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Emma Churchill

Product director, Kookaï

What does your job involve?

My role is varied and eclectic - no two days are the same. I’m heavily involved in the whole creation process, from input on product development for the UK market and selecting and buying the range from Paris for our stores and concessions in the UK and Republic of Ireland, including those in John Lewis, House of Fraser, Selfridges and indies like department stores De Gruchy and Arnotts, to working closely with our PR agency. Our recent online launch has meant a more varied approach to the buy. You can take more calculated risks, as you don’t have to take into account how the stock will be merchandised in store and customers are really receptive to the higher price-point pieces. I also oversee the wholesale accounts.

What skills do you need?

An in-depth knowledge of the market and trends is vital, but gut instinct is important too.

Organisational skills and multi-tasking are key to any managerial role and speaking fluent French is a bonus. Retaining a sense of humour when things get tough and good communication skills are key.

What do you like and dislike about your job?

I love the excitement of selecting the product for the new season and knowing the customer loves it too. My work has offered me so many opportunities it would be churlish to complain but getting up super-early to take the Eurostar is not very glamorous.

How did you get to where you are today?

Through that age-old combination of hard work and determination, with an element of luck. Having people who believe in you and a vision of what you really want are important. I was lucky at my degree show at Kingston University, when the head of design from Sonia Rykiel was in theaudience and I was offered a role as stylist assistant in Paris straight from Kingston - a fantastic first job experience. Various other design and managerial roles at companies from Paul Costelloe to the UK high street have provided the perfect mixed background for my current role.

What is your proudest career achievement to date?

Helping to reposition the Kookaï brand within the UK. It’s been a real challenge to alter both the customers’ and the press’s perspective of what Kookaï is all about.

What is your ambition?

To carry on working until I’m 90. I like to be stimulated and feel you should be continually learning.

How do you intend to get there?

Aside from Pilates and a healthy diet, through keeping an open mind, enthusiasm and meeting any challenges head-on. You can always learn from both your successes and your failures.

What three words sum you up?

Passionate, creative, cerebral.

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

Over and above the obvious hard work, drive and determination, a real passion for what you do is essential. Having a vision and going for what you want - even if others might not think it’s the right thing - is important.

Creative flair and commercial ability are also key. Finally, treat people with respect and politeness.

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