Personal Shopping.

LT: After FIT, where Amanda and I met, I did a second internship at Nylon magazine followed by a language course in Paris. My first job was at luxury travel magazine Elite Traveler, in advertising and marketing. I stayed in luxury but moved from publishing in to retail when I took a merchandising position at Vivre. I became the online editor, working with designers and brands on how to best represent their products online, and I wrote the product and editorial copy.

Do clients that use your shopping service always need styling advice or just an entry point to certain showrooms etc.?

AS: Clients need the ease of having someone streamline the process, whether they are shopping for a seasonal wardrobe update or a wedding dress. We pre-plan every aspect of the experience to ensure that each client has the best options presented to them.

LT: Our clients come to us because they are looking for insider knowledge and styling advice. Access to showrooms or to private/VIP areas of stores is only one part of the experience. Working with us not only makes the shopping process easy and efficient, it gives our clients personalized guidance. We coach our clients on how to pick the best size and silhouettes for their shape, how to wear specific trends or accessories and how to put together head-to-toe looks.

How do most clients find you?

AS: We work with high end hotels, personal concierge services and event planners, but also have happy clients refer us to their friends and family.

LT: We also get a lot of clients from our press. We’ve been lucky to have our business featured in media outlets including WWD, the New York Post’s Page Six magazine, Elle Accessories, Daily Candy and Gotham and we’ve given been asked to share our ideas and tips for articles in magazines like InStyle and People Style Watch.

How many are recurring clients?

AS: Most of our NYC based clients are recurring, and I’ve worked with a few long-distance after we have established a rapport.

LT: We have a lot of clients who come back to us and even more that refer or gift our service to their friends and family.  One of our favorite stories is from a young professional couple who I worked with a few years ago. The husband surprised his wife with a day of shopping with a car service and shopping allowance for an anniversary present. We had a great time picking out a dress for their anniversary party, as well as a few key pieces for a wardrobe update. About a year later, the wife called us and wanted to plan the same surprise for her husband in return. So sweet!

What price points are you usually shopping?

LT: We have helped clients find great pieces at samples sales and stores like H+M and Topshop. On the other end of the spectrum we have clients that we take to showrooms to work directly with designers on custom designs and clients for whom we book the best private suites in stores like Bergdorf’s, Barneys and Saks.

What are each of your strengths?

AS: I feel like I have a calming effect on stressed out clients, especially brides-to-be. I also have a good eye for what makes women look longer and leaner, being petite myself.

LT: I think helping clients create head-to-toe looks is one of my strengths. I love seeing an ensemble for an event come together.

You’ve recently started concentrating more on bridal parties. How did this come about?

AS: We really were hesitant to work on the actual wedding dress, but when the first client came to us I found that it wasn’t as scary as I had imagined! There is a lot more out there since the days of the crinoline and puffy sleeves.

LT: When we started we swore we wouldn’t do bridal because of the supposed intensity and stress around the entire wedding planning process and we were used to our clients shopping with us either for leisure or for easy seasonal updates. As we got older and our friends started getting married they were asking for our ideas and referrals and we realized that contributing to a wedding is a really gratifying process. It is such a reward to see our brides’ beautiful wedding pictures and knowing that they will always remember what they wore.

What’s you new favorite place for bridal?

AS: They’re all so wonderful for different reasons! Carolina Herrera for the traditional, mature bride, the Marchesa showroom is a really special experience that we have had the pleasure of offering clients, and for the unconventional bride I love working with designers like Chadwick Bell and doing something couture.

LT: We are very excited for Monique Lhuillier to open in New York soon and we always enjoy seeing the new designers that Gabriella Rissati discovers for her store Gabriella New York Bridal Salon. Stone Fox Bride, which just opened Soho, is great for the edgy ‘non-bride’ bride.

Do you ever feel like you are the wedding planner?

AS: Not yet! We’ve been lucky that most of our clients already work with amazing wedding planners, like Francesca Events. We have had clients request for us to come to the wedding to style the day of, which I think is a great way to ensure that everything is in the right place – especially in pictures.

LT: We are responsible for only  a handful of components out of the multitude that go in to planning a wedding. One of the most important parts of our role is picking a dress that works with the entire concept of the event.

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