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Sarah Coppin

Director for business development, Pineapple

What does your job involve?

I seek and implement opportunities to grow [dance-influenced leisurewear] brand Pineapple.

Our womenswear and girlswear is available through a Designers at Debenhams licence. I’m involved with the planning of these ranges.

We have several UK licence partners who develop brand products that are outside our core clothing category. I give the licensees seasonal direction in line with our own forthcoming ranges and approve product ranges. I work with the licensee to strategise and maximise sales opportunities for the brand. Part of my role is managing the wholesale business with Shop Direct/Littlewoods.

What skills do you need?

You need to have a passion for the brand, dance and fashion. During my time at Pineapple, where I’ve been working in a small team, I’ve morphed from a designer, to a manager, to now looking for and taking opportunities to grow the business. In order to achieve this sort of progression the key attributes required are flexibility and a love of networking.

What do you like and dislike about your job?

I like the diversity. I can be range planning in the morning and then wading through legal contracts in the afternoon. Having my office in Pineapple Dance Studios also gives me the privilege of being able to watch world-class dancers on a daily basis. The worst thing is dealing with the minefield of trademark registrations.

How did you get to where you are today?

From a commercial high street design background, I came into a brand with a small team. This means all the aspects of the business are visible: strategic, product, production, retail, marketing and more. My understanding of the brand makes me want to realise all of its potential.

What is your proudest career achievement to date?

I’m proud of launching the Pineapple brand in department store group Edgars in South Africa last month, and of being at Debenhams for more than 10 years. In the 1980s I had my own label, and Harvey Nichols sought us out and bought the range, which was a great personal achievement.

What is your ambition?

I’d love to get Pineapple out to more international destinations, because dance is such a global phenomenon at the moment. I really want to take advantage of this trend.

How do you intend to get there?

The Pineapple Dance Studios TV show has been aired in several international territories, so I’m following up where there is existing brand awareness. So that means hard work.

What three words sum you up?

Creative, tenacious, level-headed.

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

Take every opportunity you can for experience; network and collect contacts. Make sure you record any experience you get because it will all add up on your CV. You need to have a passion for the fashion industry, but don’t go into it for money and glamour. That said, it’s great to be in the creative world and very exciting the first time you see one of your designs walking down the street. 

CV

2007  Director for business development, Pineapple

2000  Fashion director, Pineapple

1997  Designer, Pineapple

1985  Designer, womenswear, various Marks & Spencer suppliers

1979  Manager and designer, editorial offers, IPC Magazines

1978 Fashion graduate, Central Saint Martins College                

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