When I set up #MytSmartCookie at the beginning is to write about my friends, peers, people I hired who may never choose CEO as their ultimate career goals, who are clever, and very good at their jobs and without them a business cannot function. I have seen so many bosses who don’t give credit to their teams or steal the bright team member’s idea and said it’s from themselves… I also noticed that in press, often people only interview C levels and any function that may be more in front of the camera and forgetting how crucial it is to have an amazing operation, logistic and production team.
Today I am writing about a lady I respect a lot in this field, Sabrina Barendes, a super sassy logistic boss at Nicholas Kirkwood. With no background in fashion, how she started her career journey and managed shipping and supply chain on track, to ensure customers are happy and receiving correct orders on-time.
When I worked with Sabrina at Kirkwood, it was a tough business period for the brand as NK was just acquired by LVMH and the teams were rather divided. Sabrina was always fair, she was quiet but helpful, we excelled through first few seasons, about 10 months later we started to receive bigger orders, reorders, special projects and trunk-shows from Matches Fashion to Lane Crawford, Bergdorf to Saks and Middle Eastern accounts started to blossom, I always knew that without Sabrina and her team effort, the operation couldn’t be possible, the more sales grow, the more important it is to have a great logistic team. I want to put this spotlight today above this mama boss Sabrina, see our conversation below:
KF: Please share your journey of career, how did you then landed in this big position as Logistic and Supply Chain Director at Nicholas Kirkwood?
SB: I studied International Trade and Languages in France and in the UK and graduated with a Masters degree. I always loved learning languages and I wanted to use them with my job. I landed in Logistics by chance – my first internship was with a Freight company and I really enjoyed it.
Because my degree had such a broad range I didn’t want to be “stuck” in Logistics – I wanted to see if another area of a business would appeal more than Logistics did and when I moved to Paris, I got a job with a small retailer where I was an account manager and I realised I really liked Fashion, Import & Export, seeing the product come to life etc. Then me and my husband moved to the UK and I first worked for a Luxury lighting company again as an Account Manager and then joined a heritage brand working in Logistics within the Leather goods department. That’s when I discovered Production and I LOVED it. Then, one day I got a call from LVMH offering me a position as a Logistics Manager for one of their brand and slowly but surely I built my way up to my current position. I guess my strong points were that I had experience in small companies where you need to be very hands-on, a problem solver and having worked on the supplier side and the client side, then internally as a Sales person and then Logistics/ Prod, it has helped me get a greater understanding of how a business operates, what challenges there are from all stakeholders and I realised I’d much prefer solving issues for customers than selling to them.
KF: In fashion or business in general, logistic department is not well talked about or promoted, often Sales or Marketing get credit when business is booming, what is your view on this and please explain how important to praise your department?
SB: I’m going to put it out there and you know me I’m honest – It used to annoy the hell out of me. I used to think it was so unfair. Credit would only be given to Marketing or Sales team but no one would ever consider thanking and acknowledging Logistics or the Finance department.. Well that is changing finally. Because of the situation in the world right now, people and more importantly businesses are now starting to understand (although I think they always knew somewhat) that Supply Chain is critical to the success of any company. You can have the best sales person in the world, the most beautiful product at the perfect price and 2M followers on Instagram (I’m taking lots of shortcuts here but you get my meaning), without a robust, flexible and agile SC, you will fail. One of my ex boss has told me once that Supply Chain was the backbone of any company and I see it now said and written more and more and it feels right.
Logistics is not only Shipping that’s another mistake people make. Supply Chain involves a lot of different skills (problem solving, organisation and planning, relationship building, negotiation and a lot of patience among other things of course). It is super important to recognise the good work that any department does – your client got their delivery on time? Don’t assume it was straightforward for the team to do. Each customers have their own wishes and processes and more often than not the Logistics department need to manage all different sorts of problems – it’s not a walk in the park, Also where Sales only have their external clients, Logistics have double the amount. We see the other departments of the company as our “clients” too like PR for instance where press samples needed to be sent yesterday to a remote area and either something went wrong with the planning or nobody thought relevant to inform the Logistics department before it was too late so we step in and 9 times out of 10 we succeed, or a Wholesaler only wants to receive full size run so you need to wait until you have all the Production and constantly keep them aware of what’s going on. We are at the end of the process and if someone drops the ball and doesn’t notice, the issue will be discovered at the end ie when Logistics take over) and often, even though fixable, it will involve time and money to fix it– it’s a constant juggling act and that’s what we love, we never get bored but a thank you goes a long way.
