Sunday, July 3, 2022

Superette Co-Founder Rickie Dee on Starting a Business, Making the Mistakes Count & Her Ultimate Capsule Wardrobe

Covid-19 hasn’t been great for any retailer, but as Superette co-founder Rickie Dee tells Capsule, it’s all about getting on with it, keeping things fresh and having faith in the vision. Here she offers her tips for anyone thinking about starting a business, the inside word about Superette’s brand-new store in Auckland’s new Commercial Bay precinct, and her top picks for the ultimate capsule wardrobe.

Can you tell us a little of the story of Superette? 

My business partner James and I started the business in 2002 when we were just 21. We had this idea to collect pieces we loved with the intention of selling them in an industrial space complete with cafe on Drake Street in Freemans Bay. It was quite a far out idea as we were so young but at the same time I think that worked in our favour. We never over-thought anything and worked around the clock to bring our dream to life. Over the last 18 years we’ve built up Superette slowly and steadily, it’s never been rushed. We are also open to adapting and changing our brand and product mix which is essential in today’s ever-changing retail environment. It’s important to stay fresh and relevant.

What are some of the biggest learnings from starting a business that you can share? 

It’s been quite the journey and we have learnt so much along the way. A lot of our learnings come from making mistakes first and building on them. We love what we do so we always manage to find a solution to the problem and move on. Starting a business is not easy and certainly a lot of constant hard work. You never turn off. As our business grew we learnt that we certainly couldn’t do everything and we need to build a great team behind us to help achieve our goals. We are so lucky to have an incredible Superette team to share our journey with. 

Rickie’s ultimate capsule wardrobe right now

Clockwise: Camilla & Marc Bailey Blazer, $799 Superette Boyfriend Pocket Shirt, $199, F+H Jewellery Fleetwood Cross Earrings, $199, Agolde Riley High Rise Straight Crop, $349, Superette LA Knit, $349

You must be so excited to open the new store! Has it been nice to have something to focus on during lockdown? 

We are so excited! We first signed on to the project in November 2017 so it’s been a while but it’s all come together and we couldn’t be happier. Majority of the planning was done prior to lockdown so it was a bit of a waiting game until we could get back into the physical space and actually start setting the store up ready for open. 

How has Covid affected the business, and have you had to do any “pivoting” now we’re out the other side?

Covid was something that we never imagined would ever happen. Having 48 hours to close the stores without knowing when exactly they would open again was so strange and to be honest a bit scary. However, in true Superette fashion our team pulled together to just get on with things and create new opportunities. In Level 3 we introduced a new concept called ‘Superette Takeaways’, it was our way to bring Superette to our customers at home with different ways to shop including our traditional direct to door online delivery service, a Call & Collect option for those who wish to swing by their local store for contactless pick-up and a new Tour the Store service where you can video call any of our stores to get expert advice on sizing, brands, and fabrications. It’s a project that was relevant during the lockdown but is also something that we are continuing on with as we have seen how much our customers have loved it! 

What guides you when selecting products for Superette? 

There are a few different factors that come in to play when we’re buying for the season ahead. It’s a constant battle between head and heart. We use reports from previous buys to analyse data and work out what is working for our customers and to make sure we have all our categories covered. There are also moments where we just fall totally in love with something and we know our customers will too!

Superette’s Winter Commercial Bay Campaign

Do you have any advice for women who are thinking about taking the plunge and starting their own business, or turning a side hustle into their full time job?

Prepare for a rollercoaster! You’ve got to be in it through highs and lows and weather the storm. In the beginning stages of building a company or brand you have to do every role and wear a tonne of different hats. If you’re not willing to do that, it’s not going to work out. Looking back on our 21-year-old selves in our first store on Drake Street it was all go but we never once thought “are we doing everything perfectly”, we just went with it and learnt from our mistakes along the way. Later on you earn that flexibility and are able to invest and employee people 

What’s day-to day-life like for you?

Crazy! With three kids and a business it can get pretty hectic but I wouldn’t have it any other way. My day starts with school drop off and from then I’m either off to one of our stores to catch up with the team there or off to the office. It’s full steam ahead from there meeting with everyone from our buying and marketing teams through to our people experience team and my business partner James. I also try to squeeze in a few sessions with my personal trainer throughout the week. It’s become a really important part of my week and helps me to zone out and take my mind off things for a moment. Evenings are all about family in our house, we love hearing about the kids’ days and just taking some time to unwind. 

What’s your favourite thing available at Superette right now? 

Gosh too many! Every time I’m in store I find another item that I have to get my hands on. If I had to name one, our new Ena Pelly New York Biker Jacket is top of my wishlist. 

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