Dedicated to fashion pros, as a strategy consulting agency Mars Branding Agency stands out for its originality. It produces the podcast Wholesale Is Not Dead (WIND), well known to young designers, brands, shops and wholesale specialists. The agency was founded by Julie Le Gall and Florent Tamisier: in an interview with Aline Abeya, Sales Manager France and Benelux at Webhelp Payment Services, they share their vision of the market.


What services does Mars Branding Agency offer?

Julie Le Gall: Our business strategy and communication consulting agency was founded in March 2020 – hence our name. [In French ‘mars’ means both March and Mars] We offer fashion brands solutions for managing distribution, communication and digital strategy issues.

Florent Tamisier: We support or manage projects, using support formats that range from individual coaching to implementation: community management, press relations, influence marketing, content creation (video, audio and photo), sales, and the development of a distribution and agent network in France and the rest of Europe, etc.

How long have you been working together? How does your individual experience complement that of the other?

Florent Tamisier: We worked together a few years ago in a subsidiary of the Eram group. I was the export sales director, in charge of around fifteen agents and fifteen distributors, with an export turnover of around €10 million. Julie was in marketing: the resulting synergy made us want to try our own wings, so we created Mars Branding.

Julie Le Gall: Among the footwear brands we had in our portfolio were Les Tropéziennes, which have already proved very successful in France and the rest of Europe. I worked there for six years as director of communications and marketing.
Florent and I had the pleasure of being part of this beautiful French brand’s revival, which in 2015 changed from wholesale to omni-channel. And this move to digital has worked really well, even at an international level. This explains our desire to support other brands who are eager to move from wholesale to digital, or simply to develop their business.

Regarding the Les Tropéziennes brand, what lessons have your learnt from its successful transition to digital?

Florent Tamisier: The general principle you would hear repeated until then in the fashion business was: “you must first have a presence on the digital market and, when the brand is strong enough, sell your product in stores”. But we have shown that this is not the case: thanks to the network that existed across the country, with a very strong brand on the ground, digital took off very quickly.

Julie Le Gall: In fact, it’s a very profitable strategy to start with wholesale on the ground, before switching to digital, with retailers bearing the costs involved. The Les Tropeziennes brand has become a textbook case!

What types of support do you offer young fashion designers?

Julie Le Gall: With our Coaching offer, we support many young designers and project leaders in the product, marketing and communication areas. They are right at the start of their brand development careers and are responsible for promoting very specific products and values. Often they manufacture in France and develop their products in a very competitive environment.
Essentially we advise them on brand and distribution strategies in the French leather goods, textile design, footwear and jewellery sectors.

Florent Tamisier: These young designers have many very specific questions: should I look to wholesale, and how do I go about it? Do I need to set up a store and in what form? Do I need to promote my product, my brand, or both? Is this the right time to promote my product on a particular channel? etc.
During support sessions lasting a few hours, which we make readily accessible, we share our expertise with them, based on our professional experience, our networks, and the exclusive contacts we have with highly experienced, specialised professionals.

And what is it you do for those brands?

Julie Le Gall: Brands have reached a stage of development where they are concerned with production and the regular promotion of their collections, and they often have a distribution network. Some are wholly digital and we can support them from the wholesale perspective, for example. With advice on marketing and business development.
Similarly we can support brands that already operate on a full wholesale basis and want to move to digital. In this case, our efforts focus on communication, marketing and e-commerce site development.

Leading fashion pros are interviewed in your highly successful “Wholesale Is Not Dead” podcast. What is the idea behind this?

Florent Tamisier: The idea came from a particular observation. We provide a lot of courses in incubators and support structures. For this audience, characterised by a particular desire for the sharing of professional experience, we have created a podcast format. This enables our students to follow an in-depth conversation, between highly experienced professionals… something hard to come by elsewhere!
In as little as 40 minutes, our students feel they are entering the real world of professionals, which perfectly complements the theory they are learning.
And it goes without saying that there are very different types of content: declarations of love for our profession, seldom heard truths, analyses or very specific advice… trade secrets often come at the end of the interview.
As a result of the very positive feedback from students we wanted to broadcast these podcasts to a wider audience. That’s why we created a series with the catchphrase Wholesale Is Not Dead (WIND), dedicated to developing the fashion industry at the physical point of sale.

Julie Le Gall: We have now published approaching 90 podcasts. These can be found on our website but also on all listening platforms such as iTunes podcast, Deezer, Spotify, Amazon and Google.
To give an example that will interest young designers, there is the podcast by Sophie Baron, from the Pom boutique in Marseille.
In terms of shops, retailers and independent stores, we have often heard mention of a sense of isolation. These professionals often work alone, or in very small teams. This a place where they can immerse themselves in a relevant live medium that “speaks” to them just where they are. It is also a very rich source of inspiration and motivation.

Why this name Wholesale Is Not Dead ? I must admit that it caught my attention the first time I saw it… and I share your analysis: there’s a vast Wholesale ecosystem out there and it is alive and well!

Florent Tamisier: Our in-depth knowledge of wholesale is precisely one of the things that makes our agency stand out from the rest. When we started two years ago, at the beginning of the first lockdown, we focused on digital. This was also in keeping with a global shift in the sector towards digital. So there was a lot of help that this channel had to offer.
With the closing down of shops and stores, some observers have claimed that wholesale is part of the “old model”. Especially since in-store sales had already been decreasing since around 2007. As for “100% retail”, which has been in vogue, we can also say that this has harmed Wholesale.
However, it seemed to us that this disaffection was a mistake: some companies make considerable profits from wholesale. This distribution channel also offers huge opportunities.
That’s why we decided to sing the praises of this market… taking the form of wholesale recommendations: do not make the mistakes of the past when it comes to either buying or selling, when touring with your product or in the management of your margins, for example.

Julie Le Gall: I would add that the most beautiful European shops are independent multibrands: they have a lot of soul and provide real value. Today, they are a great way to support product design and young designers.

How did Mars Branding and Webhelp Payment Services meet?

Julie Le Gall: We are very active on the market, we try to meet as many people and market players as possible. This curiosity resulted in our attending conferences on all sorts of subjects. A few months ago, a conference organised by Webhelp Payment Services caught our attention at Who’s Next: it was one of the few to talk about wholesale!

Florent Tamisier: It was also one of the few conferences that addressed the issues of sales, distribution and payments. Yet these are essential matters! We got together at once and then decided to talk regularly about the area of distribution in fashion, a subject that tends to go under the radar. And what we find is that this subject is now bringing more and more people together…

Is there an awareness of payment services in the fashion industry? What are the needs?

Florent Tamisier: Some ways of doing business, such as Cash & Carry, are changing. Cash & Carry used to be based on a simple principle: the absence of a payment deadline. But some market players are starting to look for greater flexibility and are turning to a provider like Webhelp Payment Services.
In more general terms, I would like to have known sooner about all the payment services that are available today!
I could have recommended them to market players in the sector who were faced with payment collection and document verification problems, and with a need to know the financial health of a particular market player… or knowledge of the market in general, including exports.

Julie Le Gall: What is important to us is that the wholesale community involved in the fashion industry continues to grow and develop its skills. We look forward to continuing to contribute to this with our podcasts!

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