There is so much business success related to the name of this incredible woman. Having once built Carrera y Carrera into the brand we know now Maria Eugenia, an undoubtable expert in luxury, is leading a number of important initiatives such as Luxury Observatory IE/Mastercard, the Rising Tide Europe Investment Fund encouraging women to grow in that field. In our conversation we spoke about buidling fashion brands, how to succeed in the luxury industry, the role of education as well as about education, style and the role of family.
“What keeps me moving is the conviction that we are here to create an impact. And this I have acquired at my family, through education. And it is there… and it moves me.”
“I was exploring guided by ambition of creating an impact. And education of course also had a big role.”
“I was always thinking how can I get to the next step. As what gets you here won’t get you to the next place”
“Business success, first of all, depends on teamwork. It is key to have people who share your goals. Those who share your values. And also who have those strength that you do not have, so that as a team we are stronger than alone. Just like the African Proverb says “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go as a team”.
“It is key to define where you want to get setting ambitious goals and planning ahead. This ability evolves with experience”.
“I value diversity. I saw how diverse teams are stronger than the homogeneous ones. It takes more time to build but it is much stronger and innovative”.
“It is very difficult for me to work with someone who is not true to my core values. Honesty and Commitment in my case is the minimum”.
“Those who want to achieve success and change the world exist in all generations. It is not that the current generation wants to work less. It is simply that young people today want to own their schedule, their time, their calendar.”
“For young people today it is key to spend their time on something they believe in, something that is aligned with their values. And I believe this is great! As they will be working with passion.”
“Passion brings dedication.”
“Companies need to make sure they are good enough to attract young people”.
“As a young person when deciding which job to take it is key to think with whom you would be able to learn and thrive. Learn not only about business but also about life.”
“The first job out of school is important and the first boss. I had a very good boss who was my mentor when I joined Loewe. Not only in business, he taught me a lot about business but most important about life. With time I came to realize I was lucky to meet him at the beginning of my career. To have him there to support me and help me out. he contributed to shaping what I have done later in life.”
“Sometimes I was too focused on destination. If I could go back I would advise myself to enjoy more the journey”.
On Fashion and brands
“To succeed in luxury brands it is key to have a combination of right brain and left brain. And probably that’s two people – one driving creativity and the other driving the business. And that’s what is required by this festinating industry”.
“It is two different ways of thinking about work. One is more intuitive and the other deductive.”
“Creativity needs to be working all the time. Innovation is one of the key drivers of growth.”
“Commercial part of the business is not only about the commerce itself. It is not about having a Commercial director “who will sell everything”. It is about markets. Resources, how are we going to pursue supply chain. Control systems? It is much more than business development.”
“Many start managing alone and remaining alone is not the answer.
“We need to turn it (creativity) into profitability. And it’s working together what is turning great brands.”
“If we look at successful brands they all have two people: Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, Miucci Prada and Patrizio Bertelli. It is a combination of the two sides if the brain.”
TIPS for the Fashion CEO
“To be successful as a CEO of a fashion brand there are three key things that need to be done well.
Define the strategy – core competence, market and identify the blue ocean for that brand.
Attract, and motivate the right team.
Building the culture to build the company according to the values. It is both difficult and key.
“To be successful as a CEO of a fashion brand it is important to be respectful about the brand identity. Especially when you come to the cross-roads and when you are told that something that has been selling well needs to be changed”.
“Creativity anticipates trends and you (CEO) have to be prepared to change. The two roles have to reinforce one another.”
Reflection for a DESIGNER
“It is key that management of the company has all of the respect for the creativity. As it is creativity what continuously updates the DNA of the brand.”
“Each brand has to define its DNA and normally it reflects the values or identity or dreams connected to the designer”.
“Luxury industry is about building a dream. Tangible side of the product we all understand. However, it is the intangible part that makes us dream. And this happens when there is a creativity and innovation and a specific moment of time when the society is dreaming of better times”.
“When Dior presented his new collection during the World War II the full skirts were symbolizing the new era of prosperity. Armani presented the clothes for women who started going to work. Both of them were reflecting the dreams and aspirations of a generation”.
“We are not isolated. Artists are normally those who notice and reflect social and societal changes. They need to be connected to the world.”
“Fashion is one the second most contaminating industries in the world after fossil fuel energy. Normally we would think about supply chain. However, there is a number of aspects: dies, how the raw material is grown, all of the washing that it involves. And of course, waste.”
“Fast fashion encourages overconsumption. Sometimes people throw away clothes not even using them. With the price label on top.”
“In our world of limited resources waste is key to address either producing less or reusing resources. It represents an interesting opportunity of getting into the circular economy”.
“Copenhagen Fashion Summit is doing a lot of training about this. Some fast fashion companies take leadership in the area”.
Regarding Women and leadership
“Education is always opening something new.”
“There is a certain imbalance in the world. Women represent only 20% of all entrepreneurs in the world, and investment it is even less – about 7%”.
“Together with my friend from Switzerland we wanted to create impact and decided to create a small fund with small contributions for women to take an opportunity of being an angel investor and learn about it through practice. That was the start of Rising Tide”.
“The Rising Tide 1 united 100 women co-investors in Europe. Rising Tide 2 had 120 women from different countries investing together. Now we are about to launch Rising Tide 3.”
“We feel there are more and more women who learn and learning everyone is having fun. Some of us (participating women) will be Deal Leaders deciding on the investments. What is important for us is that it is changing things around”.
“We have paradigms of what we want to do and what we believe is possible. If you do nothing to change this it will never change.”
“There is actually an interesting story of a Norwegian boy who was growing up thinking that he can not become a Prime Minsiter as in his country it has been always a woman.”
“Having never seeing something happening might be a mental stopper to achieve”.
On Style and Lifestyle
“The way we style and dress evolves with time as that is how we feel and see ourselves.”
“Today for me dress code needs to be simple. It is the word that comes to mind. With simplicity comes another word – comfort. And it means many things… good textile, good pattern, .”
“I have lots of black jackets and blazers. A lot of white shirts and t-shirts and jeans.”
“Comfort and beauty have to work for you. And style evolves with time and you want to project the new you. With our dress code we are telling others who we are.”
“When I look at my closet I see how different eras were connected with certain brands. It was part of discovery of myself. Loewe, Carrera y Carrera. I was very lucky to work with beautiful brands. And many of them I still use.”
“My family and nature give me energy.”
“I succeed not in spite of my family but because of my family. I do spend a lot of time with them.”
“The way I enjoy nature evolved with time. Now I do a lot of hiking. And rediscovering nature that is so close to Madrid. Nature gives me a lot of energy.”
“The city that gives me lots of good memories is Boston. I did my MBA, my husband studied there. My son, who is a musician has also been studying there. It brings up in my memory lots of good family moments. Good things of moments in my life thriving and learning and improving.”
“What always makes me smile? My children! Children are the promise of the future. They always make me smile.”
“My eldest son – music composer working in LA. My middle son – in Business. Based in Toronto working for GoBeyond a global platform for angel investing. And the youngest son – In Boarding school in England. Having kids is challenging but life is about legacy and family is part of that. This is what life is about.”