“Sorry,” Gabriel Waller says, with an apologetic grimace. Her phone has been lighting up like a Christmas tree, flashing and winking with notifications several times in the 10 minutes since we started talking at her studio in Sydney's Double Bay.
On each occasion, Waller – an online personal shopper whose client list includes models Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Hailey Bieber – reaches over and switches it off. The phone isn’t taking it lightly. Now, it’s ringing in earnest, a reminder that Waller is in high demand, with customers in corners of the world as far flung as Texas and Dubai.
She sends a message saying that now isn’t a good time and places the phone back on her marble table, face down. It’s a case of out of sight but never quite out of mind, though. Waller knows that when our interview is over and I’m out the door, she’ll open the phone to a buffet of WhatsApp messages and Instagram DMs, all with the same desperate tenor: "Help! This item is sold out everywhere, all around the world. Can you find it for me?"
This is the plaintive plea she has built her reputation answering. Luxury goods are a US$285 billion business (AU $397 billion), with more than half of the market share belonging to women. Yes, there are big brand name boutiques and online stores in which you can browse. But what if they don’t have that perfect designer product from a few seasons ago that you’re looking for, or that in-demand trend piece – a Prada scrunchie, a pair of Chanel dad sandals – that eludes your trawling? Who are you going to call? Waller, a former administrative assistant used to turning requests into reality, is the woman for the job.