For many fashion retailers, having a celebrity wear something from your range can be a dream come true.
However, when it’s from style icon and the much-loved Princess Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, the euphoria can be a whole new level.
This is precisely what Cecile Reinaud experienced when the Duchess sported Seraphine maternity wear in publicity shots shortly after the birth of Prince George.
In this week’s “5 Minutes With”, Reinaud talks about that career highlight, as well as her journey from the moment she quit her advertising job to establish Seraphine – which has grown from a humble boutique store in London to an international brand.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background before Seraphine.
Before Seraphine I worked as an account director at advertising agency J Walter Thompson. I rose quickly through the ranks there, and became the youngest account manager in the company’s history.
I had always wanted to pursue a career in advertising, so it was really a dream role for me at the time.
What got you into the retail sector in the first place?
If I’m honest, it all came about quite organically.
There came a time in my life when suddenly all of my friends and family seemed to be pregnant. That was all anyone was talking about – and a lot of the conversation was dominated by complaints about the lack of stylish maternity clothes.
I’ve always been passionate about entrepreneurship, and fashion is practically in my blood, so this seemed to me to be the perfect gap in the market to fill. I did some research, trusted my instincts and took a leap of faith.
Why did you make that switch from advertising to retail?
I loved my career in advertising and was proud of the progress I’d made, so I was naturally nervous at the thought of leaving it to strike out on my own. But really, once I’d had the idea there was no way that I could give up on it.
Owning my own business had been a dream of mine since I could remember, and if I could combine that with my love of fashion, then it was a chance I had to take.
There is always something exciting going on at Seraphine, which is the part of my job that I thrive on. I get to travel a lot too, visiting our stores in London, New York, Paris, Hong Kong & Dubai, and I love visiting new territories to scout for new places to develop Seraphine further internationally.
Describe your responsibilities as Seraphine’s CEO.
As chief executive I oversee every aspect of my business from product development to merchandising, marketing and PR.
I love working closely with my design team, developing each season’s new range of styles, and my background in advertising puts me in a great position to direct our marketing and PR activities. Some days I will be overseeing photoshoots and others I will be attending trade meetings.
Everyday is completely different.
How has your previous experience aided your current job?
At J Walter Thompson I took on a huge amount of responsibility at a relatively young age. I credit the leadership experience I gained in this role with giving me the confidence to strike out on my own and set up my own business.
Working in advertising also taught me invaluable lessons about the importance of branding, communications and pr, which has been essential for Seraphine.
I’d say I’ve brought with me a certain willingness to take risks, the ability to think on my feet and a great eye for opportunity.
How is Seraphine different to other retailers?
At Seraphine w