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Tell us about Helena Simeonsson Agenturer, how did it all start?
“I have worked for 14 years with the Yellow Pages at, among other places, their Key Customer Department. There I learned everything I can about sales and customer relations. When I went on maternity leave, I sold children’s clothes via Lingon & Blåbär to feel that I was still “working”, then I came in contact with several creative mothers, including one who made jewelry cases that she thought I would sell. As a result, I showed my hairdresser these, and she thought I should sell jewelry, she had a friend who was looking for a seller. What I did not know was that she wanted an agent to sell to stores. I had never done this before and had absolutely no network of contacts among stores. But she said that ‘I have heard that you are good, so I will send you my jewelry collection’ – help!!
But I started my own business there and then in 2007, starting from absolute zero. One led to the other and in the end, I joined the clothing agency Container and they wanted me to take over their showroom at Modecenter, so then I joined the showroom as well, I think it was 2010.”
What type of products do you represent and what market do you target?
“I sell women’s clothes and accessories. I sell six different brands, two of which are brands in accessories and include bags, shawls, belts, sandals, and socks.”
What is the best thing about running an agency?
“It is 100% that I get to work with what I love. I love fashion and clothes! The best thing is also that I have the advantage of being able to choose which brands I work with, I only take in the brands I love.
When I started my company, my motto and driving force was ‘not another idiot manager‘, now I must be my own idiot in that case. I work really hard and a lot, but I love my freedom not to have to ask anyone if I can go to the dentist, take a much-needed morning sleep if I have worked late or if I can take a day off. I decide for myself and it’s worth a lot to me. ”
What is the hardest part of running an agency?
“The most difficult thing about being completely my own is that I am alone in all decisions, have no one to brainstorm with. I make all the decisions myself.”
The topic of sustainability is highly actual, how is it in your industry and how do you work with sustainability?
“I have several brands that have come a long way in terms of sustainability issues, such as Thought and Zilch. They manufacture according to Fairtrade and with many different certifications.”
What would you say is the biggest challenge for your industry today?
“The biggest challenge today, I hope we have had behind us, both with a tough time and a lot of writing about store deaths and more. And then a tough pandemic on it. I think that now will be positive times for stores and us agencies – if you have had a good collaboration through a tough time, you have a very good foundation to stand on when everything comes loose.
Right now it feels like the transport sector is a big problem, not only in our industry but in all industries – these are delivery delays we have never had before.”
What do you think are the most important ingredients for success in what you do?
“I am absolutely convinced that one must understand that business is done between people and not companies. Customer relationships are the key to success. It is with your relationships that you move on. Brands can come and go, but the relationship between me as an agent and store owner often continues to another brand if I am forced to change brands. I think I am known for trying to do everything for my customers, everything that is in my power. That I am very accessible and approachable.”
What is your industry like today and what does the development look like going forward?
“Now, as I said, I think we are on the other side of the pandemic and hope that everything comes loose.”