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15.10.2020

THE PEOPLE BEHIND ESSENTIEL ANTWERP

LEEN VAN RUMST
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Get to know Leen Van Rumst, the Store Manager of our Flagship store in Antwerp and read all about her job, her personal style and her love for the brand. And who knows, next time you’re visiting Antwerp, you may actually meet her in person.
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What made you start working in Retail?

Leen — I started my retail journey when I did a Photography major in Gent and was looking for a summer job. My boyfriend at the time was from Antwerp, so you could say love brought me here. For the job hunt, I was strolling around the city with my friend and just walked into stores whose style resonated with my own. After finishing my studies, I was given the opportunity to open a store for that same fashion company. So you can say my summer job led to a career in retail. After a while a headhunter contacted me with the opportunity to start at Essentiel Antwerp and it's a choice I have not regretted since.



When did you start working at Essentiel Antwerp?

Leen — I started working for Essentiel Antwerp nine years ago. My parents were business owners, so I enjoy the hustle and bustle and know the value of hard work. Essentiel Antwerp provided the same dynamic and atmosphere I still enjoy. On my first day, Inge (co-founder of Essentiel Antwerp) came by the store and was so vivacious and welcoming, I instantly had the feeling I made the right decision and it's the reason I'm still working here today.

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"We build a personal relationship with our customers and bring out the best in them by suggesting the right outfits."
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What is it like working at Essentiel Antwerp?

Leen — Essentiel Antwerp gives you the freedom to be yourself. We all have our own personality and I love that I have the ability to express this in my style as well as my work. Most of all, working here is fun! We laugh and share our experiences with each other and what better way to communicate than with humor. I love that I can work at a company where I have nice colleagues and feel at home.



You’ve been working at Essentiel Antwerp for quite a while. What keeps you motivated?

Leen — I love the spirit of Essentiel Antwerp as well as having the privilege to work in the Flagship Store. Not to mention, we're fortunate to be in such a fashionable city. There's also a lot involvement due to being so close to the Headquarters. Essentiel Antwerp gives me the feeling that my opinions are valued, it's the spark that keeps me going.



Throughout the years, a lot has changed in Retail and Fashion with the rise of online shopping. How do you experience that change?

Leen — I’ve witnessed the gradual evolution of online shopping and was challenged to evolve together with it. We now fully embrace our online channels, as we work with a tablet in store and use it on a daily basis. Thanks to this on- and offline integration, I can now offer an even bigger stock to my customers and therefore a better service.
During Covid-19 and the closure of the stores, we've even launched personal styling sessions via WhatsApp calls, which have proven to be a great success. We notice the customer still loves to receive guidance and assistance to navigate through our collections. A personal touch and insight in creating a silhouette that is entirely you is one of our fortes that we love to offer in-store as well as online.

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"I love a statement piece and where else to find it than at Essentiel Antwerp? Mixing an eyecatcher with the nonchalance of sporty casual is what I wear most. Fun yet sophisticated."
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What’s your personal style and how do you find your match with Essentiel Antwerp?

Leen — My style icon is Leandra Cohen. There's something about her charisma and sense of humor as well as her color play and eye for prints. I love this playful side to fashion and find these qualities in both Essentiel Antwerp and myself. I love a statement piece and where else to find it than at Essentiel Antwerp? Mixing an eyecatcher with the nonchalance of sporty casual is what I wear most. Fun yet sophisticated. Not too matchy matchy. Essentiel Antwerp is a place where one can find items to share a connection with, no matter your preference.

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"We really stand out in the streets of Antwerp with our bold and colorful shop windows."
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Antwerp is THE fashion capital and a great shopping destination. How do you experience this in your flagship store? Why do people visit your store and why do they come back?

Leen — I think we really stand out in the streets of Antwerp with our bold and colorful shop windows.
We love to inspire people. The advantage of the Flagship store is that we get the broadest selection of items. This means we can intrigue our customers with a lot of new and exciting pieces you may not find elsewhere. We have customers that call us and request certain sales associates, because we’ve built a personal relationship with them and bring out the best in them by suggesting the right outfits. It sounds silly, they're just clothes you might think, but we take pride in working here and we all have our own specialties. Sometimes we can wear an outfit and customers buy the entire silhouette, isn't that just the biggest compliment?



Tell us more about Antwerp. Can you share some of your favorite addresses?

Leen —Antwerp is like a small village and cosmopolitan town in one and this fun contradiction is what attracts me to this city. It's not a big city yet there's so much to discover.

I love to cook myself but some days I also enjoy take out from Louis Vegetarian Deli. They're good friends of mine and my personal recommendation for healthy nourishing food.
My other favorite food places are:

  • Ciro's, pure nostalgia and always a hit.
  • Life is Art, no-nonsense and super cosy.
  • Sombat, delectable Asian food with an air of exclusivity.
  • Le Pristine, when you prefer a more upscale experience.
  • And lastly, if you enjoy a nice breakfast, the almond croissant from Domestic is to die for.

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