Matuvu is an innovative and trendy fashion company based in Antwerp that introduces and represents international fashion brands in Be (Ne) Lux. Matuvu not only provides collections for clients, but also helps fashion entrepreneurs to grow their business by offering coaching sessions, monthly expert classes & e-manuals.
Ils Sterckx, a 100% fashion entrepreneur based in Belgium. 10 years ago Ils graduated at University as Master in business communication & roman languages (French – Spanish). During her studies it was clear she wanted to work in the fashion industry. Ils’ goal was to work in a company where they distribute international brands in Benelux. After her studies she immediatly started as junior sales manager for fashion labels as Liu Jo, 7FAM, Michael Kors.
‘’As I loved this job I knew this would be the industry where I wanna built my career. From young age I loved to organize events, create things & implement ideas. I could say I had this entrepreneurial gene in me. I organized dance events during lunchtime at school, my school mates had to buy tickets to enter the event, and I loved to be te leader of the team :-).’’
Today Ils runs her own fashion company for 5 years and in the small free time she has, she prefer spending this time doing sports like yoga, running, tennis & travelling.
Ils, thank you for your time and for giving us the opportunity to interview you we know you are a busy woman right now. Here are questions we would like to ask you, to get to know you & your business and to give our readers a taste of your fashion entrepreneurship.
Tell us something about Matuvu Fashion Agency.
For sure, you can find www.matuvufashionagency.be. MATUVU is more than a ‘standard’ fashion agency. We represent & distribute international women fashion & lifestyle brands in Benelux. Our clients are fashion entrepreneurs who are working in retail. They have their own store, e-commerce or retail concept. They choose at our agency the collections they love during the year. Beside the distribution part, we help fashion entrepreneurs to grow their business by offering coaching sessions, monthly expert classes & e-manuals. This way we support them to be innovative & creative in the industry.
Matuvu also offers her own fashion business magazine which will go internationally from 2018. It’s a magazine for (women) entrepreneurs & starters with a passion for fashion and lot’s of business of course.
What are your company goals at this moment?
Our mission is to empower women entrepreneurs (retailers, stylists, designers, influencers, fashion editors,..) in fashion business. This by connecting brands (labels, designers) with stores,…and give them the possibility to learn from experts in the fashion industry by our business coaching.
Our vision is to create one big fashion family to support these fashion entrepreneurs in their business. The fashion industry is a very competitive and hard business with lots of women who are working in it. We want to support them and make them grow to a stable & big business.
What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur, besides leaving a job you used to work for?
At the age of 27 I started to work as ‘independent’ not knowing what is was ‘entrepreneurship’. I just wanted to distribute 1 jewelry brand in Belgium and would be happy with the development of this project. Of course I didn’t know this would ask so much energy and time. Every day long days, even working in the weekend to make a brand and my business big in Belgium. During the years I learned a lot, had a lot of experiences (bad & good) and I can say today I really love to be an ‘entrepreneur’ and create. As my passion is my work, it doesn’t feel like working. But I have to say, I lost some friends, my relationship by working a lot and not having time to spend with them. Today I still have to work on this and not go back to this 24/24 work mode.
To what do you attribute your success in Fashion and how do you define success?
For me success is doing what you love and that you can have a nice living of this. If feel succesful when I can share my expertise on the field and helping other fashion entrepreneurs & starters to grow their businesses. This way they don’t have to make the mistakes I did and prepare them to chase their dreams in business.
So you give business classes for those who are just starting a business in fashion. What’s the hardest part of telling someone how to change their business?
Yes we give monthly expert classes about topics trending in fashion industry as branding, social media, e-commerce, businesstrends, start in fashion, etc. The focus is not only on starters. We do a lot of expert classes for women who are already in fashionbusiness, but who love to lear, improve, to get inspired & empowered.
As I’m working for 10 years in fashion industry, each day with women entrepreneurs (& starters) I see a lot of different stories; great stories, but also bad stories. It’s not that I want a person to change their business, but for sure I’ll give them tips how they can innovate, improve and add some small changes to have greater results. It’s important for me that each fashion story stays authentic. You can’t change persons, you can help them & coach them.
How would you describe your work style?
I love to work in an open big space, with lots of light and a clean desk. This gives me inspiration & helps me to be creative and productive. Love also to work with our clients in a nice environment with good vibes.
In my daily work, I am perfectionist and try to focus on whats important for my business & the future of my company. Daily goal setting is one of my priorities. I love to know where I’m going.
Tell us about your proudest achievement?
I think my proudest achievement it’s the creation of MATUVU. It’s just creating a business which helps a lot of people and support them. If there was no MATUVU, where would fashion entrepreneurs find the most beautiful collections & business coaching for their business? 🙂 So I’m very happy to work each day on this project and improve day by day.
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
My biggest failure was not knowing my numbers. I’m a very right brain, so very creative person and I’m not that interested in numbers. When you are growing your business it’s very important that you know you numbers, the financial part. Because of this, I did some wrong decisions in collaborations with other companies and lost this way a lot of money. As young entrepeneur it was a hard time, so for all those who start, please be aware of this.
If you had one piece of advice to our readers to those just starting out a business in fashion, what would it be?
Beside the part of knowing your numbers 😉 (as I told above) my advice for those who start in fashion; START BEFORE YOU’RE READY. With this I mean you have to take action and not waiting. Not waiting until you have time, until you have money, until the branding is perfect, until… As entrepreneur you are never ready! Each day you have to innovate, improve, renew and adapt the way of working, leading and investing. As Nike says, just do it.
Ils, thank you one more time for taking your time to answer this interview, it was such pleasure to learn more about you!
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