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05.03.2022

THE PEOPLE BEHIND ESSENTIEL ANTWERP

DIANE & WENDY
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Get to know Diane and Wendy, colleagues in crime working together at our wholesale department for almost 10 years. Straight from our pink showroom, they are welcoming you into their world.
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Thanks for having us in the showroom at Essentiel Antwerp headquarters today. So, this is where you usually invite Belgian and Luxembourgish wholesale clients to discover and buy the collections. Can you tell us what a typical day at work usually looks like?

Diane & Wendy — Our daily job depends very much on the period of the year. It is very diverse and that’s what we genuinely love about it. During what we call the “sales campaigns” we present and sell the collection to our clients. During the rest of the year, we are mostly on the road visiting them to discuss the collections and how sales are going in general. These feedback moments are crucial because they are very helpful to our design team when they need to make effective decisions for improvements to future collections. We also give them trainings and workshops so that they fully understand the products and brand they’re selling.



That sounds really interesting! Your job seems very different from working in a store, can you explain how it is exactly?

Diane — It is very different as we do not sell to end consumers. We sell collections with sample pieces six months in advance to our wholesale clients (who own their own multi-brand stores). Two to four times a year, they come and visit the showroom in Antwerp on appointment. Once their order has been processed and confirmed, the clothes go in production and are delivered to them at the beginning of the according season, which is six months later. Instead of advising an end customer, we guide our wholesale clients in making the best selection that will appeal to their own clients.

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"It’s very pleasant to work with our clients because we really have established a strong bond with them. Not only do we sell them the best pieces according to the preferences of their customers, but we also encourage them to purchase our eye-catchers, novelties, and more fashionable items."
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You are always in contact with our multi-brand partners. What’s it like to work with them?

Wendy — Over the years, we have built a close relationship with our clients, we even call them our partners. We work towards the same goal together by selecting the best pieces that are perfect for their customers and which they will love.

Diane — Indeed, it’s very pleasant to work with our clients because we really have established a strong bond with them. Not only do we sell them the best pieces according to the preferences of their customers, but we also encourage them to purchase our eye-catchers, novelties, and more fashionable items.



How and when did you start your career at Essentiel Antwerp?

Diane — I have been working in wholesale fashion industry for my entire professional career. Inge (Co-founder and Creative Director) and I have been friends for years and she is the one who convinced me to join the company. Now, I have been part of the Essentiel Antwerp family for 20 years already.

Wendy — I joined the brand 16 years ago and it seems ages ago (laughs). I previously worked in the diamond industry in Antwerp commuting from Brussels to Antwerp every day. On the train, I often spotted a lot of “Essentiel Antwerp girls” who were also going to work. I was intrigued by their style and started talking to them. After a while, they reached out and asked if I wanted to join the family. I happily accepted and first started my career in the logistics department. I took on a new challenge by joining the wholesale department 8 years ago.

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You both have seen Essentiel Antwerp evolve and expand over the years, how did you experience the evolution of the brand and of the wholesale approach?

Diane — Over the past 20 years, the collections have evolved tremendously. From a small T-shirt collection to a full collection with a variety of ready-to-wear clothes and accessories. The brand grew quickly and to keep up with the high demand, we had a lot of sales points. However, after the pandemic, we took the decision to adapt our strategy. This resulted in our new approach: building and maintaining loyal partnerships and customers’ trust by operating a more selective distribution network.

Wendy — We have seen Essentiel Antwerp grow from a small Belgian family business into a big international brand. Over the last 10 years, growth for both retail and wholesale has been positive and consistent, thriving in both fields until the pandemic. As Diane explains, the unexpected crisis made us rethink our wholesale strategy. We came back stronger and are convinced that our new strategy works. Today, we are closer than ever to our clients thanks to our personal approach: we analyse their sales, understand their needs, and give them the tools to improve their sales.

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"I am just overall very appreciative for the trust everyone has shown me. I've always been curious about different aspects of the business, and I value that I get the opportunity to think along."
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What are the highlights of your career?

Diane — It is difficult to choose specific highlights. Yet I think that the sales campaigns are the most exciting, challenging, and stimulating. Discovering new collections every season is always a great surprise. Obviously, the bond I’ve created with our partners over the years is something I would not want to miss.

Wendy — I am just overall very appreciative for the trust everyone has shown me. I have been assigned to various roles in the company and I have also had the opportunity to travel abroad. I've always been curious about different aspects of the business, and I value that I get the opportunity to think along.



How would you describe your own personal style? Where do you see the match with Essentiel Antwerp?

Diane — My own style is somewhat more classic, but it has evolved by working at Essentiel Antwerp for such a long time. I am more open to colors and unique pieces; my wardrobe choices are more daring.

Wendy — I have a more casual style, I love to wear a pair of jeans with a cute blazer, sweater or blouse. The collections that Essentiel Antwerp offer are so diverse that it’s effortless to find a beautiful piece that suits your style: you can go all the way with prints or opt for a monochrome outfit with bright, happy colors.

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"We started as colleagues but have become good friends over the years. We try to lift each other up at work by challenging and supporting each other."
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It seems like you two get along great, what’s it like to work together?

Diane — Indeed, next to being colleagues, we have become good friends. We complement each other very well in our jobs and we both have our own field of expertise. We get to learn from each other, which is very interesting.

Wendy — Yes, we started as colleagues but have become good friends over the years. We try to lift each other up at work by challenging and supporting each other. This way we become the best version of ourselves. Work is fun, especially when you can do it with a friend.

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