Stepping Up in Style

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-By Aleisha Parr

Two years ago, Victoria based shoe maven, Kerrie Munro and family, were approached by major footwear retailer Figgins Holdings to purchase its Midas brand. Two days later, Figgins had also passed over to the family its Mollini brand.

Mrs Munro is Director of what is now called Styling Services, and she explains, “It was done pretty quickly – overnight – because they were in such a hurry to sell. There were a number of stores that, due to their financial problems, we had been locked out of so we decided to wholesale the Mollini brand. I was already away in China so I said, ‘Okay, if we’re going to be locked out, I’ll wholesale it!’ We built a little range and started wholesaling and that’s how it all began.”

The company is now successfully wholesaling the Mollini brand out to nearly three hundred customers around Australia and NZ, with the ultimate intention of pursuing a simultaneous in-store brand experience as well as a broad marketplace presence through wholesaling. “That’s growing for us each season,” reports Mrs Munro, “and as we’ve gone along, because it was a new brand for our company, we’ve had to find new supply lines for that, so we’ve worked hard toward all of that and it is starting to really go very well.

“It all happened with no planning as we were thrown into it so quickly, so now we are putting a lot of effort into imaging and branding and we’ve just opened a new Look Store in Queen’s Plaza in Brisbane. We’ve certainly got some more in the pipeline that we’d like to open and update from the old image to our new image and branding.”

Mrs Munro is responsible for the product development for the entire wholesale range – across all six of Styling Services’ prestige brands. Thanks to her quirky eye and strict attention to quality and detail, the Mollini brand has maintained its sophisticated but stylish appeal whilst keeping current with today’s fun-loving clientele.

Greg Parmenter, the company’s Marketing Manager, adds, “We have some in-house designers and largely we have very good buyers like Kerrie who travel around the globe looking at trends and who are really passionate about their brands and know them inside and out. We have the advantage, of course, of seeing what comes out of Europe and then being able to implement that here. And so that really helps to not only know the latest trends and keep current but also to ensure that we’re sticking to the truth at the heart of our brand – continuing to speak to the woman who already has a relationship with Mollini.

“The culture here is that of a family,” adds Mr Parmenter. “Two thirds of the Head Office staff on any given day will sit down to lunch together with Kerrie and Graham Munro – they’re just amazing. They’ve really made me feel like part of the family, and this extends to all of our customers and clients that come in. They have a great knack for entertaining and it really feels like we’re all working toward the same goal and even though we’re not all actually family, it feels like we are.”

He is quick to assert that the company’s recent work is not so much a rebranding as it is a refocus of Mollini. “Mollini has always been a fast fashion brand that speaks to the savvy consumer. [The refocus] is really about how we communicate with her – with this customer – that communication is what is getting an overhaul.”

The team at Mollini has undertaken a rigorous process over the last six months internally of defining its key consumer and her desires, with the resulting definition:

“The Mollini girl is a trend setter. Our unique style is quite bold, and that really lends itself well to the young woman who makes a statement with the way she presents herself. The style is quite edgy, it’s high fashion; it does make a statement and projects an air of confidence when she wears Mollini shoes.”

“From this,” continues Mr Parmenter, “we developed a strategy and put together all the bits and pieces that we needed in order to carry out that strategy, and we’re just underway now in our execution.”

One of the key steps in this process has been the development of a new brand ID with a slightly modified logo – which the company is on the cusp of revealing. The relaunch campaign promoting this is still in the planning stages, but it is clear from the excitement in Mr Parmenter’s voice that it’s going to be big and it’s going to be good. “It’s really an exciting time for us, at least internally, as I see all of these wheels turning. We are about to do something big for Mollini. It has taken us two years to get to this point and we are now just about ready to reveal it to the world. And so I guess we just want to say we’re about to do something big, so stay tuned!”

“Altogether, it has been a massive year,” he concludes with pride. “We’ve opened the new flagship store over in Brisbane, we’ve taken Mollini wholesale and grown that to nearly three hundred accounts, and we’ve launched a successful e-commerce site and online sales are up three hundred per cent over the last year, which is incredible. But as I say, the really exciting stuff is just about to happen.

“Also in the pipeline, we have at least one other store in the next six months which again is going to be another step forward for us. The more that we get to flesh out this brand that we’ve worked so hard on over the last two years since we’ve bought it, the more exciting things get for us.”

With all of this progress, the road ahead will still be difficult to manoeuvre – especially in heels.

“It is pretty tough out there,” admits Mr Parmenter. “There’s sort of a feeling that the worst is behind us, but many of our customers and our competitors are waiting for that to be reflected in sales growth. I guess to sum it up, there is a quiet confidence.

“We’re in a good position to react quickly to changes in the market and everyone here has a fairly broad skill set and I suppose that is an extension of the family philosophy. But it essentially is very handy in the fashion world to be able to move quickly as something becomes hot or, at the next moment it’s not, so being able to do that has always been very good for us.”

His sentiment is echoed by Kerrie Munro. “It will probably take us maybe two more years to get placed in the marketplace where we’d like to be,” she says. “At the minute business is so tough out there, but we’re certainly keen to keep pushing on with the brand and setting it right.

“We want to inspire the Mollini woman; we want to provide a brand that she can really sink her teeth into and be passionate about. And, we want her to engage with us in whatever way she chooses to and become loyal with the brand. If we do that, I think the growth will take care of itself.”

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

December 19, 2018, 5:33 PM AEDT