The founder of sales agency The Brand Ambassadors, and former Drapers and Pure commercial director, on the fun and frolics of the fashion industry
Having worked for both Drapers and trade show Pure as commercial director for 15 years, Lucy Walsh has launched her sales agency The Brand Ambassadors for spring 16. She tells Drapers about why she decided to take the next step in her fashion career, as well as some of the highlights of her time in the industry.
You are launching your own sales agency for spring 16 – tell us about it?
I’ve been obsessed with women’s fashion from an early age. I was lucky enough to land a job on Drapers straight out of university and after a decade there went to womenswear trade show Pure for the last five years. My role changed when I returned from maternity leave with my second child. Feeling a little unfulfilled, I looked to fill the void. Thinking about my love of fashion, contacts in the industry and eye for spotting the latest brands, my friend Jules from Middleton Green suggested I do what she does and become an agent. It seemed like the perfect match and something I knew I would love; I get to spend all day talking about clothes to people who are equally obsessed with fashion.
Tell us briefly about the brands you are selling.
I am launching with three incredible brands, Danish clothing and accessories label Black Lily, another Danish trouser and jeans focused brand Mos Mosh and Parisian label Toupy. I will be launching all three at womenswear trade show Scoop on August 2-4.
What do you look for in perspective brands?
From my time at Drapers and Pure, I know just how important it is for brands to invest in marketing. Good quality look books with inspiring photoshoots are worth their weight in gold. They can make or break the brand. I would also emphasize how imperative it is for a brand to exhibit at a London exhibition; it’s essential to have that platform to be able to showcase the brand.
What sets your agency apart?
There are so many great agencies out there that I would like to emulate, Middleton Green, Macandi, Palladio, FOS and BLD set the standards. I also bake cupcakes and give them to the retailers with the look books and ask them to take five minutes to flick through the catalogues. If they like anything, they’ll give me a call and book in a meeting – with more cupcakes. I’m basically bribing them with a sugar fix.
You have lots of experience in the industry – what have these experiences taught you?
Be kind to people. I always said I was a sales person with a conscience and I would only want to sell something if I really thought it was right for the customer.
What are some of your highlights from your time working at Drapers and Pure?
Getting to go to some great fashion shows at London Fashion Week is a definite highlight. Prince doing an impromptu performance at the Matthew Williamson show in 2007 has got to be one of my favourite moments of all time – I’m a huge fan.
You’ve also spent lots of times at trade shows – what in your opinion makes a good trade show?
Great brands, curated well and lots of the right buyers. Music is a must and I can’t believe how many shows don’t have any. And seating and decent affordable food – there is nothing worse than having to sit on the floor eating an expensive soggy sandwich.
Tell us some stories from your trade show travels.
One of the funniest things that has ever happened was when a colleague of mine dropped an entire tray of Champagne and Bucks Fizz over a buyer who was wearing a white linen suit. I still giggle about it, that poor buyer!
Terry de Havilland wedding shoes
What’s the most treasured item in your wardrobe.
I can’t live without my Terry de Havilland wedges. I have them in every colour, they are so comfortable. My most treasured pair are the ones Terry and I designed together for my wedding. I told him I wanted some ‘wow’ heels the colour of Cadbury Dairy milk but couldn’t find any. He suggested he make them.
What would we find you doing at the weekend?
Hanging out with my husband and two sons, Caleb who’s three and Sonny, 16 months, during the day. Going for a run and then relaxing in the evening with my friends and a glass of Prosecco or cocktails and a boogie. There is a big group of us that met at Leeds uni 16 years ago and we all moved back to London. It’s so nice, now our kids are friends too.
If you weren’t working in fashion, what would you be doing?
I love organising a party so I think I would have gone into event coordinating. I could bake the cupcakes for the party too. No kids’ parties though – I couldn’t handle the noise or the mess.
How would your clients and colleagues describe you in three words?
Maybe genuine, personable, driven. Scrap that – it would probably be ‘bakes delicious cakes’.
How would your best friends describe you in three words?
Life and soul.