10 minutes with Sam De Kauwe from alice McCall
Stepping into the alice McCall showroom is everything you’d expect it to be… fanciful fabrics, beautiful interiors and of course, confident and intelligent people working hard and loving what they do. We had the pleasure of visiting the alice McCall HQ to chat to Sam De Kauwe, manager of the alice McCall marketing team, to find out more about who she is and her covetable role in PR and marketing.
CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHO YOU ARE, WHERE YOU’VE WORKED & YOUR BACKGROUND?
I am originally a Perth girl, who has lived in Sydney for the last 13 years but who never forgets her roots being from the very chill West Australian coastline. I studied a Bachelor of Commerce with a double major in marketing & advertising at university, so it’s really no surprise that I am very passionate about building strong brand identities. While fashion is definitely the backbone of my career, my experience hasn’t been confined to apparel, as I have worked across footwear, intimates, & eyewear brands & even a stint in the coffee industry. I’m very proud of the incredible portfolio of brands that I’ve managed the branding & communications of which include alice McCall, sass & bide, Ray-Ban, through to Vittoria & Reebok to name some.
WHAT DOES YOUR DAY-TO-DAY LOOK LIKE AS A MARKETING MANAGER FOR ALICE MCCALL? CAN YOU TALK US THROUGH YOUR LAST 24 HOURS?
The key areas that I manage in conjunction with Alice for the aM business are brand communications, international PR agency management, content creation, brand events & retail marketing. So depending on what is happening at that point in time for the business, that will take up the majority of my focus. So at the moment we are planning our next campaign shoot in LA with an international creative team, along with a collection preview event also in LA. This has meant that over the last 1-2 days Alice & I have been meeting a lot going through our plans for these projects & also liaising with our US celebrity agency & suppliers. I’ve probably spent half of that time with Alice in planning meetings; had a quarterly marketing budget review with our CFO; met with my team on our plans to execute over the next month & spent the rest on calls to our LA teams.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE THE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?
I am very lucky to spend a lot of face time with Alice, who is not only a very savvy businesswoman, who I am constantly impressed by & learning from, but also just a lovely person who is a lot of fun to be around. I also really do have an incredibly hardworking marketing team that are not only super talented at what they do, but great girls who I want the absolute best for in their careers. It’s a really lovely feeling to be able to bring projects/visions to life in a very tangible way & realise all the different areas that contribute to shaping a strong & successful brand.
WHAT DO YOU SPEND THE MOST TIME ON IN TERMS OF TASKS?
Every day is different but each day will definitely feature a healthy dose of emails and meetings! I’m absolutely pedantic about having an organised inbox, which also serves as my overall to do list, so if that’s not organised first thing in the day, it really throws my day out. I feel like I spend a significant portion of my day in meetings to ascertain and discuss business needs and then the rest of my time delegating/assigning/briefing into the wider team the resulting actions of the meetings. I actually hate being on the phone too long at work because I’m all about being as efficient as possible and sometimes calls just take up too much time!
HOW HAS THE ROLE OF PR CHANGED SINCE YOU FIRST STARTED IN THE INDUSTRY?
PR has changed so much in my 15 years working in the marketing and PR industry. Not only has the digitalisation of media/sample management/measurement and evaluation really taken the industry to a whole new level, also the value of coverage has changed in terms of what actually translates to commercial realities against what aids brand credibility in the industry. And while the celebrity factor was always important, it is only just growing and growing, and it looks set to continue doing so. Not to mention completely new digital forums that didn’t even exist 10 years ago that now form a major part of a brand’s communication strategy & you’re talking about a completely different landscape to back then.
YOU’VE HAD SOME INCREDIBLE PR WINS AT ALICE MCCALL – CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU THINK IS YOUR SECRET TO SUCCESS
Our secret to success has really been driven by Alice’s vision to take the brand to the next level in recent years, and then her empowering the team to achieve this vision. We are a very collaborative team and realise that getting these major hits actually takes months of hard work in the background setting up a strong foundation of strategic planning. You have to work so much harder now for the big wins, so while its a lot more work, it’s also a lot sweeter when you get these amazing results.
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 3 TIPS FOR MANAGING A SUCCESSFUL MEDIA RELATIONSHIP?
I believe passion, organisation and transparency, which is a very underrated virtue in this day and age is really important for building successful long-term relationships.
WHAT ROLE DOES FLAUNTER PLAY IN YOUR WORK LIFE? WHAT’S THE MAIN PROBLEM THAT FLAUNTER SOLVES FOR YOU?
I know that it makes my team’s life that bit easier to execute their tasks and it’s one central location where all of our sample management data is housed for all relevant parties to access, making the whole process of media loaning seamless and efficient.
WHAT TOOLS DID YOU USE BEFORE US?
We were living in the dark ages before Flaunter, using highly manual Excel spreadsheets and email filing systems to stay on top of our PR requirements.
IF YOU WEREN’T WORKING IN MARKETING/PR, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING RIGHT NOW?
I actually always wanted to be a lawyer but thought business might be a slightly more exciting option…so who knows, I might have been busting balls in court instead of in the fashion industry!
Images: Sam photographed for Flaunter by Leon Chan, behind the scenes at the alice McCall MBFWA 17 by Tim Da Rin.