This month marks the 20th anniversary of the Parisian concept store Colette. Quite an achievement if you know that a lot of boutiques are struggling to keep their heads above water. What is the secret behind the success story of mother and daughter?
The American magazine GQ once described Colette as ‘Europe’s it store for design, art, culture and fashion.’ Today Colette employs 110 people in the rue Saint Honoré 213 and they ended the year with a significant turnover of 28 million euros. Yet, there was no marketing plan when it all started.
Colette Roussaux was a single mom when she sold her fashion store in the Sentier neighborhood in 1997, to start a new venture with her daughter Sarah Andelman. They moved to an apartment in an unknown area of Paris, and bought the empty retail unit on the ground floor of which they couldn’t stop talking about each time they were passing by. Everything went very spontaneous.
However, one thing is for sure: cult store Colette was a pioneer at the time, and up till today a trendsetter in the business. Colette runs the business, from the window displays to the bookkeeping, while Sarah travels the world hunting for new collections. But what exactly turns the concept into such a success?
‘I think what makes the difference is that we don’t need to ask anyone else about what we want to do.’ – Colette Roussaux
Yin and Yang
Or as Karl Lagerfeld once said: ‘‘There’s no such thing as one without the other’. It’s the symbiotic relationship between mother and daughter that does it. Both are each other’s yin and yang.
Well considered name choice
‘We chose Colette because it was offbeat and old-fashioned compared to what we wanted to do, which was modern,’ explains Sarah the name choice.
Being a curious nose
Curiosity is an essential character trait. With both women nothing is calculated, it’s all about instinct.
Anselman never takes things just because she thinks it’s going to sell well. There has to be a certain logic. It has to be different, something unto itself that’s of high quality and never seen before. It has to have integrity and be new.
She works hard for the money
On Sundays, on closing day, Colette and the stylist refresh the window display, and give the mannequins a total new look. The store opens at 11.00 am but Colette is already working a couple of hours, preparing the briefing of the personnel and doing the housekeeping.
Not just a shop
Colette isn’t just a concept store it is a meeting point where friends meet for lunch in the Water Bar. Or to go and see the latest exhibition in the art gallery. With the music of Collette on the background. (Colette has already brought out 18 CDs)
‘I think what makes the difference is that we don’t need to ask anyone else about what we want to do. If we want to paint the place green or blue, we talk about it for two minutes, and we do it, ’ so says Colette.
They close co-branding partnerships with well-known brands and artists. For the UEFA European championship Colette had her exclusive ‘Colette Coca-Cola’ bottle. But they also support national and international artists like Pharrell Williams and Drake.
Source: the New York Times