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Into the Life of a Visual Merchandiser | José Botelho

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José Botelho -Visual Merchandiser Manager at The Bicester Village started his career in retail 16 years ago, but his background has nothing to do with this field. He graduated in Environmental Sciences and did an internship in Human Genetics. Despite the scientific upbringing, he has always been a creative person.

MiND met him in Barcelona where he walked us through his experience into the world of retail and visual merchandising.

Yoga sculpture accessories window 2019, Desigual in Regent Street, London.

Starting with photography, he had his first contact with the world of fashion and retail with parades. José worked in a laboratory for scientific research and, at the same time, he had the opportunity to work part-time in an H&M store and from there he moved on to visual merchandising. After working in one of the main flagship stores in Portugal, he moved to Springfield and started his international career as Head of Visual Merchandising for international markets managing to introduce the brand in three new markets of visual merchandising: Italy, England and the Netherlands.

Afterwards, he was asked to work for Vero Moda as responsible for new store concepts and global training for visual merchandisers. At the same time, his job was to find new materials, develop the shop fitting in stores according to the brand’s needs. In Aarhus, Denmark, he collaborated with the product and sales department, and they developed a dossier of guidelines for visual merchandisers that increased the sales in the first six months.

Tone to tone, focus on product window 2019, Desigual HQ in Barcelona.

When he moved back to Portugal, he started working in the world of sports. He built a Visual Merchandising Department from zero for SportsZone and was hence responsible for its development. He then started working for Desigual, where he was in charge of something different from his usual: he was responsible for the operative part of the windows department where he reorganized the entire department and was then promoted to Image Department Director. This department is the cohesion of all visual departments that communicate as one single voice, with a great power and commitment to improve communication with clients.

“What I like best about managing a team is being able to boost their growth and make them believe in themselves so they can create without limits”

Flying Woman, Spring/Summer collection 2017, Desigual in Barcelona.

He recently started working for The Bicester Village Shopping Collection of Value Retail, which specializes exclusively in the creation and operation of luxury outlet destinations in Europe and China. He works for La Roca Village in Barcelona with a total of 150 brands which range from restoration, homeware, retail and more. The biggest challenge in this job is to create something different every time, to create an alignment between the Village and the brands so the customers can live the same experience within the space, through the streets of the “village”, inside the stores and in front of the store windows.

Christmas accessories gift box window 2018, Desigual in Rambla Cataluna, Barcelona.

According to José, the creation process in a company grows with the product, which leaves a very marked line of thought, design and creativity. The visual merchandising and marketing teams enter at this point to create the modus operandi of how products will be communicated throughout different media.

His scientific education is his source of inspiration. He looks for organic forms, sustainable materials, moving to the feminine side in architecture, design and fabrics. “I try to run away from what already exists. It is very difficult to create something new today. I try to get out of the box, from normal retail, and look for something different”, explains José. He gets his inspiration also from cities and countries like Asia, Japan, Korea, but also New York (with its flagship stores, pop ups), Miami and Brazil.

Snow globe with wind inside, Matarò opening, Catalunya.

José has done many window displays, from very loaded to very minimalist, but what he cherishes more is creating a good environment in which to work and not only creating a powerful team, but also creating strong friendships.

"My goal is to provoke a smile on people, an emotion, something good."

His personal and professional new challenge for the future is to become 100% sustainable. It is important to have an ecological part in the world and, for this reason, José wants not only to create an experience for the customers, especially younger ones, but also to take care of the environment while doing that. Nowadays, stores look more minimalist – for example, Zara’s new concept. Retailers are looking for details, which is usually something very trendy, and a mixture of recyclable materials that can combine with the brand’s identity.

Let yourself glow campaign 2020, La Roca Village, Catalunya.

Talking about the online market, José said: “In my view, the online market is a window for the big brands, it is the showcase of the world” and, according to him, it is also the cheapest without a physical space to take care of. It is like an “online game” and people spend a large part of their day with their cellphones in their hands, connected to the internet for whatever reason. At the same time, he thinks that the Generation Z -the younger customers- are trying to move away from this and therefore physical retail is adapting but it still has to evolve more to adjust with the online market. “Maybe we need fewer stores but with more experiences focused on the customer”, concludes José.

We at MiND thoroughly enjoyed finding out about José’s role and experience, and wish him the best of luck in his future projects.

Interview by Lisa Zanon