What Vermonter has not gone to Montréal in hopes of clothes shopping, and then didn't have a clue where to start? OK, me. But I'm willing to bet plenty of others could use some help, too.
Janna Zittrer offers exactly that. The 29-year-old lifestyle journalist launched Montréal Shopping Tours just over a year ago. The "shopper-in-chief" is a native of the city and bilingual, though raised anglophone. Her passion for fashion came early in life when, she says, "my lack of artistic ability inspired me to convey my creativity through my clothes."
But it was in journalism school that she discovered she could combine her love of writing and fashion. Since then, Zittrer has written for numerous print and online publications, has appeared on "ET Canada" as a fashion expert, and has been a trend presenter at stores such as Banana Republic.
With her knowledge of and connections at boutiques in Montréal, Zittrer hit upon the idea of helping others "shop like a fashion editor." Since April 2012, she's been leading customized shopping expeditions, for approximately four hours each and a maximum of six clients at a time. She fine-tunes the trips according to themes such as active wear or special-occasion outfits. Her clients span ages from twenties through sixties.
Zittrer discussed dressing and age, body image, shopping with guys, and who's the most fashionable: Vermonters or Quebecers. Read on.
1 You have age boxes for clients to checkon your online sign-up form, up to 60+. How do you direct a shopper who issignificantly older — or younger — than yourself?
I startwith the notion that a number doesn’t always define a person’s age. Dressingyour age means feeling comfortable and confident while playing up your bestassets, so it really comes down to the individual clients, what sort of image theywant to project, and what works best for them.
2 Do you build in any time for personalconsultation for an insecure or clueless shopper?
Thereis a personal-styling element to the tours, but ultimately the goal is to helpour clients discover Montréal’s best independently owned boutiques and locallybased brands. Of course, clients are welcome to share their personal-stylegoals so that I can incorporate them into the itinerary and meet their needs.
3 What is the main reason for shoppinginsecurity that you have observed?
Peopleare often intimidated by small boutiques for fear that the staff will be dismissiveand snobbish. I will say this: As a shopper, you should never feel scared toask a question or pressured to make a purchase. I make sure that is never thecase with Montréal Shopping Tours, and the store staff I work with are some ofthe kindest people you’ll meet in Montréal.
4 Can you think of an example of a fashion"victory" with someone that you were particularly happy about?
Irecently worked with a client who had lost more than 50 pounds. She spent solong hiding under clothes, however, she wasn’t able to fully appreciate howfantastic she looked until she saw herself in pieces that actually flatter (ratherthan conceal) her figure. By the end of the tour, I could see a realtransformation in how she saw herself, and I could not have been happier forher.
5 Are all your clients female? If there are any guys,why do you think they signed up?
Womendo make up the majority of my clientele, but we do run tours for men as well.As far as I can tell, men mean business when they shop: They want to get ’erdone, and I’m happy to help narrow things down and make the process as smoothand pain-free as possible.
6 When you go shopping, do you go out in acar/van, use public transportation or what?
Ourclients are treated like VIPs from start to finish. Every tour includestransportation in a sleek black SUV, complete with a driver and door-to-doorservice.
7 Who has the best fashion sense, Americansor Canadians? No, let me fine-tune that: Vermonters or Québécois?
I’veseen plenty of fashionable college students on Church Street and country chicdone right in Stowe, but I still have to say Quebecers, of course. We havesuch incredible design talent here and a unique flair for bold and creativestyle.