Jessica Johanneson, who was featured in our Nordic Women Powering Fashion 2018 Infographic, is the COO and Head of Business & Events of Stockholm Fashion District and Association of Trade Partners Sweden. Being at the forefront of the Swedish business network, Jessica is heavily involved in establishing partnerships and helping other brands gain a voice in the fashion landscape. We had the chance to sit down with her to talk about her career in the fashion industry and how she sees the role of female leaders in it.
How did you get started in the fashion industry?
I’ve been in this industry ever since I got my first job. When I was 13 years old I started working in a clothing store and after several years in fashion retail, I decided to pursue an education in fashion management. In 2011, the last year of my studies in ‘Trade and Business Management’ at the Nordiska Textilakademin (former Proteko), I landed an internship at Trade Partner Sweden (the parent company of Stockholm Fashion District). After my internship I got offered a full time position as Marketing and Project Assistant at the same company.
How did you become COO and Head of Business & Events at Stockholm Fashion District?
I started as a Marketing and Project Assistant and as the organization and the industry evolved, I’ve simultaneously grown with it. As I have worked in all our business areas I had a good foundation and knowledge to stand on when we decided last year to expand our leadership team. At that point it was a natural step for me to take on the COO role of Stockholm Fashion District.
Female leaders in the fashion industry are seldom. What tips would you give women who want to rise up the career leader?
Collaborate rather than compete with your colleagues in the industry. Boost your colleagues and bring forward the women in leading positions as role models. Another tip although not always possible or easy: find yourself a great manager that believes in you and allows you to grow.
What challenges do you currently face or have you faced in the past as a woman in a leadership position?
Having Helena as our CEO and manager, it has always felt completely natural being a woman in a leading position. She has always given my colleagues and me the chance to be heard and to grow. If you have that support from your manager internally, you are more confident when taking on challenges outside the office walls.
Stockholm Fashion District is quite unique in that it only has women in leading positions. How does that affect the way you work together and with others (brands, clients, etc.)?
For us, working with only women in leading positions has always been normal, and we can only see benefits in it. We embrace this to the fullest as it allows us to bring diversity to the industry and to challenge the norms. By letting our female leaders shine, we set an example for the whole industry.
What do you think the future for women in the fashion industry will be like?
Bright! The fashion industry is one of the industries that has a lot of female leaders, and we can lead the way. By giving them more freedom and allowing them to grow professionally, more women can have a future as leaders. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t forget equal diversity. With that I mean diversity in both men and women from different cultures that drive the business and bring new perspectives.
Do you think women in Scandinavia have an easier time rising in their fashion career compared to other countries in Europe or the US?
Sweden and Scandinavia have come further than many countries when it comes to overall diversity in men and women. With that mentality in mind, yes, I do think it’s a bit easier for women in Scandinavia. I also think it’s about what company you work for – if you work for a company that enjoys and drives change – then you’re allowed more space and can more easily move your career forward.
What are your professional plans and projects for 2018?
Sustainability will be, and has been for a couple of years now, a focus. We’re also creating a business platform where we include the whole line of the fashion industry – from the production to the store staff. My passion lies in giving the store staff the opportunity to have a greater influence on the business by allowing them to leverage their ability to sell their brand’s products. E-commerce is becoming bigger and bigger and is a crucial part of our industry. Today it’s essential for brands to implement an omnichannel strategy to stay competitive – while meeting a great sales person in a physical store remains at the core of the business.
Today is clinic day in Stockholm Shoe House for store managers and their teams. The day started with a lecture in sales by our own Vanessa Leporati and is now continuing with lots of inspiration and exchange of knowledge! ______________________________________________ #stockholmfashiondistrict #stockholmshoehouse #clinicday
If you had some advice for your younger self, what would it be?
Gather knowledge, educate and try many different roles and business areas.
If you want to find out more about the Swedish fashion business network, head over to their website. Let us know your thoughts on the interview in the comments below! And for more on Nordic Women Powering Fashion, discover our infographic.