Careers in Lingerie: Managing Director with Jemma Barnes

Author: Estelle

Today’s post is part of my Careers in Lingerie series, a behind-the-scenes look at distinct jobs in the lingerie industry – what they’re genuinely like, and how to get into them. Previous installments include an online boutique owner and an owner of an independent brick-and-mortar boutique, and today I’m moving on to the role of managing a lingerie brand when it’s owned by somebody else.

I spoke to Jemma Barnes, the Managing Director of Anita in the UK and previously of Aubade, who reveals the many different tasks this job role entails, shows that you don’t necessarily need to have a degree to land a equivalent position, and explains what personal qualities she’d be hunting out for if she have been hiring her own replacement.

Hi Jemma, thanks for joining the series. Can you start off by telling my readers a little about the business you work for, Anita UK Ltd.?

Anita UK Ltd. is a subsidiary of Anita Gmbh, a German/Austrian firm which is 130 years old and still in the ownership of the founding household, some four generations later. Anita has one particular simple purpose to provide functional, comfortable lingerie for ladies at each and every stage in their life and for every eventuality life throws at them! We have five sub-brands:

Anita Care – for post breast cancer surgery

Anita Maternity – for for the duration of pregnancy and then nursing newborns

Anita Active – for specialist further help needed when exercising

Anita Comfort – for ultimate comfort, especially for those will a fuller type

Rosa Faia – for “big cup beauty” sized from A – I cup

We have lingerie and swimwear in all 5 sectors and also supply health-related aids such as compression bras and silicon breast types to ladies who have undergone breast surgeries. In addition to our retail operation, we supply many of the NHS trusts and their hospitals across the UK, as well as supplying several private clinics all through the UK.


Anita Active Momentum Sports bra. 30-46 band sizes and A-H cup sizes.

You also head up Eloise alongside a brand manager. What is that organization all about?

Eloise is mostly a mail-order company specialising in products for ladies who have undergone remedy for breast cancer. The company was set up some years ago and had a loyal following who relied on Eloise for option, selection and great service. A handful of years ago the company was up for sale and in danger of ceasing to exist – so rather than allowing the firm to close, Anita decided to acquire the brand and develop it into a luxury mail-order organization for fashionable and discerning ladies struggling to locate lovely lingerie and swimwear to wear with breast forms following surgery.

Whilst the majority of our consumers like the capability to attempt on their intended obtain in the comfort of their homes, some highlighted the fact they would genuinely really like to have somewhere to come and be fitted and to be capable to have guidance on the ideal merchandise to suit their individual needs. From this we decided to open the Eloise Fitting Suite in Milton Keynes, a private, comfy and relaxed environment where ladies can come by appointment only to have a one particular-to-one fitting with one of our specialists.


Anita breast prostheses and bra.

What drew you to the globe of intimates?

Possibility! I was initially going to be a Chartered Management Accountant, very a different career path than the a single I took. Nevertheless feeling a small young and naïve right after finishing school and having grown up in a small village, I was not very prepared for the excitement of living alone in Birmingham, so I took a year out and went to work as a management trainee in family-owned department retailer chain Beatties, in Northampton. My 1st division as a manager, getting graduated via the scheme, was Childrenswear and Lingerie… from that day forward I was hooked!

I by no means produced it to university, I loved the merchandise, particularly all the beautifully-coloured silks and laces. I loved the emotional connection with consumers – fitting them with garments for weddings, 1st dates or merely anything to make them feel better. Usually soon after half an hour in a fitting space collectively we were connected, and the satisfaction of creating them feel comfortable in my care and confident in their body and their purchases is a joy that’s by no means left me! I nevertheless get the very same feeling of satisfaction now when I have carried out breast form fitting in a clinic at a hospital, or in the Eloise suite.


Anita Maternity Kamaka tankini. 30-38 band sizes and C-D cup sizes.

You have the rather lofty title of Managing Director! What does being an MD involve specifically?

It signifies that I have to have a title that satisfies the legal needs and Firms House! I’m not a large believer in titles or pigeon-holing people accordingly. What operating a tiny organization like Anita implies is a lot variety and a huge commitment. I enjoy my job and the fact that I have to put on so a lot of various hats and be so several different men and women as and when the want arises.

I run the sales force, the workplace, the clinic fittings and the company vehicles. I’m accountable for marketing and overseeing the PR agency, I organise the exhibitions to market the brand and its items, I run the companies’ budgets and forecasts and am accountable for sales and monetary performance. I operate with the designers giving industrial input and feedback, I liaise with the parent organization on pricing, advertising and marketing and brand identity, I run coaching courses for retailers and breast care nurses, I run the Eloise subsidiary… I even make tea and place dustbins out!


