Kathmandu’s ANZ visual merchandising manager Sally Roberts shares how sustainability is shaping the way she works, the lessons she’s learned on her career path, the importance of mentorship and some of her favourite stores and designers. Inside Retail: Describe a typical day at work for you. Sally Roberts: No two days are the same for me in my role as the visual merchandising (VM) manager at Kathmandu. I thrive on the variety and love being involved in all areas of the business. This c
This can be from workshopping sustainable VM options and requirements for a store’s layout, meeting with regional managers to be across what is happening on shop floors to working with our creative studio, strategically planning and designing the VM for future seasons. IR: Tell me about your role and what it involves. SR: I’m responsible for creating and driving the VM strategy for Kathmandu – bringing the best customer experience to life in our network of stores. The core of my role is to inspire and educate customers while they are in our store to help enable them to get outside and experience the outdoors. Through sustainable practices we create fun, inspiring interactions for customers in store. I lead a strong creative and experienced team who work collaboratively from planning to execution. Roberts’ role at Kathmandu involves driving the VM strategy across stores. Image: Supplied. IR: What are some of the interesting lessons you’ve learnt from your previous roles? SR: I’ve been lucky enough to work with some iconic global brands. My career began at Country Road where I was a field VM. Working with such an incredible team really established my love for VM. It definitely helped me develop and gave me the confidence to take on my next roles at The Body Shop, Susan and French Connection. My biggest lesson was being genuine, engaged and open to learning from peers. The people you work with have great knowledge which helps you upskill and develop your own career. I believe it’s important to understand your customer and work collaboratively with your business. Our roles as a VM is to work closing with stores joining the dots and relations from a support office strategy. The great thing about being a part of a large team is how everyone brings something to the team and success comes from working collaboratively. IR: What do you love about your job? SR: There is a lot I love about my role – the passionate team I work with at Kathmandu and my love for the retail industry. The retail industry is constantly evolving, for example the increased need to incorporate sustainable practices into VM. VM is definitely a career where building relationships is key. I also love the creative side and all its challenges being part of a large network of stores. Recently, retailers require sustainability to play a role in their visual merchandising. Image: Supplied. IR: What are some of your favourite stores around the world and why? SR: I love visiting small quirky stores . The reason being they have loads of personality and are hard to replicate. I also enjoy visiting well established brands that create smaller footprints for local customers making a more personalised experience. I support conscious brands in protecting and caring for our environment. Tokyo’s presentation of retail is one not to miss – from Shinjuku to Shibuya it has the most amazing energy. Recently I saw Primark UK build a pop-up shipping container in Shoreditch filled completely with wellness and sustainably sourced product and the actual store fittings and signage were made from natural materials that can be recycled . IR: What are some of the store design trends that you’re most interested in right now? SR: I love atmosphere in a store. Technology has opened endless sustainable solutions and continues to inspire better customer experiences. An example of this at Kathmandu is when we redesigned Christchurch’s flagship store. We focused on customer experience through natural outdoor materials and created space for a water refill station and mobile charging point at community hub. Keeping the Christchurch flagship local and relevant to the customers was important. To do this we collaborated with a local NZ artist who designed our opening window. IR: If you could work alongside anyone for a day, who would it be and why? SR: There is a long list of people I’d love to work with. What really intrigues is the teams behind the success stories that really make it happen . This could be surprising… I’d say Kanye West . He is bold with his decisions and has the ability to pull together talented and diverse teams. Diversity enables challenges to be looked at from a variety of directions bringing the best end result that can be achieved collectively and celebrated. IR: If you could give advice to anyone who would want a role like yours, what would it be? SR: Experience all areas of retail – this enables a well-rounded approach to VM execution and helps in building rapport throughout the business. I am grateful to work at Kathmandu where I am passionate about the people and products. Be energetic, passionate, enthusiastic as a lot of the role is bringing people along the journey with you. Lastly I would suggest to never stop learning and researching trends that are occurring globally. Our space is constantly evolving so it is beneficial to keep an eye on the bigger picture.