Introducing the People Behind Wemanage Group: Cristina Cucca, Wemanage’s Head of Wholesale
A project by Wemanage Group
Introducing Meet The Team: Wemanage Group’s deep dive into the professional backgrounds of our mighty team members.
The fourth of our many mighty team members telling us a bit of her professional experience is Cristina Cucca, Wemanage’s Head of Wholesale.
My name is Cristina and I’m Wemanage’s Head of Wholesale.
Tell us about your role.
I have been working for Wemanage since November 2019. I’ve worked for years in the wholesale business as a brand manager and area manager, I am now in charge of the strategy behind the international distribution of all the brands in the Wemanage portfolio.
How did you get into the world of wholesale?
My path started out in the field of design and product, with a master’s degree in Fashion Design at Politecnico di Milano. But right after university, I realized I was interested in creating a bridge between the creativity that I understood and had also studied, with commercialisation. In order to test waters, I started working in a small company to work on commercial development in a very junior role, and then I joined a company that at the time was a start-up but then grew into one of the most important showrooms worldwide, 247showroom. When I joined, we were a very small team and worked there for 10 years, then essentially starting in the development area related to Italy and then devoting my attention to the international market. 247showroom grew quickly, so this allowed me to enter the international reality of wholesale distribution also through big international brands. Specifically, when I moved to the international market, I worked as a manager of all of Northern Europe and I spent the last 3 years working on the Middle Eastern market before moving to Wemanage.
What attracted you to Wemanage?
So right from the beginning, having worked for a very long time in a showroom, commercial development is one of the last steps, the growth of what is your brand portfolio within the area, gives you less vision of the whole picture. What I wanted to do was to go back to the initial idea and work on the brand commercial strategy thanks to my experience but also thanks to the connection of the strategic assets, that are bringing together at 360 degrees the dynamics that lead to the success of a brand. And I have seen in Wemanage this peculiarity but also the fact that it is a group where the whole process is potentially taken care of, there are dynamics that lead you to see all the phases of a brand and it is really interesting. And this gives you not only a great mental elasticity but also a speed in understanding the mechanisms because the colleagues of the communication or style office are there with you. So you get to interact and compare ideas with others.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to do your job?
Document yourself and learn a lot. Something that was helpful to me was studying the geography of the various locations and knowing the various economic mechanisms of the various regions and countries. For example, when I worked with the Middle East, there were some unavoidable dynamics. To visit and to know the stores is crucial — some dynamics are only clear when you experience the stores yourself.
So, study every aspect of fashion, the brand in question, the hype brands, the ones that are growing and the reasons for the growth. Read all about fashion, about new trends, read the brand through that. Slowly then the process will become automatic especially growing up. In an initial phase, you have to test, see, experiment to connect the dots of the vision. And then going into that vision you have to be empathetic with the market. Because in the end, you have to have this empathic ability to understand and report feedback to the brand to help it grow and use all these factors to make a difference.
Pros and cons of your job?
Of course, satisfaction is when your brand grows in the market exponentially! But being able to make it work in the marketplace is when you can even find the right stores for the brand and the stores themselves are satisfied, building the bridge between the brand and the final customer. That’s definitely a satisfaction.
As for the negative side, obviously, there is no control over everything, so there are situations where there are difficulties in entering the market because there are peculiarities or there are situations such as covid, which create extreme difficulty and are frustrating.
How do you see the marketplace changing given that many brands are relying on a more B2C (business to consumer) approach?
Obviously, this year brands have wanted to focus on the B2C relationship and it has helped them build a relationship with their audience, with their consumers. And in a phase where stores have struggled, many emerging brands have struggled to enter the market. So certainly the direct to consumer approach was more successful this year because it reached the customer through direct communication channels. On the other hand, the store is not only a physical place — it becomes also a brand ambassador. In the end, when you enter a store you enter a place that guarantees you an experience, but it also helps you to understand, thanks to the set of brands, where and how to position a brand within the market. This not only helps you to grow in terms of brand awareness (because you are inside a container that can amplify your reach) and especially if you are an emerging, certain stores act as a lever and a showcase for the brands.
So, I would say to an emerging brand not to focus on a wholesale-only strategy because in fact direct to consumer will give you a better connection with the customer and the possibility to react promptly to the market feeds. But I would also suggest growing with key stores that represent 100% of what the brand is and this helps you to strengthen your direct channel and to structure the brand awareness through the stores’ endorsement.
Find out more on Wemanage Group