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Penny Grivea

Folli Follie’s brand general manager tells Lucie Goulet how she swapped cosmetics for a role at the accessories label she grew up with

Your background is in cosmetics and perfumery - what made you move into jewellery and accessories?

I started by chance in the cosmetics industry. I was given an administrator opportunity at Selfridges and worked my way up to become assistant buyer [for its perfumery and cosmetics department]. I then went to Harrods and became marketing and PR manager for cosmetics. Both industries are similar because the final aim is to make a woman feel good about herself. I was head-hunted for the Folli Follie role. They were looking for a Greek person with experience in jewellery and asked if I’d be interested.

I thought it would expand my experience, and I think the fashion, cosmetics and jewellery industries are all linked.

What attracted you to Folli Follie in particular?

I grew up with the brand. In Greece, everyone seems to own a Folli Follie watch and a bag.

Your job seems to incorporate a lot of functions - tell us more about what you do.

I give designers feedback as to what works in the UK market. We also take into account the presence of tourists. There are many new collections launching very regularly. As a fashion brand you need to have something new for the customers regularly. With a growing brand, you need to get involved in every aspect of the business. I don’t just come in and do one specific thing. I need to look at the overall business, have a bird’s eye view but also be able to lead from the front. I have an input in what collections are launched in the UK and Republic of Ireland markets, as well as input into visual merchandising, PR, marketing, new store set-ups and, of course, the profitability and performance of each store. It’s almost like a baby.

My aim is that in the next three years many more customers in the UK will not only know Folli Follie but also own a piece of jewellery, an accessory or bag by the brand.

What are the growth areas at Folli Follie and what can we expect to see in future from the brand?

When I started [last July], Folli Follie had five stores in the UK.

At Christmas there were 10. In terms of Europe, London has the biggest high street following so when you talk about fashion it’s where you need to be. By the end of the year, our aim is to have 18 concessions and standalone stores in the UK. We’re looking at key cities. We don’t want to expand too quickly so we want to make sure we’re at the right location when the time is right for the brand. We opened concessions in department store Brown Thomas in Dublin and Cork at the end of January and are in conversations with a few other high-end department stores. Department stores bring credibility. Last year we finished 47% up on the previous year, so the future is bright.

Quickfire questions

  • What’s your most cherished item of clothing? My Hermès scarves.
  • Which designers do you most admire? Christian Dior , Balenciaga, Lanvin and Mary Katrantzou.
  • Which is your favourite fashion store? Selfridges and Harvey Nichols.

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