We start off our series on the role of the agent in children’s fashion with an interview from Barcelona based Tabata Kids who represents the likes of Organic Zoo, Emile et Ida, Sleepy Doe and more.
Any label looking to develop it’s customer base will at some point consider working with an agent. However finding the correct agent can seem daunting, the pitfalls of getting it wrong can be both painful and expensive. If you get it right however, the advantage to your brand in that market can be huge. So how do you find the correct agent, or do they find you? We talk to 3 children’s fashion agents about their own approach, what they look for when signing a new label, and their role as intermediary between client and brand from their perspective.
A little while back I spoke to Cristina Fernandez, Founder & Creative Director of Little Creative Factory and asked what her thoughts are on the brand /agent relationship? Little Creative Factory currently works with 5 agents, Italy, Japan, Korea, United Kingdom and Spain.
You cannot look for an agent, they have to look for you. The agent needs to fall in love with your brand and desire the brand in order to make it grow and develop in that market. You have to be patient and your time will come to find your ‘right’ agent.
Agent: Ana Castán Puente, Tabata Kids
Ana has been working as an agent for 10 years having set up in 2008. She works alone representing 8 different International brands.
- Organic Zoo
- Emile et Ida
- Sleepy Doe
- Inch Blue / Wolfie and Willow
- Holly & Bea
- The Make Department (very new no website)
Do you work in a specific geographic territory?
I have always worked as an exclusive agent in Spain.
How did you become an agent?
I have been working in different sectors always in the children’s fashion business, first as a free-lance designer, for more than 10 years, afterwards with my own shop, and finally as an agent introducing new international brands in Spain. This is when I noticed that the national market was changing and new and more modern brands were needed here.
What do you enjoy about being an agent?
I really love the start of the sales campaign, receiving the new collections, and having appointments with clients. I totally love meeting clients (already known and new ones). Each new collection makes each season different and to be in touch with clients, to know about them, their experience, personal projects and aims is really enriching. Agents are the “bridge” between the brand and their potential, we need to know about each side of the bridge and connect them both.
What is it that attracts you to a brand?
The coherence between creativity and their final product. Innovation and originality but always with quality.
How do you approach the curation of the brands you represent – do you focus on a specific look/ style or seek out complementary aesthetics to offer your buyer a complete option?
My personal taste is important, as I won’t be able to “sell” a brand that I don’t like… But of course it is also important to offer diversity to the clients.
Do you have to reject brands despite liking them, because they are not a good fit with your existing portfolio?
Yes, of course.
When is a brand ready for an agent?
When they already have the knowledge about the market and their target. Where they are and where do they want to go. Some new brands have serious shortages and hire agents to open a market… But they need to know first if they are really ready enough ;)
What creates a good relationship between an agent and brand?
Honesty, good communication and the same goals.
How do agents balance their loyalty between the brands they represent and their customers?
As I told before, we need to be a “bridge” between both parts. We need to know our clients needs and if the brand we are representing are able to cover these needs…and vice versa ;)
How involved do you get when orders don’t go as planned?
When this happens, the best is to be honest with the brand. I always ask clients the reasons why they don’t order, and I inform the brand. Sometimes problems come for prices, delivery terms, payment conditions…so maybe the brand can solve them and be successful.
What are the pitfalls to avoid for agents/ brands looking to work together?
From the brand: The brand needs to have 100% confidence with the agent. The agent is in charge of contacting clients and opening the market, while the brand needs to avoid interfering in the tasks of the agent.
From the agent: The agent should be 100% honest to the brand. If the brand doesn’t fit with the agent’s clients the brand should be informed quickly, as the sales campaign passes quickly and the brand is waiting for orders…
Does an agent’s job extend further than driving sales?
I believe yes…Competence is hard, and clients sometimes choose a brand because of the treatment he/ she receives from the agent. We cannot forget we are (a bit) the “ambassadors”, the image they have from the brand.
How involved do you get in providing qualitative feedback to brands from the market to help them develop stronger collections. How do you see your role here?
Of course! An agent should get the confidence of the client and know what they are looking for. What are, in their opinion, the strong points of the brands you are selling, but also the weakest points they have, and need to inform the brands about this to keep clients satisfied and improve the brand’s offer.
Can you describe the relationship you have with your buyers?
I am trying to keep a close relation with them, at least with a good number of them. Their job is not easy, multi-brand shops are having a lot of problems and competence with online sales, outlets and markets, and you need to help them somehow to be competitive.
Finally, what piece of advice would you give to a young label looking for an agent?
A young label which is starting now needs to know their clients directly. In the first collections, I always say that they do not need an agent, is better to get in touch directly with their potential and “learn” about them and their needs. It’s essential for a brand to know if they are doing well. After this,they can have an agent who helps them to improve and be successful.
Thank you Ana for taking part!
Emile et Ida
C/ Bailén, 220 1st floor
Organic Zoo, new store article. Read here