I have always loved talking to different people and my Girls on Film series is an extension of this. I really enjoy introducing you to a range of people to give you different insights and perspectives on everyday life. Today I am in conversation with the business beauty, Farah Koodoruth. We talk fashion and careers, this one is full of knowledge, so grab a straw and drink it all in.
BP: Farah, welcome to Girls on Film, are you excited?
BP: Have you ever done an interview before?
FK: No I haven't, this is my first time
BP: Well there is a first time for everything, it’s fun. SO, it would be great for my readers to get to know you a little bit better.
FK: I was born here, but my Dad is from Mauritius and my Mum is from Germany
BP: Good old Barbara
FK: Yes, Barbara. I work at Matches Fashion, where I have been, coming up to 2 years. I have always been into fashion. Well, I got into fashion after my A-Levels.
BP: Did you do anything fashion related at A-Level?
FK: Oh my word, no, not at all. That was the turning point for me, where I decided that I needed to do fashion. I was doing ICT, Sociology...
BP: WHOAH. Well, I guess when it comes to fashion we do have to understand people, so it may have weirdly helped.
FK: It did shape what I wanted to do, and I guess it was a good insight.
BP: After your A-Levels what did you do?
FK: I did a foundation here, at UCA Epsom, I hadn’t even heard of Fashion Promotion until we had to try the 6 pathways; Art, Graphics, Fashion Promotion that I realised and found out what it was and then I internally progressed onto the degree here.
BP: I never did a foundation, would you say that it is a good thing to do, and is worth it?
FK: 100%, it sorted my life out completely. Who knows what I would have done without it.
BP: You are super hard working and dedicated, were you always like that?
FK: Yes, absolutely. I think I get it from my Mum because she is German she is so on it.
FK: She is efficient in ALL areas. She wants to get it done NOW, the quickest way possible. She wants solutions, don't come to her with problems
BP: She wants the answers!! So it must be a weird culture clash at home? Growing up did that shape you?
FK: Well my Dad is very laid back, so they bounce off each other. It is a very English household, obviously, they speak their own languages. Dad speaks Creole with his family, which is broken French, and my Mum speaks German. However, in England, they speak English. They are not very religious either.
BP: What religion/faith do they have?
FK: Dad is Muslim and Mum is Protestant.
BP: Whoah culture clash.
FK: Dad has most of his family here, whereas Mum is on her own here. So I suppose that is why Muslim is the dominance at home. That is why my sister Thara and I are Muslim.
BP: Is it a big part of your identity?
FK: Not really, I think I am too logical. However, we do celebrate Eid for Dad, and all the other Christian holidays for Mum.
BP: All the holidays!!
BP: So you touched on that you worked at Matches, what was your career like before Matches, was it always luxury fashion?
FK: I feel like my job has always reflected where I am. Whilst doing my A-Levels I worked at Sainsbury’s for 3 years. Mum works there, so she got me in and that was a really stable job.
BP: Was that just Tills?
FK: Checkouts. Yeah, it was a really good first job, because you are always talking to people and picking up on body language and people skills.
BP: Retail is really good for that. You can always tell when someone hasn’t had any retail experience. It breaks the ice, instantly and you are all the better, it stops you being awkward.
BP: After Sainsburys?
FK: I moved to Ted Baker, I was in the middle of my foundation year, and I thought I needed to be in fashion, get my foot in somehow. I wasn’t there for that long. I moved to Matches halfway through the first year.
BP: So you were at Ted Baker for 10 months, that isn’t bad.
FK: It was okay, just on the floor retail. It gave me an insight into working in a fashion retail environment, then Matches came along.
BP: What was the interview process for Matches like, was it tough?
FK: I thought it was going to be a lot harder than it was. It is much tougher now, they have to go through so much, so many stages, so many interviews and questions. They have to style someone online. However, I do think it is who you know. At the time, my boyfriend's football agent, he was the husband of one of the managers at MaxMara, which is next-door to Matches, she looked at my CV but didnt have any openings, but passed it on to Matches. She didn’t have to do that but was so lovely to have done that, they were interested. They phoned me and I came in for an interview, then I had another form of management and a trial day on a Sunday. That went well and I got the job, it was easier I guess than it is for others.
BP: I suppose, but also you guys are after a certain type of person, do you feel like there is an exception of you at work, do you have to present yourself a certain way?
