Interview with Malika Benshila Hutin

PINK HEATER – THE MONA BISMARCK EVENT

September 27th to October 5th, 2016  / Interview with Malika Benshila Hutin

WHAT IS THE MARKET LOOKING FOR TODAY ?

There is a big demand in the market for high quality, service-oriented promotion and selling of brands. Designers come to me saying they find it difficult selling their lines and having to do self-promotion, which makes them uncomfortable. And buyers would rather not be in direct contact with designers but prefer dealing with us since we have the know-how to facilitate procedures and transactions.

WHY DO A TEMPORARY SHOWROOM ?

Since the pick of the business is done during fashion week in Paris, a few years ago I decided to create a temporary off-site showroom specifically for fashion week because there was a demand from designers who wanted to integrate the agency especially at that time. I thought a 2 in 1 concept would work perfectly; I could showcase my current collections from the Pink Heater showroom and also include new designers to present to the buyers as they are always on the lookout for trendy new brands, and I generally select designers that buyers will be interested in – style and price point wise.

Many temporary showrooms open in Paris during fashion week so the idea is to work in that sense and get a maximum of business and visibility for each and every designer during that period.

WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN THE BRANDS YOU SELECT ?

First of all, I look for designers that have a fresh, innovative and experimental approach along with mastery of craftsmanship and good choice of materials. It is very important, however, that the designers are at a point in their development where they are ready to commercialize their products on a professional level. Some brands have great designs but their in-house marketing tools, their imagery or production isn’t aligned with the B to B business. I take an in-depth look at the brand and, using key point analysis, can determine if they are ready and suitable for the stores I work with.

HOW DOES THE EVENT WORK ?

Basically, the Agency and staff moves off-site for the event. The new platform will be a spacious venue that allows us to showcase the Agency’s current designer collections alongside the new designer collections.

Buyers and other professionals particularly enjoy having the opportunity to study all the collections in a relaxed, attractive setting where we can guide them with personalized attention. For me, it is key that they feel comfortable and enjoy the buying time as it is, in general, a very rushed period for them.

WILL THERE BE ANOTHER EDITION OF THE EVENT ?

Absolutely. There will be two editions each year during the fashion weeks in Paris. This allows for continuity in the development and buyers are confident of finding the next collections and have a point of contact with the agency.

HOW DOES THE RELATIONSHIP DIFFER BETWEEN DESIGNERS REPRESENTED IN THE PINK HEATER SHOWROOM AND THE DESIGNERS SIGN UP ONLY FOR THE POP-UP SHOWROOM ?

The Pink Heater Agency operates on an all year round basis. For the designers represented by the Agency and whose collections we keep in the showroom, we do the promotion of the brands through the media on a continual basis and we ensure the follow-up on all orders.

For the new brands who sign up for the temporary agency, we have specific terms of contract so that the designers understand where our job begins and stops. Their brands will be included in any promotional activity in the run up to the pop up showroom event and their collections will be presented to the buyers and other professionals who visit us. We will take the orders and then forward them to the new designers to process them. The sales promotion, however, stops at the closure date of the presentation.

WHAT IS THE TURNOVER LIKE ? 

For our permanent brands we have a history of their turnover so we can estimate what it will be as we have a basis for comparison and can quantify, so it is relatively easy to have visibility or predict what sales will be like.

For the new designers that have signed on for the temporary show, it’s important to know the brand’s history: where it is in the market, what type of numbers have they already generated and so on. There is a need for transparency in the communication so everything is clear and expectations are realistic.

We can have some good surprises as we are always in contact with prospects and specific stores that the brands can be introduced to. We generally concentrate on stores we know, usually big department stores, so it’s a matter of reaching out to the right person and doing a good promotion of our brand selection. This is the core of our job and for the past 8 years we have concentrated on nurturing these relationships and making new ones.

WHAT CAN THE DESIGNERS EXPECT FROM THESE TEMPORARY PRESENTATIONS ? 

In the lead up to the event, the approach in terms of marketing and promotion will be exactly the same for all the designers concerned. We will promote the brands before the event and target the stores we think could be a good fit.

Ideally, if we manage to open accounts for them with prestige department stores like Harvey Nichols, Bloomingdales or some great concept stores in France or elsewhere in the world, they can count that as a success.

It can happen, however, when presenting a new brand for the first time to the market and to professionals that we don’t succeed in opening an account. But if we manage to get concrete feedback from the buyers, this can be precious information that will help the designers work on the collection. Also, just being there again, the following season, as I mentioned earlier – continuity and proximity, is important.

Don’t forget, selling is all about building relationships, but it doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time, consistency and passion!

Pink Heater