Yasmin Sewell is a British-born, Brazilian-raised fashion consultant of Lebanese heritage who is now an Australian citizen with a faint American accent, due to the fact that she lived in Los Angeles for a year when she was six years old. Her company is one of the world's leading retail, fashion and lifestyle consultancies. Yasmin Sewell Ltd fuses cutting-edge creativity with quantifiable commerce to consistently define the proverbial next big trend. Founded in 2008, their internationally renowned team combines over three decades of experience, uniting product direction and brand development with a trend-forecasting eye for the largest global luxury brands, emerging designers, mass and luxury retailers. Specialising in brand management and bespoke retail concepts that range from entire department store reinventions to revolutionary e-commerce platforms, this full-service agency continues to directly influence the purchases of consumers on a global scale. Aimed at emerging designers & brands, Yasmin Sewell Ltd provides consultancy to a select few on a 6 month basis free of charge. The mentoring program is focused on the retail side of these burgeoning businesses and they assist in a variety of decisions to build commercial appeal and increase sales. Sewell is one of the most respected and well-known fashion buyers in Britain, and is something of a celebrity in her homeland of Australia. Her talent for picking fashion winners is rather prodigious: she was all over Christopher Kane the second he graduated, and was the first to champion ACNE in the UK. Her latest discoveries are numerous. It's admirable that she gives her time for free to young designers. Yasmin has exquisite taste, and her eye for what women want is impeccable.
She is the creative consultant for Liberty and in an interview at the Liberty press day, Yasmin agreed to be interrogated about her about her life and career, how she came to develop her excellent good taste and end up exercising her buying prowess in the top fashion stores of London:
"I left school at 15. I wanted to be free. I was rebellious. The teachers always said 'She has SO much potential.' I thought - What the fuck do they know? The truth is I didn't know what motivation was."
"My teacher Mrs. Nichols changed my life. She put me forward for a job with McGrath Partners estate agents. John, the guy who owned it, was a 26 year old self-made millionaire and motivational speaker. I got the job as an office assistant. Within three days everything I thought about life turned around. The job became my higher education. I don't know where I'd be without it. I learned everything about business and running a company. By the time I left when I was 18 I was helping John run the company. Today he is a billionaire."
"I call those days my Gloria Estefan period. I was a Lebanese girl in Sydney. I had waist length curly hair and my figure was more curvaceous than it is today and I wore conservative suits to work. I shaved all my hair off when I was 19 and became the door bitch of a nightclub. After that only the kind of guys I liked would whistle at me in the street."
"The single biggest event of my teens was the moment I fell in love with Rufus Sewell. Three days after I shaved my hair off I was sitting in the Pacific Blue Room, a hot restaurant on Oxford Street in Sydney, when Kiefer Sutherland walked in with this weird looking guy. He had these big, big eyes. He was staring at me, and I was like 'who is this weird guy?' Then a few minutes later I looked back at him, and that was it. It was love. That man was Rufus Sewell. A week later I had moved into his hotel. He was making a movie called Dark City. We became inseparable. Three months later I moved to London. That was it. I was 20."
"London was all about building a career. Interning. I liked fashion, but I didn't know what aspect of it. I worked on the shop floor at Browns. I was just discovering my personal style. Then Rufus and I went to New York. I interned at Harpers Bazaar with Tonne Goodman. Then back in London I worked with Alison Edmond at Harpers and Queen as bookings editor."
"Browns inspired me at retail, but I felt they had a snobbish attitude to service that was a bit old-school. Well it was 1995. I thought to myself 'something is missing here'. John McGrath trained me in service - he is revolutionary. No pretension. For him good service had to be efficient, co-operative and about making the customer feel fantastic."
"My 'Eureka' moment came when a Sydney boutique called Museum asked me to buy some clothes for them. So I just made a few calls and did it without thinking. Buying the clothes was such a buzz. There I was picking a dress someone would want six months later. Someone will buy it and it will make them happy."
