Ennu is known for its unique and unusual selection of high fashion items, does that attract a particular type of client?
It's a challenge to put my finger on a definition of our client. In short, the Ennu customer is a man or woman who has an apparent mindset of what fashion entails. Due to our specific and peculiar selection, you'll find items here that will be hard to find anywhere else. This results in an extremely loyal clientele, both locally and international. I even have clients coming from the United States who will drop by whenever they're in the neighbourhood. The thing they all have in common is their love for fashion. You'll have a hard time finding anyone that has entered the store, who doesn't feel the same passion for clothing to their core as we do. They wouldn't like it here at all.
When a client has such an expanded knowledge of fashion, do they still acquire a lot of advice and assistance?
Offering guidance and recommending items to clients changed a lot compared to when I first started thirty years ago. That's not only because of a customer's grasp on collections; it's also because our mindset has changed entirely. When you would enter a multi-brand boutique several years ago, you would ask for head-to-toe styling advice and walk out with an entire look, usually from one single brand like for instance Ann Demeulemeester. Nowadays, we mix and match brands within looks, but customers don't buy those completely styled looks anymore. They'll invest in the blouse they love and combine it with items from their personal wardrobe. Or they'll come back a few weeks later to buy a skirt. Contrary to that, they do still ask for my advice and opinion. They trust in my added expertise; they value my aesthetic.
Do you miss the old days of styling those head-to-toe looks?
Not necessarily. This is a new approach, but it's a fun challenge. As a boutique owner you are required to stay on top of your game, look for a fresh point of view and find a way to stay relevant. You approach your client differently, but the end game remains the same: finding a way to sell items, without coming off as a pushy or aggressive sales person. It all comes down to understanding your client and loving the pieces and labels you have for them. You might pull something out that they completely overlooked or ignored due to its appearance on a hanger. It's my job and my team's goal to pique their interest, to have them try on one more item so they can witness the added value of a multi-brand boutique and a specialised team that's there to assist you.
Your son and daughter are part of the Ennu team, what's it like to have your children working alongside you?
I have four children of which two happened to be interested in the fashion. As a father, that's a joy to witness. To know that you've inspired them as a direct result of your own passion. Working with them is incredibly easy and fun because we share a similar outlook. My son probably resembles me the most. He has the same enthusiasm and spontaneity towards fashion. My daughter is a bit more reserved, slightly cautious, but she brings a nice balance to our team. She pushes us to be critical of our choices on buying trips and in the boutique. The three of us select everything based on a gut feeling, an intuition what might work the next season. It's important that there's someone to question those decisions, to help us stay alert. But in the end, it's the love for a piece that will push us over the edge, and that will make it sell. There's always someone that will love it as much as you.