How Selling Designer Shoes Changed My Life

What does one wear to their first day of selling designer shoes at Nordstrom? Blazers seemed to be out of the question: slipping one on made me feel like a fraud; like a little girl pretending to be a successful saleswoman. But alas, I had no choice.

Yes, for my very first job, I was selected to sell Salon Shoes at Nordstrom, where the daily goal for each salesperson was to sell $1000 worth of shoes per day. PER DAY! As someone who had never sold an item in their life (save for Girl Scout cookies and lemonade), I was scared.

On my first official day of selling, I helped a few customers but had zero sales. ZERO. I was so upset I cried the entire train ride home.

When I first started, I would walk into our stockroom desperately trying to avoid the giant poster indicating who sold how much each day. If one sold enough, they could make it to the Top 10 Board (those who sold the most not just in their department, but the entire store). Despite my initial shortcomings, my steep competition, and the fact that I, a part-timer, was up against full-timers, I was determined to make the Top 10. 

And so I learned to hustle. I memorized brands, style names, shoe sizes, price ranges, color and size availability. I grew a thick skin after countless ignored greetings or lost sales. I began to lean on my coworkers for support and help, who eventually became close friends I could share a meal with.

Suddenly, my blazers fit. A crisp black blazer matched with black jeans to command authority, spiced up with a scarf or clip in my hair. The look I once dreaded, I now loved.

The blazer I once hated was now part of my working identity.

And then, suddenly, jarringly, in the middle of July: I see my name on the Top 10. #8, the sign reads, Skylar from Salon Shoes. My heart stops, my world stops. I stare at the chalk far longer than necessary, hands shaking. Is this real, or another dream? But no: it’s real, and I have made it.

In actuality, I had made it far before this moment. I made it the moment I realized I could succeed in this job: Selling shoes was never about the shoes, but about selling myself. I was selling myself as an educated, knowledgeable, and confident young woman– and that’s what made the sale. It was how I presented myself, largely in part to how I dressed (at this time, I would like to shout out my mom for all the support she gave me, especially in the fashion department. I could not have been as successful as I was without her everlasting advice!). So, without further ado, here is my last week at Salon Shoes as seen through my outfits:

Day 1

This is one of my favorite outfits because of the simplicity and subtle accents. I purposely matched the gold on my sweater to the stripe on my jeans (which also matched the gold on my shoes!). Having a “three item” look is really important because it automatically makes the whole outfit look professional. That is why blazers work so well: they automatically add a “third piece.” In this outfit, my third piece was my belt. Without the belt, the whole outfit would have looked too casual.

Sweater: Cinq a Sept Belt: Madewell Jeans: Madewell (Cali Denim Boot)

Day 2

The pop of yellow really stood out, especially since it matched my shoes. Color coordination is really important because most people acknowledge it subconsciously, therefore making you a better candidate to buy shoes from.

After all my talk before, you might be wondering why I am not wearing any blazers this week. The answer is simple: they were all in the dry cleaning. Oops!

Jacket: J. Crew Sweater: Forever 21 Jeans: Madewell (Cali Denim Boot) Shoes: Prada Necklace: Brandy Melville

Day 3

I went for an edgier look in this outfit, choosing silver and black as my main theme. Those who know me might find this surprising, as I typically shy away from silver and prefer gold. Still, I felt confident in this outfit (and it showed!)

It was also quite funny the range of compliments I got on my top. Some people told me it was “absolutely adorable” while another asked me if I was ready for Happy Hour after work. Welp.

Day 4

The camo jacket strikes again! I was glad I was able to get so much use out of it– I have actually had this jacket for a few years, but could never find the right outfit to wear it with.

Jacket: J. Crew Shirt: Madewell Jeans: Madewell (Cali Denim Boot) Shoes: Opening Ceremony

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