After three years as Managing Director of Luxtralia, supporting the expansion of brands such as Jimmy Choo and Coach in the Australian market, Geraldine Dielenberg moved in 2012 to the luxury fashion house synonymous with red-soled stiletto heels.
Globally, Louboutin’s revenue is estimated at US$300 million, and with eight stores across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and the Gold Coast now serving up pairs of the signature 12-centimetre heels here’s how Dielenberg leaves her indent.
Geraldine’s business rules
There are no rules!
Business is fluid and dynamic. I find it’s essential not to be dogmatic about strategies and policies because change is inevitable. We should embrace challenges that are thrown our way, be quick in activating new solutions where necessary. Retail today is unpredictable, with the ever-demanding consumer driving the change.
The key to our business is developing and nurturing relationships, being available to the consumer through all channels, from bricks and mortar to mobile phones, and going the extra mile, from providing money-can’t-buy experiences, such as closing the store for a VIP, to home delivery of their purchases.
Listen to your team
The people you lead are your true assets. Maintain open channels of communication at all times. I am lucky to be surrounded by committed colleagues, and I firmly believe in an all-inclusive style of management. In order for the team to deliver, they need to understand why they should deliver.
Hence, there is a lot of transparency in short- and long-term goals for the organisation and how, as individuals, we can influence the outcome of the business. There is a lot of autonomy in our organisational structure. We encourage individualism – our people are at the heart of our brand.
There is nothing less attractive in a person than a lack of empathy and generosity; it costs nothing to be kind. If a customer walks into your store just to touch the product and admire the design, give them the time, and share your knowledge.
They may not purchase the product right there and then but they will take with them your words, your actions and remember your generosity of spirit.
Network with your peers
In retail, we often have to reach out to our peers at other brands in the industry, to share best practices: what works and doesn’t work for them and us. Too often we find people who are not willing to share, who stay in a bubble of superiority, and that is extremely sad because it is only through sharing that we can learn.
After all, knowledge is power and no one is perfect! I have met many leaders who are generous with their time and information, which has helped me make strategic decisions and for that I am truly grateful.
I know it’s cliché but really, love what you do. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about the business. For Fall/Winter 2018, we have a capsule collection that has just been released called ‘Painted Love’.
When you have passion for your product, your people and your business, it comes through in the success of the brand.
Christian has celebrated love from his very first collection released 25 years ago with a special pair of pumps dedicated to the image of Princess Diana sitting in front of the Taj Mahal. When you have passion for your product, your people and your business, it comes through in success of the brand.
Empower other women
Managers who are also women have a double (or triple) whammy! It really is multi-tasking to the extreme, in the case of juggling work, kids, partners, pets, bosses, school, meals, housekeeping, etc. It’s often not a choice for many mothers to be employed, as some might think; it could be a financial decision.
But whatever the reason, if you are in a position of leadership, do reach out to other women. I often get asked by women who would like to get their foot into the industry, to share insights, and although time is often the most difficult barrier, I try and sit down with them over a cup of coffee and explain the journey of how I have managed to establish eight new-to-market brands in Australia.