Movers & Shakers Q&A with Sarah Curran of My-wardrobe

Brought to you by and K3 Retail.
Sarah Curran, co-founder of my-wardrobe
1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business?

We see a huge opportunity for my-wardrobe to be a global brand. We have been working on the international expansion of the business over the last three months in two key markets, Australia and the Middle East, where we have already seen significant growth. We have seen Middle East sales for the first six months of 2011 grow by 114 per cent.
2. What is the biggest challenge to your business?

The biggest challenge for the business is actually the growth itself. When I launched my-wardrobe one of the key elements of the business was the customer experience. I wanted to create an exceptional luxury retail experience with almost a sense of a friend-to-friend feel to the brand. I never wanted the my-wardrobe shopper to feel intimidated or feel like they were calling through to a call centre to ask a question about product or a return. Now for me it’s about retaining that personal touch and experience as the business grows over the next five to 10 years.

3. With the benefit of hindsight what would you have done differently so far?

I would have invested more in marketing. As a small business, we didn’t have the funds to invest heavily in every area, so we made the decision to invest in PR as the primary marketing channel. We believed that we needed to build awareness of the brand, while instilling trust not only in the customer but among the designer brands that we carried and wanted to attract.

4. What is the future of the physical store?

Physical stores will always be a key part of the shopping experience whether its apparel, lifestyle or food. It is part of our culture be it after work or at the weekend. Physical stores will continue to integrate their platforms, so you will be able to buy online and pick up in store and vice versa.

5. What will the high street look like in a decade?

I imagine the key players will have integrated a digital experience into their physical store and the in-store experience will have improved dramatically to create more of a unique visit and experience for the consumer. As more and more shoppers turn to online and their expectations increase, the physical stores will need to pull out all the stops to entice their customers onto the high street.

6. Will mobile devices be the primary sales channel in the future?

We are already seeing a huge increase in traffic and sales numbers from mobile devices. Interestingly when you look at the dwell time, journey and purchase behaviour on a mobile device, versus a tablet, laptop or computer it’s very different. Mobile devices are going to become a key channel, but it will form one of many used by the consumer as part of their retail experience.

7. What other retail business do you admire?

I have always admired The White Company and Space NK. Both businesses have been founded by inspirational women, who created such strong brands with clear identities both on and offline. The experience in their stores and online is exceptional.

8. What marks out of 10 do you give yourself so far for achievement?

I would probably give myself a 7, as I’m terribly critical of myself and am always striving for the next thing, whether it’s a new innovation, a new designer collection or category to bring on board, or new campaign to launch. We have acheived a huge amount, but I still have huge expectations for the business over the next five years.

I’m incredibly proud of what the team has achieved, so very proud and even when we moved into the new warehouse last month I had to pinch myself to realise what we have achieved in five and a half years.

9. Who would you place in the Top 30 Multi-channel/e-commerce Movers & Shakers?

Nick Robertson, ASOS – As one of the original pioneers of fashion etail, Nick has always inspired me with his dedication to innovation and multi-channel developments. He understands his customer perfectly and every launch is perfectly pitched and executed.

10. If you hadn’t been a retailer what would you have liked to do?

I always said that if I didn’t have my-wardrobe I would have opened a boutique florist. I love flowers and to be surrounded by beautiful flowers everyday would be wonderful. Creating bouquets or displays for weddings and special occasions to make people happy must be an extremely satisfying job.