Rosa Faia Josephine bra set. 32-42 band sizes and B-H cup sizes.

So your job requires a dash of sales, a dash of marketing and significantly much more besides. It sounds super varied! Do you have a certain bit that you get pleasure from more than the other people?
I often have been and will constantly be a sales particular person at heart. Give me a solution I think in and put me in front of a buyer at a trade fair, or in the Eloise fitting suite with a customer, and I’m in my element!

And are there any parts you locate tedious or hard?
Budgets and forecasts – in this ever altering financial environment it is so difficult to predict and program. I’m a perfectionist and I hate receiving it incorrect , but getting it proper is harder and tougher every year!


Rosa Faia Vienna bra set. 32-42 band sizes and B-G cup sizes.

What’s your career and education background, and how did it aid you to land this part?

My education ended after my A-Levels. Spurred on by a headmaster who told me to use my long legs and other charms to uncover a good man as I would never ever amount to something, I was extremely determined to prove him incorrect. As I mentioned earlier I had originally planned to be a management accountant and had a spot at Aston University, but a opportunity chat with a girlfriend on a bus led me to apply for that Management trainee function in a department retailer. I progressed properly in this part and was profitable speedily, and it soon became apparent that I performed greater in a hands-on education and understanding part.

In addition there was yet another simple truth I was earning a wage and so I could acquire good clothes and go out clubbing, whilst my buddies at uni have been all ‘poor students’ scratching around for an odd night out! I decided that staying on and creating a career in retail was certainly the path for me. Any formal qualifications ended after Beatties, from there it was the university of life – I moved from Sales Rep to Region Manager, then to Important Account Manager, Field Sales Manager and National Sales Manager. I did come up against male discrimination along the way and refused to give into the ‘boys club’ or the want to use my charms, as per my headmaster’s advice. Hard function and doing a good job always paid off – I was sooner or later headhunted for my initial position as MD, for Aubade, by reputation soon after getting advised by a number of of my happy clients.

My interview with the co-owner of the organization was an knowledge I will by no means overlook. I sat down on her stand in Paris and she asked me a couple of very practical concerns, then at the finish of the formal interview she place a set of her lingerie in my hands and asked me to sell them to her. They have been stunning pieces – I took a moment just to really feel the, touch them and understand what they meant and represented, then I launched into my sales pitch! At the finish of the interview, I was quickly offered the job. She stated “Just before you opened your mouth to describe the merchandise I had already produced up my mind to provide you the job – simply because of the way your eyes lit up when you held the solution“. I guess if you have a actual passion for something then it usually shows via.


Anita Comfort Manhattan corselet. 34-50 band sizes and B-E cup sizes.

Final one – let’s imagine for a moment that you’re hiring for your own replacement. What expertise do you consider is desirable or needed to be the MD of a huge lingerie brand such as Anita, and what would you look out for on someone’s CV?

Oh my gosh, that would be so difficult! I had to do it as soon as prior to when I left Aubade and really in the finish I couldn’t, I left it to the HR division. I was as well emotionally attached! I’m not saying I’m irreplaceable, not for a moment, but I have only ever taken on the part of MD of organizations that I really believe in, that I recognize and that I am passionate about. To date they have also been household businesses exactly where the owners have actually welcomed me into the fold and treated me like component of their extended family members. As such I have a fierce loyalty to their brand and everything it represents – I treat the firm like it is my own. I be concerned about every single penny I invest and invest, I take care when I recruit to make sure I have the appropriate folks with the right outlook, I commit heart and soul and often want to accomplish growth, profit, increased brand awareness and an improved reputation for service.

I would be hunting for the very same type of qualities and the exact same commitment and passion, a person who wasn’t just searching for a wage and a good vehicle! I would want an individual who wanted to comprehend the company and its goods and would embrace all that is very good about it, but show a commitment and drive to improve the good and respectfully address any problems or failings.

Thanks so considerably for sharing some insight these days into what it is like managing a lingerie brand. Where can my readers find you on the internet?

Click right here to see the rest of the Careers in Lingerie interview series, and subscribe to the weblog if you want to make positive you don’t miss future instalments! If you’re seeking to acquire any Anita items, you can get them from Amazon or discover a stockist here.

What would you like to see me concentrate on next for this blog series? Is there a particular job in the lingerie market that you’re keen to understand far more about?Estelle

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