Fashion manager finds a good business model
Jessi Chen’s love of fashion saw her move back to Hong Kong from Australia to take up a job offer from District, a distributor of lifestyle products. Now the company’s senior sales and marketing manager, she tells Wong Yat-hei about how she has helped District go from little-known distributor to fashion trendsetter in Hong Kong in just two years.
What is your academic background?
I completed my studies in business advertising and business marketing in Melbourne, Australia.
How do you start your day?
My mornings usually consist of a lot of emails and various types of correspondence to make sure clients are happy and things are on schedule. In the afternoon we usually have visitors going in and out of the showroom, including buyers, fashion bloggers and members of the press who come to view our brands’ latest collections.
What does your job entail?
As I’m in sales and marketing, my role involves public relations and brand management. I speak to many different retailers on a daily basis, from trendy little boutiques to fashion chain stores to premium department stores. I also communicate with the international brands that we distribute, which come from places such as Canada, the US, France and Italy. For the marketing side, I do a lot of planning and coordinating. I schedule our marketing initiatives and speak to the press. I also organise special events for the company.
What are the major challenges you have encountered so far?
When I first joined District, we were a brand-new start-up in fashion and lifestyle distribution. We had a very small team which created a lot of challenges and gave us a steep learning curve. But it also provided the perfect environment to absorb everything there is to know. It challenged us as a team to create new processes, research the competition and discover new accounts. Because you’re starting from the ground, you end up developing the best all-round practices.
Two years later we are a very close-knit team and our working relationships have become friendships which go far beyond the workplace. We’re now distributors of a portfolio of more than 16 international lifestyle and fashion brands. Our brand mix focuses mainly on lifestyle and accessories, such as footwear, bags, accessories, home fragrance and gadgets. All of our brands have strong roots, with a very clear understanding of who they are, where they come from and, most importantly, where they are going. This is something we always work to uphold when we build our brands here in Hong Kong.
What are your plans?
I’d like to stay in the fashion industry. Being a girl, it’s typically something I’ve always had an interest in, and something that I’m innately drawn to. It’s still early days for District – we’re been around for two years now and I’m excited to see where things head. We are expecting to take on more new and exciting brands so we’ll see where things go. I want to learn and grow as much as possible, and hopefully start my own business further down the road.
What advice can you give those interested in your industry?
Keep an open mind and always be willing to go above and beyond your job description.