Could you please tell us about your role and duties?
I am charged with planning and delivering the annual events portfolio of the British Fashion Council with events in London and across the globe, and to develop and deliver the BFC's strategic goals as part of the senior management team. These events include London Fashion Week, London Collections Men, the British Fashion Awards, and London Show Rooms abroad.
What is your typical day at the office like?
I arrive at my desk around 8:30am, where I catch up on emails and check in with the team. I usually spend my day meeting with suppliers in order to discuss creative ideas and layouts, as well as any challenges we are trying to solve—for example the lighting design in a new show space and collaborating with the authorities on how to best manage the traffic plan in Soho for London Fashion Week. The rest of the day is spent in meetings with all departments and my CEO and COO regarding the latest developments in our upcoming events. We also go to Paris four times a year with London Show Rooms, which is a platform that promotes emerging British designers outside the UK.
What do you enjoy most in your current position?
I love the variety it brings and the different people I get to meet every day. It's great to be part of an organisation that supports British talent at all levels and to see designers succeed and be celebrated for their work.
How do you measure the success of the events organised for BFC? What kind of tools are you using?
We look at the return on investment from a financial point of view, but also whether the events were successful in terms of coverage and if they supported the BFC’s overall vision.
Is there a fail-proof approach when it comes to fashion events? Is it all about great execution?
I wish there was. It’s about paying attention to every detail and saving the pennies. Surround yourself with great people and partners who support your vision and will help you deliver events to the highest standard.
Events play an important part in the marketing strategy of fashion brands. Who gets it right and where do companies usually go wrong?
A brand needs to set clear objectives about what they are trying to achieve with an event—is it about making headlines or giving people a lasting experience? Anya Hindmarch always makes a big impact on me with her shows which are so emotional and showcase her collection in an extraordinarily beautiful, technically challenging way.
You have said that budget is the biggest challenge when it comes to your work. What's your advice to new designers, where resources are limited?
Think about the best way to showcase your collection. Is the traditional and costly catwalk show right or would a creative presentation work better to reach and engage your audience?
What are your three biggest headaches at work right now?
Venues. Venues. And venues. Premium spaces in central London are in high demand while more and more are being taken over by property developers. With so many great and high profile events happening in London at the same time, it gets increasingly difficult to secure a long term home for our events.
When it comes to your everyday business life, what kinds of tools, applications, or services make your life easier?
I am lucky to have a fantastic team and production partners. It’s also really important to maintain a good network of contacts, so getting out and about and meeting key players in the industry is crucial. I have also learnt to make friends with Excel as a large part my job is balancing spreadsheets. Fun times.
What's on your daily reading list? Any great business books you'd like to recommend?
Business of Fashion, Cool Hunting, and Event Magazine for daily updates and currently anything to do with mindfulness and how to balance a busy job with a calm mind set—for example via the Headspace app.
Are you responsible for the hires in your team? If yes, what are the qualities that you are looking for? Is there a specific question that you ask candidates to see if they would be a good fit?
I look for individuals who are creative and can talk about their likes outside of work, such as going to festivals or travelling the world. In the events industry it is essential to think creatively and be inspired by your surroundings and the experiences you have. I like people with an opinion—whether we agree on something or not, it’s important to have a point of view. The question I always like to ask is about their favourite space in London. The answers can sometimes be surprising and tell you a lot about the candidate.
What kind of manager are you? Would you rather be liked or respected?
I think there is a way to achieve both. As a manager, I try to inspire the team by leading by example and by keeping the communication simple and open.
What was the biggest setback that you have faced in your career? How did you respond to it?
Going back to my early years in London, I had moved from hotel operations to a sales and marketing agency thinking that it was what I wanted to do. And then I turned out not to be good at selling—so they let me go. At the time I took it to heart and decided to move to the other side of the world and spend a year in Sydney trying to figure out what to do next. This turned out to be one of the best and most fun years of my life. The decision to come back to London kick-started my career in fashion events as I joined the production team at INCA. So my lesson learnt was that everything happens for a reason, and that it may take a little while to understand what the reason is. If I had never taken some time out in Australia, I may have chosen a very different path.
Could you please tell us about your business priorities and plans for the next six months?
Securing permissions for our upcoming large scale events as well as procuring new event spaces for the next two years.
What is the most solid, specific piece of advice you have for anyone wishing to work in fashion event management?
Be kind to everyone and make sure you make a lasting impression. And take your own notes.
Who would you like to recommend next for My Work?
Chris Ford, COO at OBO and Laura Davidson, Head of PR – International and Menswear at Marks & Spencer.