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How I got here - Helen North

Home shopping womenswear retailer Kaleidoscope’s head of marketing on her rise through the ranks.

What does your diary look like today?

Our autumn 13 press day is coming up, so this morning we’re preparing a selection of our fashion and homeware products to be presented to the media. The last few seasons have seen a real development in our product offer and we’re excited to be able to share this with the press and let them see first-hand how the brand is evolving. This afternoon we have our trading meeting to look over last week’s trading performance, analyse our results and the marketing activity. Following this I have a heads of departments meeting with creative, ecommerce and buying and merchandising to discuss next season’s plans.

What task are you most looking forward to today?

The trading meeting, as it always gives a true picture of the work my team and I have been doing. It gives us the opportunity to look at how the business is performing, see the product that is selling well and where our new customer recruitment is coming from. I’m always interested to see what activity and channel is working best to drive new customers, retain our existing ones and what products they are buying, as this affects our overall marketing strategy.

What task do you wish you could postpone?

I’m working with our creative and design department to sign off the catalogue pages for our winter collection. Although
it’s exciting to see all the products together on the page, I’m a perfectionist and would always love more time to work on it.

How did you get to where you are today?

I started at the bottom in a junior role and worked hard for several companies and progressed through the ranks. Before joining Kaleidoscope, I worked mainly in advertising and marketing agencies on a number of well-known high street fashion and mail-order brands.

What has been your career highlight?

In my previous role [at Principles Communications] I was appointed to the board after a year with the company. That was a real highlight as it made me realise just how far I’d come.

Who is your mentor?

I don’t have a specific mentor, but I’ve been lucky to work with inspiring people from different sectors. If I were to pick someone from a retail perspective who inspires me, I’d say Mary Portas. I love her passion, drive and determination to bring about change on the high street.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

A brand isn’t always what a business or marketer thinks it is; a brand is what a consumer thinks it is.

How do you see your career progressing?

I’d hope to become more involved with the FGH group. At the moment I’m focused on Kaleidoscope, but as our parent company is a global business I’d like to think this could open up further opportunities.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

Gain as much exposure and experience as you can in the industry. I’ve not had a conventional route to get to where I am today but working across many fashion and mail-order brands has stood me in good stead.

  • Salaries for this position range from £60,000 to £70,000 (estimate provided by CVUK)


2013 Head of marketing, Kaleidoscope (Freemans Grattan Holdings)
2003 Account director and board director, Principles Communications
1994 Account director, PWN
1988 Account executive, Store House Group
1986 Distinction in Spatial Design, Leeds College of Art

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