NellyRodi in USA : Luc-Dominique Demettre testifies.Interviews
What are your current responsibilities with NellyRodi?
I’m the Vice President of the American branch in New York City, which was set up in 2017. I opened the branch after first gaining experience with NellyRodi’s Parisian office.
What's a typical day like for you?
My day is organized into two stages. Mornings start with checking in with the teams in Paris on the latest trendbooks, current missions and new methods the agency has created as well as sharing new requests from our clients. The rest of the morning we focus on clients located on the American east coast and in Canada. In the afternoon I always touch base with our Development Manager in Los Angeles and with our partners in New York City and Chicago.
My daily routine, like that of so many Americans, has completely changed over the course of a year. It’s been a year without any physical contact with my clients and even the people in the United States I work with every day. My days are built around with Zoom meetings, which let me stay close to all our clients.
What types of clients do you work with?
Our list of distribution clients includes names such as Nordstrom, Target and Kohl’s. More specifically, we work with their fashion and home décor departments. We also work with internationally known American fashion brands and luxury houses.
And, of course, we have very close relationships with the big players in the beauty industry who are part of the Estée Lauder, L’Oréal and Shiseido groups as well as makeup and skin care manufacturers and perfume brands.
How has the American creative industry market changed in the last 12 months?
Since the beginning of the health crisis, working environments in the United States have changed drastically, and telecommuting has become the new normal. Physical meetings with agencies are still not allowed and, in any case, when I’m in Zoom meetings with clients, half of the participants have usually left New York and now work from all over the United States. But not one meeting happens without clients telling us how eager they are to work as a team in the same office, to travel again, to attend trade shows … In the past year, our clients’ product development timelines have seemed to fluctuate more and more. Some are running later than usual and others are ahead of schedule. More than ever, brands want to understand how consumer expectations are evolving. Being in contact with the NellyRodi teams gives them a breath of fresh air and a big dose of inspiration.
The pandemic has had an enormous impact on cultural activities and on business. The abrupt lockdown on March 15, 2020 closed Manhattan for many long months. Museums and cultural institutions laid off up to 80% of their staffs. Many galleries shut their doors. The response to COVID, however, was increased creativity. Virtual spaces and online conversations created strong bonds in New York’s cultural world. Hybrid solutions for reopening are multiplying, even though so many artists still don’t have visas or revenue. But New York will bounce back quickly – Governor Cuomo just announced the kickoff of a program of more than 300 open-air cultural events from 20 February to September across New York State.
For business, the term “retail apocalypse” is often used for New York City, and that started before the COVID-19 emergency. The health crisis did, in fact, have a devastating effect on retail, but also on all the restaurants and bars. New York City has been transformed; every week I take a retail tour in a different neighborhood and most of the stores are empty … In general, business now happens online, and it’s extraordinary to see the number of packages delivered to reception desks in the city’s apartment buildings. A lot of New Yorkers have shifted to online shopping. Business is also going on in new regions in the United States where remote workers have moved (Upstate New York and the Hamptons, for example). Given the situation, many labels want to reinvent themselves, and they contact us to help them rethink their collection schedules, edit their collections or bring fresh inspiration to their teams.
2020 was also strongly influenced by the Black Lives Matter movement, prompting considerable changes for brands, fashion and beauty retailers and entrepreneurship in general. These changes have motivated brands to be transparent about diversity in their personnel, from creative departments up to management. Some beauty retailers are now committed to dedicating a percentage of their retail space to emerging, diversity-based beauty brands. Now the big groups need to show an open attitude when recruiting.
Has Joe Biden's election added a new dynamic?
The new President has to deal with a country that’s divided like never before. I don’t know how it will be possible to bring together these two different Americas that can no longer communicate. It’s going to take time and finding a social project that unites people and rekindles the American dream. America needs to find stability and to control the virus in order to restart its economy and service-based consumption.
The next few weeks will be decisive for the new administration to get approval of the economic stimulus plan as well as public works projects to bring infrastructures up to standard – an agenda recent presidents have never been able to fulfill.
What haven't we said about NellyRodi in the USA?
The American fashion market is very driven by color and our Color Departments and especially the Color Intelligence Trendbook have been remarkably successful in the States. You can’t imagine the number of compliments we get on this particular topic.
The new digital format for our trendbooks launched in July 2020 has also been a big boost in developing our American business. I’m optimistic for 2021!