Head of retail Gabrielle Roux at womenswear brand Sheike is passionate about shaping the next generation of leaders and truly connecting with customers. Here she shares her favourite retailers, the most valuable lessons she’s learnt in the industry and how to cultivate teams. Tell me about your role and what it involves. I look after a couple of different aspects of the business – retail, visual merchandising, the customer experience and journey and HR. I’m constantly looking at
ing at the opportunities for the team and the business to improve and grow. This role can be focused in a number of different ways, but for me, it’s about focusing on the people – staff and customers – and looking at how to empower, equip and engage them, how to make Sheike an incredible place to work and where our people can really grow their careers. From a customer perspective, it’s about looking at how we can better engage them, connect them to the brand and make sure they want to shop with us over someone else. It’s about looking at the future, where we want to be and figuring out the steps required to get there and who we need in what places to make that happen. In retail, it’s critical to connect with people on a human level, says Roux. Image: Supplied What were the previous roles you held prior to your current job? I have done a few roles – national retail manager, national training manager, brand manager, brand experience consultant and store manager. Some of the best lessons I have learnt from my career journey are: Get over yourself There is always more to learn, there is always someone better at something than me, there is always opportunity to get better and improve. Treat people with respect We are in the people game, so treating people like they matter and with respect is key, no matter what role – casual through to business owner. Everyone has a place on the team and everyone matters. Genuinely invest in your people When people feel like someone really genuinely is on their team and wants them to succeed, they will always invest more, stay longer and care more. Leading a team is a big responsibility I really believe that one of my roles as a leader is to help my team achieve their career goals, and in order for them to do that, they are relying on me to be honest with them about what I observe in them. Too often, people are told they are doing well, when in actual fact they are not – and it’s masked as though that is the kind thing to do. It’s not. Telling someone they are good at something that they aren’t or ignoring growth and development is actually one of the most unkind and disrespectful things leaders can do. In fact, it sets them up to fail because it gives them a false idea of where they stand and what the next steps could be for them. You’re particularly passionate about training the next generation of retail leaders. What are some of the ways that you help cultivate talent? Through the sharing of knowledge and learnings. Lots of people are too scared to share what they have learnt. It’s about spending time with people, letting them pick your brain and being really open about your wins and also the failures. Most of our best learnings come from failing so why not share them? I do a lot of behavioural profiling work with my team and looking at how to incorporate the knowledge into communication skills and getting the best out of people. It’s really funny. One of the things I have really noticed over the last few years is people don’t know how to connect with others, they know how to connect on an operations level, but not on a human level. Maybe it’s because of the rise of the digital age, maybe it’s not. I don’t know, but really understanding people and knowing how to effectively communicate is something that I think has been lost a bit. What do you love about your role? I love the opportunity to really make an impact. It’s such a privilege to be able to work with a brand and help it grow, but more importantly, to work with a team and to see them achieve their career goals. I actually love getting out of bed, knowing that at some level, you have been trusted to partner with someone to help guide and mentor them to progress to achieve their dream What are some of your favourite retail brands and why? I mean, Sheike, obviously – haha. Mecca. What an incredible brand. They just do such a fantastic job of creating community, giving an incredible in-store experience and delivering products that customers want and love. Lululemon. They know how to build a community, they give such a personal shopping experience without it being too much – it feels very authentic to the brand. Honey Birdette. They own their space and the team delivers an on-brand experience. I love that they aren’t trying to appeal to everyone but instead, they have really committed to what they do well and really have stayed true to it. Roux loves playing a role in the key moments in customers’ lives. Image: Supplied If you could swap jobs with someone for a day, who would it be and why? Maybe Simon Sinek, motivational speaker and people expert. He really inspires me and he’s making an impact on the next generation of leaders, so I love that. If you could give advice to anyone who would want a role like yours, what would it be? Say ‘yes’ to opportunities within your current role. Too often I hear people say ‘no’ to being asked to help out or support or train someone, but all those small opportunities create bigger opportunities. What are some of the coolest things about working in fashion retail? The people. It is such a people-focused industry and we get an opportunity to help people feel great about themselves on some of their most important occasions – first interview, first date, engagement, funeral of a loved one, etc. The ability to partner with someone to help create an outfit for them for one of these moments really does mean something.