You’ll know from my previous blog that Michael Griffin, CEO of Porsche Design (PD) SA lives and breathes the brand. Every. Single. Day. And without effort. But I wondered how he would possibly find anyone to run his business day to day that truly shared in what he believed.
To find out I sat down for an impromptu chat (read: they didn’t know I was coming!) with Mariette Coetzee, the store manager and Lucie Dlamini, one of the sales assistants at Porsche Design. I already knew they were very capable, having visited the store a few times by now, but I was keen to get their perspective since they steered this ship every day….
Wisaal: How would you describe the PD brand to someone who knew nothing about it?
Mariette: It isn’t for the Porsche driver. There are different lines, such as fashion, sports, and accessories and there is something for everyone across a range of ages and interests. PD is about the design, functionality and technology that’s rolled into every item. That person who has everything is sure to walk out of the PD store having found something that they love.
Wisaal: There is so much detail that goes into a PD item. What did you know about the brand at the time you started?
Mariette: I was lucky enough to go to Germany for a week as part of my PD training – that was where I learnt the most, spending time in stores, touching the product and asking questions. A colleague there took me under her wing and showed me the way. Ongoing, I also learn a lot from Michael. He’s so, so passionate and we can debate PD for hours!
Lucie: Pretty not much but I also learnt so much through Michael and from Mariette as well, it’s been a steep learning curve, but great. I was blown away by the brand when I first got to know it & the details…
Wisaal: What’s been your experience working here vs. other retail stores?
Mariette: It’s been a huge change for me and the response we’ve had from customers has been fantastic. I love the brand. It’s been a phenomenal ride.
Wisaal: Tell me who your customers are?
Mariette: They are a mix, some know the brand, and some don’t. They’re anywhere from 25 upwards. They appreciate design. Mostly male but that’s changing as we expand the female offerings in the store. Sometimes we get customers who know the brand very, very well from having seen our stores abroad.
Lucie: It’s great seeing people’s reactions especially new customers – they really appreciate the brand. People are curious about PD and will often come in and try on items to get a touch and feel for the brand – we love that.
Wisaal: What question do customers ask most frequently ask?
Mariette: It would be if we are associated with the car.
Wisaal: What is the price range of items in the store?
Mariette: starts at socks at R280 and a watch at R132 500 but there is a watch that goes for R2.5m but that’s only available on order.
Wisaal: So if you needed to order an item in from Germany, let’s say you ran out of a size or a customer saw something they liked online, would you be able to order it and how long would that take?
Mariette: It very much depends on the item, the availability & seasonality. The system allows us to check what stock is available at the warehouse and at some of the stores across the globe. Of course we would do our very best to get in here soonest – this could take from a week upwards.
Wisaal: What’s the most popular selling items in the store?
Mariette: That would have to be water racing jackets…
Lucie: and then wallets and sunglasses
Wisaal: Who does Porsche Design see as competition?
Mariette: Its varies by category but it would be other high end luxury brands so for luggage it would be Louis Vuitton, sunglasses would be for example Gucci.
Lucie: Then there’s Burberry, True Religion….
Wisaal: Tell me about your personal favourite Porsche Design item if you could choose just one to take home with you today?
Mariette: It’s so hard to choose one item! Well I have a pair of PD sneakers at home that I love. If I have to choose just one my most desired item is one of the leather jackets, the aviator that I’m working to save towards
Lucie: Also a leather jacket, but in cream! It’s a biker style.
I ask the ladies to point out their favourites. They head to the rails. One thing leads to another and before long they’re posing. I love it!
Incidentally, Ferdinand Alexander Porsche (grandson of the Porsche founder and designer of the Porsche 911) happens to be on the TV screen in the background the second I take the pic and dare I say that’s a look of approval he’s wearing – they look so hot!
I leave with a deeper respect for the brand – PD has handpicked their ambassadors who sell and wear the brand with an enormous amount of pride and, might I add, style!
This post was originally written as the 5th of 6 entries into the iFashion Porsche Design bloggers competition for which I was a finalist. See original post here: http://www.ifashion.co.za/index.php?option=com_myblog&show=meet-the-women-behind-the-man-behind-the-brand.html&Itemid=144