Monday, 8 April 2013

Interview: Avenue 32 Part II: Erin Mullaney

In the second part of my interview series with the Avenue 32 girls, I caught up ex-buyer for Browns and Harrods Erin Mullaney to discuss fashion fads and her current Avenue 32 edit.

Where are you and what are you doing right now? We are in the office checking out NY fashion week on as we missed going due to Snowstorm Nemo! It feels very strange not to be there but at the same time, I think we avoided a disaster and it will be so nice to go into London fashion week rested and not jetlagged and straight off a plane!

Tell us about your past jobs. What lead you to your current position? I have been a buyer for about 10 years now – I started my buying career at Harrods working for Mohamed Al Fayed and then moved to Selfridges when the Weston family took it over, which was an exciting time. I then went on to become the Buying Director of Browns, one of the most iconic boutiques in the world, where I had the great pleasure of working with and learning from the inimitable owner Mrs Burstein. She taught me how to edit and that every single piece must be special. She also taught me never to be lazy – she always has time for new designers and tirelessly seeks out new and exciting product for her customers – this is something I have always been passionate about as well.

What do you look for in the designers you showcase?
First and foremost, we have to be excited about the product. If Roberta and I love the product and want to wear it right now, then chances are that designer is going to be a winner. We also look for practical things such as price point, quality is super important and design – is it new and innovative? Is this designer doing something different to all the others? What is their USP (unique selling point)? Who is their customer – does she really exist and where is she going in these designs!? Some designers design for ‘conceptual’ women that don’t really exist…

Who is the Avenue 32 girl? I think we are all the Avenue girl – we always try to think about us and our friends and what they are looking to wear to certain events or to work, etc. Although we try to introduce and support emerging designers on Avenue32, we also want to make sure we are catering to our customer – who is not always a high fashion customer. She has a great career and may spend her disposable income on herself so shopping with us is a ‘treat’, she travels and she is quite independent – she comes to Avenue32 to discover something new, something different that none of her friends will have.

Does your personal style influence what you buy for the shop? Yes and no – I have been a buyer long enough to know that you aren’t buying for yourself 99% of the time. You have to put your customer first.
I think Roberta is our customer though – as is her sister and her mother, so in that way, I do always listen to her opinion but there is also an element of ‘will this sell’ and ‘is this the Avenue woman’?

What is your one piece of fashion or beauty advice? My fashion advice would be: Be true to yourself and don’t follow trends or fads too closely, especially as you get older. I have a uniform when I am not in fashion week and I stick to it pretty closely as I know what works for me now. Beauty advice: look after your skin – sleep, hydrate with water and don’t go in the sun! it will come back to haunt you in your mid 30s…

What does the typical work day look like for you? I love the fact that we don’t have a ‘typical’ day – every day is different. We travel a lot as well for work (4 times a year for market) which helps to break up stints in the office as I always get a bit restless being in an office for long periods of time. Roberta and I have a lot of meetings with our different teams each day – for me, it’s catching up with my buying team, approving and finalizing orders, working on trends, making sure our sales and e-commerce team know what deliveries are coming in, making sure our home page and other communication reflect what’s new, meeting with the marketing team about events and working closely with our PR… every day is busy and totally different, which I love.

What are your 5 essentials?
A great pair of jeans (I am loving my Paige skinnies at the moment)
Perfect white t-shirt (I have about 10 at any one time but James Perse is my favourite)
Chunky knits (by my new favourite designer on Avenue – Cedric Charlier, APC, Acne and COS for high street knits is the best)
Coats/jackets – I am totally obsessed with coats and can’t stop buying them! Current favourites are my Celine grey wool mens coat with leather sleeves, my burberry pea coat in navy blue and my yves salomon army parks with fur hood
Celine bags & shoes – Roberta and I both have a slight addiction!

What are your top three pieces available in the shop right now? FRENDS headphones – the rose gold taylor is our best seller at the moment and everyone in the office is obsessed with them. Cedric Charlier – everything and anything! This new designer is super-hot (he used to be at cacharel and lanvin before starting his own label last year) and his prices are unbeatable – snap up a piece from his pre spring now. Hussein Chalayan’s pre spring collection was to die for – I love this jacket with flouro trim. I can’t wait for our new designer Michaela Buerger’s beautifully handmade crochet t-shirts and collars… coming soon to Avenue32. Get on the waitlist now. Summers must-have.

Any beauty rituals? I am religious about taking my makeup off at the end of the day – especially my mascara. I can’t sleep otherwise. And I have an AMAZING facialist (Roberta and I both go to her actually) called Jacqueline Parker at the SOMA centre (tel: 0207 000 1903) who sorts my skin out once a month with a glycolic peel and Oxygen facial. She has taught me so much about my skin and gives great advice. And my dear friend and incredible hairstylist Bianca Tuovi (with CLM) does my hair colour - I couldn’t live without her!

Describe your perfect day. My perfect day would be a lazy Saturday wandering around Portobello market with my boyfriend, followed by a pub lunch/roast with our friends. I love simple days with no alarms and no plans the most.

What’s coming up next?
We are introducing some very exciting new brands to Avenue32 in the next 6 months so watch this space… we will also be doing a lot more offline events and marketing in 2013, including a possible pop up shop.

For more of Erin's work, visit her website.

1 comment:

  1. Very informative. I learned a lot about the business. I love her beauty and fashion advice. It's very grounded.

    Kate from Clear the Way