After stepping into the role of wholesale manager at independent lingerie brand Bluebella, Joanne Bolton discusses her plans to drive the brand forward.
Three months ago, Joanne Bolton, the former sales executive at Gossard and Berlei, joined Bluebella to build its sales in the UK and overseas.
She had been in charge of department store and international sales at Gossard and Berlei, where she worked for nine years, and moved to Bluebella after watching it grow from a fledging brand into an award-winning business since launching in 2005.
In her new role, she explains why she made the move and the lessons she brings from Gossard and Berlei.
How are you finding your new role?
It’s exciting and presents all sorts of fresh challenges. Bluebella is an incredibly fast-evolving label, breaking into new markets internationally. My job is to develop our existing business and grow new partnerships. New opportunities are arising all the time – it’s very busy.
How did the role come about?
I had watched Bluebella evolve admiringly over several years and I knew it had a great market position and product. The quality of the Bluebella product, coupled with its pricing, is very appealing and I could see it would hit the right note with buyers. Then Bluebella CEO Emily and I crossed paths and it felt right. I had been with Gossard and Berlei for nine years and it felt like a good time for a change.
What attracted you to the position and Bluebella?
I liked the fact that Bluebella was at such an exciting point in its journey. The brand is established, has a fast growing profile in the press and has invested significantly in systems, product and operations. So all the potential in the world is there. I was attracted to the position because I liked the team, liked the brand and I felt I could make a meaningful impact which would be satisfying.
What have you been up to in your first few months at the company?
Getting to know Emily and the rest of the Bluebella team and getting a firm grip on how we can grow the brand most effectively to maximise sales. This has meant analysing existing accounts and working out how we can support them better, as well as forging new partnerships internationally to introduce Bluebella to new markets. I actually can’t believe it’s only been three months! We have achieved a lot already and I very much feel part of the team.
What lessons did you learn during your time at Gossard which you will bring to your new role?
I learnt an awful lot at Gossard and hopefully those lessons can be used now to the benefit of Bluebella. The key lesson? That this business is all about good relationships. If you have good honest relationships with your team and your partners, everyone wins. It allows you to maximise potential and if things go wrong – you find the best way through in partnership. At Gossard I was very proud of the relationships I cultivated and I hope to replicate that success at Bluebella.
What are your main responsibilities at Bluebella?
To build sales both in the UK and overseas with a particular focus on the States. We have had great success in the last few years attracting new stockists here and internationally such as Topshop, House of Fraser, Urban Outfitters, Asos and overseas with Zalando in Europe and Nordstrom in the States. I need to maintain that momentum and find fresh stockists. I am also seeking and developing new agent and distributor relationships in key markets.
How do you plan to grow the brand both in the UK and abroad?
It sounds simple, but by maximising our existing relationships and finding new ones. We can see masses more potential with our existing accounts by introducing new product groups and working more closely to support them. And there are masses of new business out there too. We have some amazing new stockists for AW17 who we are really looking forward to working with. It’s a team effort – other members of the team are doing a stellar job raising the brand’s profile across the press, via digital marketing and social media and that helps and feeds into what I do. We’re seeing exponential growth across our channels, which is really exciting. My job is to make sure that growth continues whilst still providing a top notch service.