Mr. Grieder, what did you wear when you were young? I'm more of a classic type when it comes to fashion. Even back then I walked around in jeans, a polo shirt, a blue sweater and sneakers. I'll do that this weekend today. I wasn't interested in being ultra-fashionable. I was interested in: How can you sell fashion?
In keeping with this, you started with a retail apprenticeship. I was at the Globus department store chain in Switzerland and went through all the departments there: purchasing, sales, accounting, decoration, marketing. This was great training.
To this day, you are still interested in the question: How do you sell something to people? Of course. I've always thought that if you know how to sell things, you'll never have to worry about making a living - no matter what happens in this world. As a child I sold gemstones that I collected in the mountains, later cars, then leather jackets. There is a lot of talk about strategy in companies today. But it's only worth something if you sell it.
What's your trick to selling? Never say, "How can I help you?" A good salesperson responds to the customer and speaks to him, for example by saying: "You have a nice jacket."
You once traded in leather jackets. How did this come about? My sister's boyfriend worked in the textile industry, so I was often allowed to help out. He had a supplier from Turkey and he made incredible sales with these leather jackets. Then I called Turkey - I was still a student - and asked if they needed someone in Switzerland to sell their leather jackets.
But you didn't have any buyers? I wrote to the department stores and called them. They replied that they would come to my showroom. But I didn’t even have a showroom (laughs). So I said it was currently being rebuilt. Then I could go to them and convince them. As a student, I became one of the largest suppliers of leather jackets in Switzerland.
Then you were already rich as a student? What does rich mean? Yes, I thought that at the time. I first bought a stereo system, an English TR6 sports coupe and an IWC watch from my hometown of Schaffhausen.
And when things went well with the leather jackets, it was clear that you were going to stick with fashion retail? Somehow I stuck with it. At times I thought that I could actually have become an architect. But it started so well, and then one thing led to another. I founded my own agency. Brands were gradually added later.
Has nothing ever gone wrong?
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