Not only does she know a thing or two about fashion and marketing, she is a writer too: meet our new Group Marketing and Creative Director, Deb Bee. Having only been with us for six weeks, Deb already has a compelling vision of how she plans to win over hearts and minds for Harvey Nichols, and, as she is no stranger to our brand DNA, we are in good hands under her guidance. We caught up with Deb to discuss her ideas and hopes for the future.
Tell us about your background and how you ended up at Harvey Nichols?
I studied fashion journalism at Central Saint Martins and worked in magazines and newspapers - such as Vogue, The Telegraph, The Guardian and Cosmopolitan - up until 15 years ago, when I started doing Harvey Nichols magazine and subsequently Harrods magazine. Harrods made me their Director of Creative Marketing and that is how I started getting involved in the retail side of things rather than writing and fashion editing. However, I wanted to come back to Harvey Nichols, so I reached out and said ‘I really want to come work here!’
Why were you so drawn to Harvey Nichols?
When I used to work here before, I came across a coat on the fourth floor. I wasn’t even looking for a coat. It was expensive. I’d never even heard of the designer. But I couldn’t resist that coat. And I’ve worn it ever since, to weddings and funerals to parties to meetings – you name it – and I’ve never seen anyone else with one. That’s what’s amazing about Harvey Nichols. You can discover new, irresistible things that no one else has.I have this sense of belonging at Harvey Nichols, and a true sense of pride to be part of this unique chain of stores that has such personality. I felt it again the other night when I was walking in the Knightsbridge store at 7.30pm – everyone was really relaxed. The assistants were really friendly and genuine with the customers. There was a sense of community on the shop floor that is unusual and seems unique to Harvey Nichols.
What’s your experience so far returning to Harvey Nichols in this position?
Everyone loves Harvey Nichols. Your average consumer doesn’t have much love for luxury retail, but people always have a little smile when it comes to Harvey Nichols. The brand has a sense of fun and irreverence, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. My plan is to use that playful personality and get it out and about as much as possible.
What’s your marketing approach for the future?
I do not necessarily want to rely on ad campaigns like we’ve done before – our previous ad-campaigns have certainly put across an attitude, but I think we need to be more strategic. Rather than putting all our money behind one big great campaign, it’s about bringing our creative in-house and agency team together and being clever in the way we talk to our customers and the channels through which we reach them. Creative ideas come from the strangest places, so we need to create an environment where people can come up with suggestions, because the most daft suggestions may end up being the most genius ideas.
What else do you want to emphasise in our brand messaging?
I want to bring back the ‘fun of shopping’ to people. There’s a lot to be said for buying everything online, but actually there’s no joy in it and I think shopping is quite fun. I went shopping with a girlfriend after Christmas – we didn’t have anything to buy but we just went for the sake of it. We grabbed coffee and tried stuff on and had a blast! I think we’ve forgotten how to do that. Shopping used to be an event in itself, but we’re so practical now: we look online and think transactional rather than having fun.