Meet Australia's Most Successful Overseas Buyer, Yasmin Sewell
I went to meet my friend for her birthday last week, and her mate had to dash to meet up with my soon-to-be-over-email-interviewee, Yasmin Sewell. “What’s she like?” I asked, and the response at the table was, “She’s soooo nice,” followed by discussion over how chic and slim she’d looked even with a bun in the oven. Turns out, from my brief correspondence with her, that the rumours were true — she is one of the nice ones.
She even emailed me to apologize for the poor grammar in her hastily-typed answers — a new baby and a thriving business does leave her feeling a little-time poor these days, but, as she explained, there’s always time to stop and smell the roses, reconnect with the universe via meditation, and spend time with her beautiful new bubba.
With out further ado, meet Yasmin Sewell: Australia’s most successful overseas buyer, who's clients have included Browns, Liberty's and a naked and terrifying Courtney Love. She is now heading up an innovative new concept in luxury e-commerce Moda Operandi, that allows cashed up fashion fans to pre-order clothes directly from runways and tradeshows, and is rapidly employing some of fashion's more famous faces, including street style stars Taylor Tomasi Hill and Roopa Patel.
Zac: Walk us through a typical day. Exactly what does your job entail?
Yasmin: There is no typical day for me as I work with a number of different clients such as international brands, large retailers and also young designers. No day is the same. My team and I work on brand direction, fashion and buying strategy as well as trend forecasting.
Tell us about your team. Who are the people your business couldn’t function without, and what are their roles?
My girls Jemma Dyas and Hannah Clark are the vital elements of this business. Jemma is our Senior Consultant and a forecaster with over ten years experience as one of London's top buyers, while Hannah manages everything for us whilst running the office. We also have a handful of experts in their own fields such as Clare Caprinsky on retail design, Lauren Cochrane on copy and journalism, Kate Rogers on branding, Cindy Palusamy as a beauty and lifestyle consultant and Emma Loisel is our business strategist.
What do you find stimulating about your job? If you weren’t doing it, what would you be doing?
I actually love every aspect of what I do and I don't feel it’s a job at all. I'm able to work with various clients, so it means I can learn so much about many different brands and companies. Since I started the business four years ago, I have probably work closely with over twenty companies — it’s like having twenty jobs and gaining the experience from each of them. I enjoy being with my team; we all bounce ideas off of each other. If I weren’t doing this I'd probably be working in alternative health. I dream of opening a healing centre one day.
Did you study, or was it the 'school of life' for you?
Oh god no! This is where I struggled. I absolutely hated school with a passion. It just didn't work for me. I've always craved an element of freedom in my work, which is why I like a consultant role over a full time one. That trait was always in me, even more as a child. My learning and higher education came when I left school and started working. That’s when I really developed professionally and also personally.
With all the information on the Internet pertaining to fashion, do you feel the need to keep up with it all?
I don't keep up with everything. I have people around me who do that. I tend to believe if information comes your way, it’s what you need for whatever reason. Everything else is just gibberish.
Would you say that buying is something that takes a lot of thought and research, or is it a more intuitive process? What are the elements that you’re looking for when you’re picking things out?
For me it’s been 90% intuition and about 10% common sense, give or take.
How important is going to shows at fashion week in this day and age, when we have websites like NOWFASHION and Style.com?
The shows definitely look and feel different in the flesh, but actually sometimes collections look much better in images and visa versa. There is an atmosphere at a show that can never be translated on the net, but in saying that, I only choose a select few as the madness around them before and after can be pretty draining.
You’ve run a meditation workshop with Gary Gorrow. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
I've known Gary since he was a fashion designer himself! I learnt to meditate with him about five years ago and it was a life-altering experience. We've been friends for a long time and have talked many times about creating something together in Europe. He was spending time in France this year and we just decided to make it happen. It was an incredible weekend. We're planning more.
How important to you is it to balance spiritual growth with your career, etc?
It’s extremely important. That connection has been integral to my success.
Tell us about your new bubba!
Oh, I could go on! His name is Knox Rocket Robinson and he's a golden-haired, blue-eyed angel! I've lost many hours staring at him and motherhood is getting better for me each day.
Has motherhood changed your outlook on life? Like, does work seem less important, or did you already have a good balance in terms of work and personal life before then?
Work certainly doesn’t seem less important, but I think that’s because I understood the importance of balance before I had him — of course he's my number one and will be for life. I feel lucky to be able to be a mother and also do what I do. I just have to work at managing it all, which is a ‘one day at a time’ process, especially right now while he's only six weeks old
Where do you see yourself in five or ten year’s time?
Tough question! Australia is always calling — especially now with the children. Wherever we are based, I'm hoping I will have kept my balance, popped out another kid or two, and am still creating stuff. Who knows?
I've heard you're one of the ‘nice ones’. Is fashion as bitchy as people think it is?
Oh, that is lovely of you to say! Is that true? I wonder if that’s just because I'm happy, because that’s what it comes down to, right? There are a lot of shall I say ‘unhappy’ people in this industry and I've never known why. I don't think I’m necessarily competitive, which helps. A lot of women that I've worked with in my career have been, and that’s always a challenge. I generally want everyone around me to do well and feel good.
What is your position on…
Skinny jeans? The glue that ties most of our wardrobes together!
Black vs colour? All good for me — switch it up.
Crocs? Love to hate.
Speedos? Interesting to watch.
Power bobs? A bit boring and dated now, don't you think?
Fake tans? Necessary for some in small doses.
Courtney Love? LOVE HER! She was one of my best and most memorable customers at my boutique, Yasmin Cho. I’ve spent hours chatting with her whilst she wandered around the store naked, scaring off other customers. I recall her alabaster flawless skin. She was very generous and totally mad — exactly as you'd expect.
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