3 questions for ... Priscilla Jokhoo, Business Division Director for the Fédération Française du Prêt à Porter Féminin
As Business Division Director for the Fédération Française du Prêt à Porter Féminin, Priscilla Jokhoo set up and manages the Talents acceleration program which receives support from DEFI. Over the course of a year, five French fashion brands with strong growth potential participate in the program. Talent’s goal is to strengthen managers’ skills and provide guidance for businesses’ structuring phases. The second year’s cycle will end in July and registration for the third group is open until 24 June 2019. It’s a good time to look at the origins and special characteristics of this unique assistance program.
How did the Talents program begin?
One of the FFPAPF’s most important missions is to assist fashion brands in their economic and financial development – from strategy to managing growth to organising activity. I get around 2,00 requests for help each year and I can only give my attention to 50. And, for the most part, this assistance is based on my skills. But young fashion brands have many other needs. For example, it’s important to provide them with expertise on specific sectors like manufacturing, which is essential but not my specialty. For several years I’ve been convinced that we needed to create a more complete support system. The appointment to President of Pierre-François Le Louët, who is very concerned about young designers, was a catalyst for this idea. So in 2017, thanks to financial support from DEFI, we set up this free program for brands. The idea was to not repeat other existing structures’ offers. That’s why we decided to concentrate on brands’ first growth stages.
What are the specific characteristics of this program?
Our program takes place over a year, from September to July, to match the fashion brand business calendar. We organised Talents around four foundations. Business coaching, the central concept, is led by a CFO/GM duo select by the Fédération; it’s a great external human resource. The program is about making things happen, starting with the very first days. Talents starts with a diagnosis to determine a brand’s needs and then schedules expert coaching in partnership with an experienced dream team. This very concrete coaching is rounded out with five collective master classes on a range of themes such as laws and regulations. Specialists take an academic approach when covering these subjects and then the discussion is opened up, encouraging participants to share their experiences. We also wanted to unite a community, so we scheduled cocktail soirées where brands from different years could meet in an informal setting to help each other. And finally, the selected brands go before a follow-up committee three times. The Committee is made up of fashion professionals with backgrounds that go from design to distribution to recruitment. The idea is to check in at each stage – at the beginning, mid-way, and at the end of the program – to get fresh opinions and to gain perspective about chosen strategies. Talents leaders also willingly share their contacts with brands. In July, at the last meeting before the Committee, brands have to present a year-long road map. This way they don’t leave the program without the right tools to continue the development initiated during the year.
You’ll soon welcome the third year group. What have been your biggest successes and what are the changes you might plan?
There were numerous examples of success in the first year! Maison Château Rouge was an important member of that group. The business was really unusual and lacked experience in several areas, but it had an enormous potential. Working with us, it raised its first funds. We’re proud to have provided impetus. Another success: Atlein won the Andam Grand Prix. It’s magical to have seen this small label grow and earn such recognition. We’re also present in periods of uncertainty. During the first year, some participants questioned the viability of their business and we gave them a chance to regroup and prove themselves. We hope the experience will be as rewarding for the second group which will finish the program in July.
These first two years let us complete the program offerings. For the third year we’re going to expand the digital component – a topic that can’t be ignored. We also hope to work with technical service providers. And finally, for three weeks next September we’ll try out a pop-up store at Galeries Lafayette where we’ll present and sell collections from Talent’s first two groups.
Call for applications TALENTS program: here
Registration closing: June 24th 2019