KF: How has the pandemic affect the overall supply chain from your experience? Could you give a before and after comparison or view point?
SB: Well, it has certainly highlighted the importance of it. It has forced us to come with better solutions sometimes costly (upfront) like developing DTC but I still feel there is a reluctance to invest in it. It’s still a long way to go. Like if sales and revenue go down why should we pay more for transport or invest in IT/systems? Which is thinking backwards for me. It’s only if you invest in those areas that you will go back stronger. When you look at what happened with PPE or even the shortages of key products at the beginning of the lockdown, without the transportation companies and a common effort from several Supply Chains, we’d still be looking for toilet paper 😊. Personally, because I struggle sometimes to get my point to upper management the fact that this situation is global has helped me give clear examples and apply them to the business by explaining how important it was for the companies to plan, invest, communicate more transparently, get data, analyse it and make conscious decisions rather than just wing it. And it has made people realise (hopefully) that Logistics applies to their ever day life. Who doesn’t plan, negotiate, drives from 1 point to another and make decisions based on fact? This is all Logistics in a nutshell.
KF: I know you are a lady with many talents, so when you are not in fashion, what do you do? Is this a way to relax or you really hope you can pursue something else additional to this fashion career?
SB: 2 things actually. I’m quite spiritual, I don’t believe in religion but in something bigger like the Universe and I try to practice (but not often as I should) meditation and breathing. It has helped me a lot overcoming my anxiety issues. It’s also helped me get to know myself better not the version of myself I thought I was but the real me, deep down. And then, studying business was not what I wanted when I was younger. Very early on, I realised that what I wanted to do for the rest of my life was acting. But family thought it was not the proper way to get money so I gave that dream up but I have been doing it as a hobby for a long time. Then 3yrs ago I decided to give it a chance but it’s tough. It requires a lot of dedication but hopefully it will pay one day.
KF: How has motherhood changed your view on businesses supporting women? and I am sure it has changed a lot since lockdown, do you have any particular policy that you wish businesses can look deeper to support working mothers?
SB: My journey with balancing motherhood and career has not been a straightforward one. For starter, I always said I would not have children (until I met my husband). My career was always #1. It defined me or so I thought. But having said that, I once had someone questioning my “future projects” before they make a decision to hand me over a big project. I didn’t understand it at first then it clicked. I was being asked if I was planning on having kids in the near future and I was shocked. Before that I had never experienced any form of discrimination. How come people can still think that a mother or any parent cannot juggle both?
Anyway long story short, when I had my son I realised a job was just a job. I still love working but my family is much more important. I made the conscious decision to only go for jobs which were not going to damage my mental health like they did before. But also I would not let them. Meaning if I have to leave early because my child is sick I will leave early so I’d seriously would tell businesses to be more flexible, extend maternity cover because at 3 months you don’t want to leave your child (I know I didn’t) and why not support us with childcare costs. The pandemic has also forced businesses into accepting working from home (probably one of the only positive of this year) and I hope this will carry on even after. Finally, I’d say to these companies don’t push women away for fear we will drop you once we have a child. We’ll do the job even better because we have a lot more at stake than you think.
KF: You are French, and we always talked about food and being in England vs food in France. What dish have you missed the most that after years in the UK you still can’t get the real deal here, and if you can share any of your secret recipe that can whip up a dish in 30 minutes?
SB: OOOH loads. Every time I go back to France I bring back a luggage full of food. Cheese, pate and foie gras, I also miss fresh fruits and veg market you go walking on a Sunday morning, the nice crunch of a fresh baguette which doesn’t go stale after a day. I miss African dishes my grandma used to cook.
My quick recipe would be Muffin Frittata from the Hemsley Sisters:
2 large pinches of sea salt
a large pinch of black pepper
3 carrots or 3 courgettes, roughly grated (or a mix of both)
a handful of veg – try chopped red pepper, fennel or peas
1 onion or leek, or some spring onions or fresh chives (dice, chop or snip them finely as you won’t be frying them)
1 large garlic clove, finely diced
any spices or herbs, fresh or dried (we like 1tsp dried oregano and a small handful of fresh parsley)
a large handful of grated hard cheese, such as Cheddar, Gruyère or Parmesan
1. Preheat the oven to fan 190°C/Gas mark 6. Grease a muffin tray well with a little butter/ghee or use paper cases or parchment paper.
2. Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add the salt and pepper, all the grated and chopped vegetables or peas, finely chopped onion or leek, garlic and any spices or herbs.You are looking for a ratio of around 50 per cent egg to 50 per cent raw veg.
3. Pour the mixture into the prepared muffin tray.
4. Bake for 12 minutes, then crumble the cheese on top and turn on the grill. Grill for about a minute until the tops are golden brown. Alternatively, you could stir the cheese into the egg mix, not bother with the grill and just cook in the oven for 14 minutes.
5. To check if they are done, give the muffin tray a wobble – the frittatas should be just set in the middle. You can always put them back in the oven for another 1–2 minutes if you think they need cooking any longer.
6. Remove the frittatas from the tray and leave to cool on a wire rack. Wrap them up in baking or greaseproof paper or pop them in your lunch box for a great snack on the go.
今天，我很高興來分享尼古拉斯·柯克伍德（Nicholas Kirkwood）精品鞋的超級強的物流老闆薩布麗娜·巴倫德斯（Sabrina Barendes）的事業路程，她在這一領域倍受尊敬。在沒有時尚背景的情況下，她如何開始自己的職業生涯，並按計劃管理運輸和供應鏈，以確保客戶滿意並準時收到正確的訂單。
當我在柯克伍德（Kirkwood）與薩布麗娜（Sabrina）工作時，這對品牌來說是一個艱難的商業時期，因為NK剛剛被LVMH收購，並且團隊分散。薩布麗娜（Sabrina）總是很公平，她安靜但樂於助人，我們在最初的幾個季節都表現出色，大約10個月後，我們開始收到來自Matches Fashion到Lane Crawford，Bergdorf到Saks和Middle East的更大訂單，重新訂購，特殊項目和行李箱展示。帳戶開始開花，我一直知道，如果沒有Sabrina和她的團隊的努力，就不可能進行運營，銷售增長越多，擁有一支優秀的物流團隊就越重要。我今天想把這個焦點放在這位厲害媽媽薩布麗娜的上方，請參見下面的對話：
ＳＢ： 我要直接說了，你知道我，我很誠實。我的部門不常受到注意這件事 曾經使我煩惱。我曾經認為這太不公平了。信譽只會授予市場營銷或銷售團隊，而沒人會考慮感謝並認可物流或財務部門。由於當前的世界形勢，人們（更重要的是企業）現在開始了解（儘管我認為他們一直都知道）供應鏈對於任何公司的成功至關重要。您可以擁有世界上最好的銷售人員，最優惠的價格提供最漂亮的產品以及Instagram上的200萬關注者（我在這裡採取了許多捷徑，但您有我的意
物流不僅僅是運輸，這是人們犯的另一個錯誤。供應鏈涉及許多不同的技能（問題解決，組織和計劃，建立關係，談判以及當然還有很多耐心）。認識到任何部門所做的出色工作非常重要-您的客戶準時交貨了嗎？不要以為團隊做起來很簡單。每個客戶都有自己的願望和流程，後勤部門通常需要處理各種不同的問題- 這不是在公園散步，而且在銷售只有外部客戶的情況下，後勤部門的數量卻翻了一番。我們也將公司的其他部門視為PR的“客戶”，例如，昨天需要將印刷樣品發送到偏遠地區，或者計劃出了點問題，或者沒有人認為有相關信息可以在事前通知物流部門。為時已晚，所以我們介入了，成功了10次，有9次成功了，或者批發商只想接受全尺寸運行，因此您需要等待直到所有生產都完成，並不斷讓他們知道發生了什麼。我們處於流程的最後，如果有人丟球而沒有註意到，問題將在最後發現（即，當物流接管時），並且儘管可以解決，但解決該問題通常會花費時間和金錢。 –這是一種持續不斷的雜耍行為，這就是我們的愛，我們從不感到無聊，但謝謝您可以走很長一段路。
我的快速食譜是Hemsley Sisters的Muffin Frittata。