Could you please describe your current role at Erdem?
I oversee the worldwide wholesale distribution via various channels for the brand. I develop existing and new business, maximising sales opportunities through our collection and our partners.
Which are the most important markets for you at the moment?
The United States and the United Kingdom are both established key markets that we continue to grow in. Of course, Erdem's brand presence within London (such as the London Fashion Week's shows, the British Fashion Awards, press events throughout the year, and the company’s first retail store in Mayfair) helps support the wholesale business momentum. Our key wholesale partners also continue to grow their online businesses.
What is your typical day at the office like?
I arrive at the office between 9 and 9.30am and have the second coffee of the day (I am half Italian after all) at my desk while sifting through my inbox. Then, my team and I go through the daily and weekly priorities to establish where our focus should be and determine an action plan for the week. I aim to give direction, advice and guidance during these moments. After that, I jump through a series of weekly catch ups with the various divisions of the company reporting on status updates. Through these meetings, we make sure that we get the right product to our accounts at the right time. I am extremely thankful that the whole company is under one roof so we can be very reactive in taking decisions. My days also involve a great deal of planning ahead, for travel, market and events. I rarely leave my desk for lunch but once a week I manage to sneak in a lunchtime tango lesson. I try and leave at a relatively “normal” time when I can, knowing that before, during and after our sales campaigns it proves to be mission impossible, but it comes with the territory.
I spend around a quarter of my working year in Paris and New York for our sales markets which is more intense because you’re away from your routine and you spend all day, every day, talking. A lot. That’s probably why, when I return home, I often spend entire weekends in total silence—a self-imposed talking detox. In addition to this, there is business travel for meetings abroad, trainings, special events and trunk shows. I have always enjoyed traveling and feel lucky for seeing places that I would have never visited if it weren't through work.
What do you enjoy most in your role?
Even though this job is very cyclical I enjoy the variety of challenges that I am up against every season. I thrive on being involved in the company with a 360° view. I still enjoy selling. My father was a very successful salesman and I like to think that I might have inherited that from him. I enjoy supporting my team and feel a sense of real pride in watching them develop within their roles and responsibilities. Lastly and very importantly, I enjoy reaching goals that I’ve set myself, both professionally and personally.
Which are your three biggest headaches at work right now?
Not having enough hours in a day, enough days in the week and enough weeks in a year.
You worked for brands such as Acne and Alexander McQueen. What is the most useful thing you learned there?
From Acne I learned what a well-oiled retail machine looks like. You cannot fault the service that you receive in any of their stores. It’s a luxury service and environment with a contemporary product. This is absolutely unique. I also learned the importance of the extra touches in presentation and service in the showroom that make all the difference, and make a client want to stay beyond their appointment. At Alexander McQueen I learned what it means to work with the security of having a big group backing you. The support given in terms of financial controlling, logistics and customer service was exceptional.
Are there any kinds of tools, applications, or services that make your everyday business life easier?
A great team is my strongest asset by far. My Notes app on my phone is also critical for middle of the night ideas and general list making thanks to which I am mocked endlessly by my family and close friends. I have a list for everything.
You deal with a lot of people on a global level. What kind of personal skills does one need to have to be successful in a role like yours?
I think that it is extremely important to be your most approachable self and to be honest in your advice, goals and opinions. Be interested and interesting. Be understanding and flexible. It’s critical to be supportive of your customers to establish a long collaboration based on mutual respect. Listen when clients talk and absorb everything they say—you need to know where you can push to be able to maximise business for both parties and when you need to take a step back. Share the successes and take responsibilities for failures and disappointments. You need to be organised, mentally and on a day to day basis. You need to be good at time management and prioritising.
When it comes to fashion and business news, what's on your daily reading list? Any great business books you'd like to recommend?
My trade daily reading list includes BOF and WWD, but I think that it is so much more important to be in tune to what’s happening around us in the world rather than in our “bubble” to understand and predict issues and difficulties in our economy that will affect us as an industry. Regarding business books, I can recommend The Checklist Manifesto, Sapiens, Think like a Freak, Psy-Q and People Watching. Not conventional business books, but helpful to reset your mind and think outside the box.
Could you tell us about the biggest setback you have faced in your career? How did you respond to it?
I have worked in companies where the direction of the brand was not clear, understood or agreed upon by all those involved, so there were different messages filtering through. It is so important to work in a company where from top down the message and direction is clear and the big picture is visible to all. Overall, I do consider myself to have been extremely lucky in my experiences but I am also very thankful to have a strong character that has always enabled me to fight hard for what I want but also given me strength to pick up and leave as soon as I understand that I have reached a point of no return and lost “that loving feeling”. The key is to know your limits and strengths. I get restless rather easily, so I’ve had to learn to take interest and invest my time in things that go beyond my role. This has enabled me to find a role that is more diverse and never boring. If you don’t push yourself you will never progress.
What is the most solid, specific piece of advice you have for anyone wishing to work in fashion?
Choose your moments wisely. Questions and feedback can be received in very different ways depending on circumstances and moods. Don’t throw away chances on wrong moments but do try and speak your mind when you get given the opportunity, whether it’s positive or negative. Our role in sales is to make sure that we are steering our clients to the right product and assortment and that the growth is healthy and in the right direction. Be humble and don’t over complement yourself on increasing sales; be very mindful that most of the time it’s down to supply and demand. Remember that you have never truly made a sale until it sells out of a store. You need to trace it round the whole cycle. Always be mindful of how your department’s actions affect other departments. Beware of people’s time as it’s the most precious resource we have, and so little of it.
Could you please tell us about your business priorities in the next six months? What are your plans?
Growing the business further with a focus on western Europe and Asia. Building our new footwear business, a category which Erdem has recently brought in-house. Continue to strengthen brand awareness through product trainings in regions where the brand is still relatively new.
What kind of opportunities do you see for Erdem at the moment?
The possibilities are endless because talent is limitless. The company, though now ten years old, is still at the beginning of its journey. Erdem's first retail store opened recently in Mayfair and has provided a home for the creative director's vision. I look forward to working on translating and adapting this new environment with our key wholesale accounts in the future.
Who would you like to recommend next for My Work?
Louise Du Toit, Gino Da Prato, Cassie Wilkinson.