FK: Definitely, you have been efficient in all areas, int he way you look and act. Don’t make mistakes, and if you do, is learn from them.
BP: Something that I learnt, and if you do make mistakes don't hide them, my first manager was terrifying at the time- we are now super close- but always be honest, otherwise it makes worse.
FK: Yeah, take responsibility for it, I mean we are all human at the end of the day, my old manager always used to kick off the staff meeting, with we are not saving lives. So don’t put so much pressure on yourself. I will say that I feel very comfortable in my position now.
BP: So run me through a typical Matches day, obviously a very different experience say to Topshop.
FK: The same sort of principle, but times 100. Everything has to be luxury, everything you do has to be luxury. Not to disregard the details, like hangers the wrong way. We do the usual things, like mopping and hoovering. It is much more personal with the client than in normal retail. You have so much more responsibility as well. You have access to more, on our iPads, we can process orders, any time any place. As well as dealing with your own clients, you have walk-ins, so it's like dealing with three things at once, which is why I love it, crazy all the time. Calling stuff in, and the usual things that we all have to do. All whilst maintaining standards, and maintaining the store. Also helping your colleagues, if they have a big sale, help them wrap.
BP: Your packaging is beautiful, it’s really really nice, do you think that helps?
FK: People expect it, it is luxury, our competitors, I mean Net-A-Porter I have never ordered from them but I’m sure their packaging is nice.
BP: It’s okay…
FK: Our online is nicer.
BP: Yeah and the delivery is so expensive, whereas Matches I think is free over £250?
FK: They have lots of different promotion on. But, if you were to pay it is worth it, the marbled boxes are beautiful if you do pay you can have 90-minute delivery - which I think we were the first to do it- for £18. The customer at Matches can afford it, and typically need a gown or something for the same night. If you are within the M25 you can get it to your house in 90 minutes, the next is nominated evening delivery for £12. I’m in charge of all that, so if you get it wrong for the customer it is a big deal. SO you have to be on the ball, otherwise, you are not doing your job properly.
BP: Do you feel pressure in your job? Or is it comfortable responsibility?
FK: Comfortable responsibility, I am passionate about my job, I really really love it. I feel that I want to work for them for a while. I have been there 2 years, and we have had so many newbies that I have had to train them, that is when you know you have gotten to that point you feel comfortable with it. When you can face a brand new problem that is when you know you are fine.
BP: So if someone wants to get into luxury, and they came to Matches, what would you suggest they buy?
FK: The little Marcie Chloé bags are nice. They are selling well.
BP: You are into your trainers aren’t you?
FK: Very much,
BP: What would you say is hot right now?
FK: Balenciaga does really well, and Valentino for both women and men. The Balenciaga runners do well and the style is pretty much unisex. So we get both genders buying either gender. They are doing really well. We obviously don’t have everything, there is more online, most of our sales are online, close to 90%. Online you can return it, in the store you just get a credit note.
BP: I think that Matches has a good buy, I look at Matches all the time, and I think what they have from each brand is unique to Matches. It feels very curated and considered.
FK: It is much more personal. We are closely connected, we have training days on the shard and everyone is there.
BP: So they listen to you?
FK: Absolutely. They really want out opinions and what is happening in the stores. You hear the buyers and how they have discovered all these new brands, so they are good at bringing up smaller brands.
BP: There are some lower entry-level brands at Matches…
FK: We stock Adidas.
BP: What brands that people don’t know about, do you love.
FK: Raey is good, I don’t think people know that it is our own brand. So good for cashmere and basic pieces, the quality and the cuts. The cuts are really good. So different to a high street, because the cut is so different. They have their own store, recently, so they have had to bring out more products to fill a store.
BP: If you had to distil your passion into a few words? What do you love about your job the most? When you talk about your job you always seem really satisfied.
FK: I just have a really good feeling, when I think about Matches I feel safe and looked after because they really do look after us. The other week they had a wellness week, gave us loads of fruit, in head office, they had massages and wellness activities. It is a great company and it is fashion, I love it.
BP: I love the site, and you guys sell Prada online.
FK: I know everything is online, and some customers wish we had more in store, but the website is really good. They used a specialist for online and they have seen the future.
BP: WOW!! On that note, we should go and live in the future!! Thank you so much for joining me today.
FK: Thank you!
BP: It’s been my pleasure!!