Rickie Dee, Superette Director. Image supplied.
Rickie Dee is the co-founder of beloved retail brand Superette which she launched with her business partner James Rigden in 2002. Superette has become well-known for its carefully curated selection of men’s and women’s clothing and accessories from some of New Zealand’s and the world’s leading designer fashion brands. Recently Rickie and James launched new retail experience Superette International in Newmarket, Auckland, which offers a fascinating selection of international brands, many of which are new to the New Zealand market.
We caught up with Rickie to find out more about Superette International, how she has managed the growth of her brand and what makes her excited for the future.
Congratulations on opening Superette International, can you explain the concept of it and where the idea came from?
We created Superette International as a way of expanding our current brand family and providing our customers with access to even more amazing designers from around the world. The idea of collaborating with and building up brands is something that has remained exciting and inspiring for us over the past 17 years. When Superette first started we brought a lot of designers to New Zealand for the first time, some of which have grown alongside Superette and have transformed from tiny boutique brands into household names. Whilst developing Superette International, this has been a real driving factor for us as we are so passionate about it. Discovering new talent and fresh, exciting brands acts as the bones of Superette International, extending from the stores location to the design, brands and experiences provided in store and online.
Can you tell us a bit more about the styling service on offer?
Superette International presented us with an opportunity to offer our customers some unique experiences that we’ve had in mind for a while but haven’t had the right space to execute them. Our new by-appointment stylist sessions are the perfect example of this. We’re really committed to harnessing innovation to elevate the shopping experience and as a result, we’ve created a totally personalised service to make the lives of our customers easier. Customers are able to book appointments via our website with one of six in-house stylists who best matches their aesthetic and is totally devoted to finding them exactly what they need. As we continue to strive to redefine retail we’ve also created an online version of this service that delivers a curated range to some of our customers based outside of Auckland.
What has been the most disruptive change in fashion since you launched Superette in 2002?
It would be crazy not to acknowledge the huge rise in online shopping. It’s something we have seen the effect of first hand as it continues to disrupt and alter the retail game however it’s certainly a change that we have embraced with open arms. Whilst we will always remain fans of a brick and mortar experience, our omnichannel approach is essential to how we run the business every day. We adapt everything we do to match the pace of the world and how our customers digest and consume fashion today.
Looks from Superette International.
Fast forward to 2019 and Superette has six retail stores, what have been the major changes for your business and how have you managed growth?
Whilst a lot has happened over the past 17 years, our main focus is always on growing the business and taking it to the next level. We aim to take the business from stage to stage in gradual steps making sure that nothing gets overlooked or lost in the whirlwind of everyday life. We want to stay ahead of the retail game which means that every step we make is carefully planned out to ensure that we’re taking the business where it needs to go. It’s also really important to listen to our team and our customers as it gives us such a huge insight into what’s working well and what people are looking for from us.
How do you balance the creative and business demands of your role in your brand?
As a company one of our key aims is to inspire both our customers and our team. Creativity and staying ahead of the game play a huge role in this and are something we really try to make time for in our busy schedules, however it’s so important that these ideas are backed up with data and stats to ensure that it’s worthwhile for the company and makes sense for where the business is heading. My role is so varied and can range from showings to creative planning to excel spreadsheets all within a few hours! Good planning sessions are key to ensuring everyone is on the same page and is something that James and I like to lock in time to spend on each month.
How do you maintain a personal connection with your customers and how does social media help you to connect with them?
The customer is always at the forefront of everything we do from buying through to retail and everything in between. There is so much happening out there on social media so our main aim is to take advantage of technology and where it is going to enhance our customer’s experience without feeling automated or de-humanised. We have a real drive to understand our customers – who they are and where they are communicating with us, technology and social stats helps us to gain insight in to this however it’s so important to us to have our Superette team ready and waiting to help whether that’s in store, on the phone, via our online chat or through comments and messages on our social channels. Superette has always been more than a store, we’ve always aimed to create a lifestyle and that’s something our customers really resonate and connect with. Our social channels allow us to share new arrivals and products alongside amazing locations, events or art that excites the Superette team. Both Superette and Superette International are all about connecting with the customers further, creating a lifestyle and designing an amazing experience that flows seamlessly between online and in store.
How has buying for Superette changed your thoughts on fashion retail and where do you see its future?
We have always stayed pretty close to our roots with buying and the customer is always front of mind on any buying trip or showing we go to. We have a basic rule that if we don’t love it, we don’t buy it. If we’re excited by a brand or range we know the rest of the Superette team and our customer will be too. It always seemed like a pretty natural way of doing things but seems to go against what every buying book says! It’s what the Superette customer has come to know and love and it is always obvious to them when in store that all our staff are so passionate about the brand and every item on the rack. We have come to know our customer a lot more and what they are after so this certainly makes it a little easier. Both our Superette and Superette International concepts cater to men and women and like our existing customers, the International customer is quite varied so we will always aim to have something for everyone. The Superette International customer we have in mind when searching for brands or buying is a global citizen and is up to play with all things fashion, design and lifestyle around the world. They love to dress up, have a comfortable yet refined style and love to experiment with new brands, styles and trends.
Looks from Superette International.
How would you describe your personal style and how does it influence your in-house Superette fashion label?
My style is quite relaxed as I’m constantly on the go at work and at home. This certainly is something that flows through into the Superette ranges. We love to create pieces that are effortless and easy to wear and can fit seamlessly in any wardrobe, regardless of your age and stage of your life.
What’s been the most valuable lesson you have learned from starting up your own business?
Owning your own business is no easy feat. It never sleeps and requires a lot of hard work. At the start we did everything as it was only James and I, then as we have expanded and grown over the last 17 years it has been important to employ the right people to help you get to your business goals. We have a really open team and James and I believe it’s really important to communicate our goals with the company so they come along on the Superette journey.
Looking to the future, how far ahead do you plan and what makes you excited about the future?
We’re always aiming to be better than we were yesterday so for us our focus is on continuing to improve and develop both Superette and Superette International. Most of the big projects are planned out well in advance however we are always prepared to get on board with a last minute collaboration or project if it’s something that really excites us. The next thing on our list is the opening of our Commercial Bay store later this year which we are really looking forward to bringing to life and venturing into a new area of Auckland.