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How I got here: Ally Capellino's Hannah Collins on living her brand

Getting involved in every aspect of the brand is what gets the retail manager at British accessories label Ally Capellino excited.

Hannah Collins Ally Capellino

Hannah Collins

Hannah Collins, retail manager at Ally Capellino

Normally I wake up and check the email notifications I get showing our overnight website sales, which flood in from all the different time zones. It’s exciting to see which products are selling well. Then I get ready quickly and make my way to our studio in Shoreditch, grabbing a strong black coffee on the way. 

I try to have a plan of things I want to accomplish each week, which is important as my role is really diverse and touches lots of different parts of the business.

I buy for our three London stores, in Shoreditch, Portobello Road in Notting Hill and Marylebone, based on the customer needs for each individual store. These decisions are based on previous customer expenditure and purchase behaviour. Each store has its own demographic, which reflects the area where they are situated, so this informs the buy and the proportion of the differing ranges each store needs. As I’m buying from our own collection, I only buy on a broad scale once a season. However, I sometimes bring in specials or collaborations, such as our latest collaboration for spring 15 on a picnic tote with food magazine The Gourmand

Staff training is another part of my role, showing new recruits how to  work in the store, from till systems to learning how to relate to the customer. When I recruit store assistants I’m looking for someone who can really understand the customer and epitomise the brand lifestyle. We want to build a real community with our customers. 

I also get to use my artistic skills in developing packaging for our shopping bags and the boxes our bags arrive in when you order online. I work closely with the designer and founder, Ally Capellino, on her concept, thinking also about the practicality of the design.

I try to visit our three London stores at least twice a week, catching up with the store teams and chatting to customers. It’s really important to witness the stores operating in action and get customer feedback to see what they would change or improve.

Ally Capellino

Ally Capellino

Ally Capellino autumn 15 collection

Each of our stores has its own individual character, which comes from the area and the teams that work there. While I don’t have a favourite, it was great to work closely on the opening of our Marylebone store in May. I was involved in discussions on the different locations under consideration and potential properties, as well as working closely with the designer on the visual merchandising. The merchandise and design is always tailored to fit the character of the location. I’m proud every time I go inside.

What I enjoy the most is dealing creatively with the challenges that crop up. For example, whereas in the past our staff would float across different stores, I decided that to create a community feeling they should be based at one store only. I also analyse what stock is selling well and where, which informs our visual merchandising in store as, for example, we might want to put a product in the window to give it more attention.

I’ve known about Ally Capellino since I moved to London six years ago and I’ve always felt like the brand would be a good fit for me. It’s the boyish, understated and slightly punk attitude that attracted me. I didn’t want to work for a brand with too much gloss, like so many of the traditional luxury retailers.

Probably the biggest lesson I have learned is about trusting myself and my intuition. That doesn’t mean not listening to others, but rather taking all opinions on board and having the conviction to take the decision you believe will be best for the business and the team you manage. My expectations of myself and the team are always growing.

The last thing I do after a busy day is listen to Radio 4 as a way to wind down before I go to sleep. I especially love the lyrical and poetic sound of the shipping forecast.

Plan B

I would say my current career choice has been influenced by my background in fine art, so if I wasn’t involved in the fashion industry I would probably pursue a career as an artist working on installations. 

CV

Education

September 2009-July 2012 BA (Hons) Fine Art at Chelsea College of Arts, London

September 2008-June 2009 BA (Hons) Fine Art, Year 1 at Sheffield Hallam University

September 2007-June 2008 BTEC Foundation Art & Design, North West Regional College (Limavady Campus), Derry

 

Career

August 2014-present Retail manager, Ally Capellino, London

March 2014-August 2014 Store manager, Ally Capellino, London

August 2013-March 2014 Assistant manager, Pringle of Scotland, London

April 2013-August 2013 Sales assistant, Pringle of Scotland Outlet, Hackney, London

January 2011-March 2013 Sales assistant, Paul Smith, Notting Hill, London 

August 2010-December 2010 Sales assistant, Whistles, King’s Road, London

June 2010-June 2010 Temporary sales assistant, Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge, London

May 2009-September 2009 Sales assistant, The White House, Portrush, County Antrim

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