"That period made me. Within a few months I had found a shop that looked like a fashion design studio. It was upstairs, you had to ring a bell to get in and when you got there you could hang out as long as you wanted. I was 22. It took 18 months to launch. I called it Yasmin Cho. Cho is the name of my best school friend. People called me Yasmin Cho for years. The store was about embracing the avant-garde of the time. We were selling Susan Ciancolo, Imitation of Christ. A.F Vandervorst."
"I remember seeing Rick Owens in the back corner of some dodgy showroom in Paris in 1998. His jackets were just amazing. Now he is one of the best-selling designers in the world. I was surprised that seeing and spotting and getting these designers seemed so easy to me. Was no one else seeing what I was seeing? After a while I realised I must have a good eye. I had no history as a buyer. How was I supposed to know?"
"I had no rules, no boss, no one saying 'look at the sales of last season.' It was just about love."
"With Yasmin Cho I took a lot of risks. Some didn't pay off and in the end I failed. I had the wrong advisors and lost the business. I was screwed over. I let it happen. Failure was a privilege. Now when it comes to business I don't let people mess me around."
"Experience breeds caution. But it doesn’t mean the cowl neck that didn't sell in ’99 won’t sell in 2009. You never really know if something is going to work. But when I was at Browns from 2005 through 2008, and first saw Christopher Kane, I knew. If something doesn't look like it will work, you've got to push it. Call the top five fashion journalists and the top ten customers and make it happen."
"The secret of being a good buyer? Being tuned in. You’ve got to know what is happening. I get inspiration from what I haven't seen. I can sense when a trend is coming to an end. I listen to journalists. Big customers are influenced by magazines. Sometimes I buy things I don't love but that the press love because I know customers will buy them."
"My biggest success as a buyer was backing ACNE back in 2005. I had just arrived at Browns and when I walked into my office for the first time there was a pile of about 200 look books. I remember throwing them all away except ACNE. That was a good example of liking it because I hadn't seen anything else like it. Their aesthetic didn't exist then, and I knew that as SOON AS I SAW IT that it was going to be huge. And it was."
"You'll never see me in leggings and a tank top. I'm very petite – a size 6 – but I'm pear shaped with not the longest legs in the world, a 23 inch waist and a D-cup. You could say I have hidden curves. So I dress to accentuate my best bits which are my long neck and long, thin arms. Me in a pair of Sass & Bide skinny jeans? Yikes! Me in my long Sophia Kokosalaki dress? Yeah!"
"At one point in my life I listened ONLY to Marvin Gaye for three years. Today I'm rocking a 'portfolio career'. I work for Liberty, do a TV show for Fashionair, mentor young designers and consult for designer labels and retail brands. I'm pretty happy.
She's one of those impeccable women who never goes unnoticed. The kind that makes anything she wears accentuate her curly hair and dark exotic Lebanese beauty, Yasmin Sewell has a very Parisian sensibility to her style - a look that isn't at all manufactured or contrived, a look that other women want to copy, a look that Sewell has translated into big business. Based in London for the past eighteen years, she is a regular on global Best Dressed Lists, a two-time judge of the British Fashion Awards and a blogger at Vogue. Yasmin has just added mother to her list of achievements with the arrival of baby Knox Rocket Robinson.
"My life is filled with so much love since having Knox - it's been an incredible experience. The shift has been in putting his needs first and working the rest out after those are met."
Aimed at emerging designers & brands, Yasmin Sewell Ltd provides consultancy to a select few on a 6 month basis free of charge. The mentoring program is focused on the retail side of a burgeoning business, they will assist in a variety of decisions to build commercial appeal and increase sales.
To be part of this mentoring scheme please contact them with some information about your business at email@example.com and a member of their team will be in touch.
Read more: www.smh.com.au
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The company website of Yasmin Sewell's consultancy business in London, England.
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