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Call Centres and Sao Paulo Fashion Week!

As I flew into Sao Paulo 10 months ago, I arrived here safe in the knowledge that I had a job lined up. I was going to be working in an office, selling financial services on the phones for an investment company. My job would be to speak to (well…to speak to/harass!) Brazilian business men and women, and ask them if they were interested in investing their money in things like retirement plans, portfolio bonds or saving for their kid’s education. Looking back, I have absolutely no idea why I genuinely thought a career in personal finance would be a good move (for a former drama student like myself!) But nevertheless, it got me over to Brazil, and I really threw myself into the job….and lasted almost a full 3 months!!!

This would be my daily routine; I would arrive at work and call someone, to ask (using a script) if they wanted to invest their money into a company they had never heard of. After they had told me where to go, I would then call the next person on my list. Then, when they told me ‘thanks, but no thanks’, I would call the next person. Maybe a few times a day someone would say ‘yes’ to a meeting later in the week.

Often when the ‘wealth manager’ got there, it would become clear the person who had agreed to the meeting hadn’t really understood what it was about! (I did send a ‘wealth manager’ to a meeting once, in a recording studio. Turns out the singer was confused. There was someone offering him life insurance, and was expecting some funding for his latest reggae CD!) I would do this all day, from 8.30am-6pm. The job was commission based, and I was told if I worked hard, booked a lot of meetings for the company’s ‘wealth managers’ to attend, and put the hours in…I could be earning a decent amount of money.

Well….to cut a long story short, this wasn’t how it worked at all!

I was often topping the office leader board for the amount of meetings booked each week, and still, I was earning…..very little. My salary was dependant on how well these ‘wealth managers’ were able to sell these plans. And in about 3 months, I earned just over £400. That’s right…whilst I was doing this job, at the same time there were probably kids in sweat shops all over Asia out-earning me! After almost 3 months of repeating the same script, being told ‘no’, and earning very little money….one day it hit me….this really was not the job for me! I was working as an English teacher on an evening, so I took this up full time…and have been a teacher here ever since.

Whilst the telesales job might have sucked big, donkey balls….I can’t deny that maybe the best thing I’ve done in Brazil so far came off the back of it. Blagging my way into Sao Paulo Fashion Week!

Working in a call centre and attending fashion events don’t link so well together, so let me explain! I was at work, having called a few people…I was bored, sat poking people on Facebook and checking out the news pages online, then I saw the fashion week was in town. This event is the 4th biggest fashion week in the world, and I was looking at pictures from the day before, and saw Paris Hilton modelling some slutty dress! At work, my boss always told us we should go to corporate events, to try and network and get peoples numbers (then piss them off by calling, and trying to sell them retirement plans!) So I asked my boss if me and my mate Joe could take the afternoon off work and go, and he reluctantly agreed.

First my mate Joe called up, and they said to him it was invitation only…and not open to the public. I wasn’t having that though; I was well up for the afternoon off! So I called back and told them I worked for Style magazine in London, and that me and my colleague had just flown into the country, and were disappointed to find out our passes hadn’t arrived at the hotel. Our bloody editor hadn’t organised them had she!!!

“No problem Andrew, just come down and I’ll meet you both outside and sort you out with media passes!” I was shitting it when we met this woman at the door, and when she started asking questions about the ‘piece’ we were writing about. I managed to keep my cool, and secure our passes! I thought we might be able to go around, have a look, and then be done in a few hours….but this woman had other ideas! She escorted us past the lines of people outside the runway show, and got us seats to one of the designer’s summer collections. So me and my mate were sat there, watching these anorexic looking models strutting round in hideous clothes nobody would ever wear, wondering how the hell we managed to get in!

After this, this woman dragged us over to a guy, told this guy about our ‘article’…and then informed us we could interview him for a few minutes (“You what luv! Interview him!?!”). He was from GQ magazine, so I got my pad of paper out and started asking him loads of questions about his take on fashion in Brazil.

He just looked at me, and said “I’m so sorry, can we do this tomorrow….I’m so drunk right now, I can barely see straight! Why don’t we all head to the Vogue lounge and have some drinks instead!” So we went, and had pleasant chats about the summer collections we had just seen….whilst downing free champagne! Then out of nowhere, this woman dragged us off again, but this time got us front row seats for the next runway show. After this show, we were in the Elle lounge, drinking champagne, chatting to a writer from Glamour magazine….when she said “Andrew, I’m really interested in what you thought about the summer collection on the last runway!”

I looked at her, then at my mate Joe, and then back at her…..I had absolutely no clue what to say! “Erm….I’ll be totally honest with you, I thought those designs were…ugly!!!”

“Oh my God, I’m so glad someone said that! The clothes did nothing to flatter a women’s physique….I just don’t think the designer gets women at all!” Of course, I agreed with her, and me and Joe then went to the next magazine lounge for some more drinks…before she had chance to ask us anymore questions!

The woman in charge once again appeared from nowhere, and got us seats at the front of the next show. Me and Joe were a little drunk at this point, sat there through a Halloween inspired collection! All very different to the clothes I see in H&M and Top Man!

As a journalist for the afternoon, the highlight of my career was having a fashion blogger tell me that, not only had she read Style magazine, but that she was familiar with my work! Amazing!!!

I’d never considered attending a fashion show before this…they are basically just an excuse for a big piss up!

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