At Seladex, we’re focused on helping apparel and accessory showrooms succeed by helping them stay organized, better manage their showrooms and increase sales through the use of our Apparel Showroom CRM (Customer Relationship Manager).
However, we go beyond the use of technology as a means to help entrepreneurs in the fashion industry grow. We’re big believers in education, so from time to time we bring in fashion experts from around the world to help educate you, our blog readers, about the various ways you can grow your fashion empire.
Today, Seladex had the opportunity to speak with Ana Saro about the story behind her Paris based showroom Anatomy.
We have an exciting interview planned for you today, so without further ado, let’s jump in!
Hello and thank you for taking the time to chat with our blog readers today about your experience growing Anatomy. Let's have you kick off the interview by telling us a little bit more about Anatomy's history. How and why did you get started?
After working for years for other companies such as Ittierre and Cacharel as Commercial Director and being let go by Cacharel, I decided to make the most of my settlement and unemployment benefits to set up on my own. This was in 2001. I started with a Cashmere brand called Gkay, a denim brand from LA called Yanuk and an Italian brand called Nude that I still sell to this day.
You're located out of Paris. The fashion scene there is incredibly competitive. How did you manage to carve out a space for your showroom within this niche? What was your approach to differentiating your showroom from others out there?
When I began there were fewer showrooms in Paris and also showrooms from abroad didn't come here to show their collections with temporary showrooms. I also had an excellent client base having sold brands like Versace, Dolce & Gabbana etc. There was the phenomenon of brands from LA that everyone wanted at the time. I differentiated my showroom from others by creating a stress free casual environment where clients could feel comfortable with no pressure from brands. Most brands think they are king, but for me the client is king. I want my clients to buy well because they have been well advised by me and have excellent sell-through, not because I'm imposing quantities on them.
I know this will result in a bit of a generalization, but what do you see as some of the biggest differences between showrooms operating out of France vs the US?
I don't know the U.S. market very well but what I do know is that a lot of them make brands pay monthly fees to be able to be present in their showrooms. Over here we pay our own rent and expenses.
Can you tell us more about some of the early roadblocks you faced and how you overcame them? How difficult was it to get your showroom off the ground?
The only roadblock was finding good brands that weren't already taken by other show rooms. As I mentioned before I was lucky in that all Brands from LA were really in demand and I had a few good contacts there
How long did it take you before you felt like you "made it". Was there ever a point where you felt like Anatomy was past its infancy and had a certain amount of stability to support it? Or does it always feel like you're living on the edge in the showroom space?
It always feels like you are on the edge. Our business depends on so many factors; The collections being good, the economic situation being stable, your brands being faithful to you, clients being open minded for new unknown brands.......
Can you tell us a little bit more about your approach to onboarding brands? What does this process look like at Anatomy?
We are approached by brands looking for representation every day. Occasionally we will find one this way. Word of mouth from Italian brands. The fact that I am half Italian and speak the language is very helpful. Then we also go to trade shows and hunt for brands. The process is pretty simple. You approach them and try to convince them to work with you and if that works you agree on terms and sign a contract
Obviously, a big part of your job is to connect the brands you represent with buyers. In your experience, what have been the most challenging parts of this process?
Getting that appointment!!! Once they come we're good
We've already talked a little bit about how you make connections with brands, but now let's switch gears and talk a little bit more about how you build relationships with buyers. Can you tell us more about what that process looks like at Anatomy?
Creating relationships with buyers takes a long time. They have to trust you and feel that you're there for them throughout the year, not to just take orders. We have very little time each season to get to know them as they come to Paris for 3/4 days and have so many appointments each day. So we visit them, we call them, we take them to dinner and this gives us more time to really get to know them. They also like the fact that I was in retail before and understand their daily problems.
If you could go back in time and talk to a younger version of yourself about what it takes to run a successful showroom, knowing what you know now, what three pieces of advice would you give yourself?
- Keep client relationships real. Email and instagram isn't enough.
- Be careful who you trust.
- It's becoming very tough, think about it!
Thank you for taking the time to chat with Seladex blog readers today about your experience in the showroom space. It’s been inspiring learning about your history and ups and downs. To our readers, if you’d like to learn more about Anatomy you can head over to their website here.