My Journey - Danette Elliot Regional Manager NSW/SA for L’Occitane

June 12, 2017

My Journey - Danette Elliot Regional Manager NSW/SA for L’Occitane

by Elisabeth King

A good work ethic is more than putting your nose to the grindstone. It’s the belief that you are accountable and responsible for what you accomplish teamed with the knowledge that you are doing something worthwhile. My parents, especially my father who was a colonel in the army, really fostered the need to be exposed to the workplace at a young age and to treat people with respect, says Danette Elliott, Regional Manager NSW/SA for L’Occitane.

I started at McDonald’s when I was at school, adds Elliott. “It was great training and I progressed from crew to swing manager, supervising staff, products and equipment, through to going to uni. I enrolled in a degree course in art history and curation at ANU in Canberra, but quickly discovered that it wasn’t the right choice for me. I went full time at McDonald’s and moved to Sydney to manage the outlet in the Entertainment Centre. At the age of 21, I was managing an entire team in a frenetically busy environment”. Elliott had always had a keen interest in beauty, though. “Even as a teenager, I loved exploring The Body Shop and Red Earth stores. Don’t ask me why, but I even bought Estée Lauder’s cult anti-ager, Advanced Night Repair, when I was only nineteen. The attraction also sparked my love of retail and I applied for the job of assistant manager at the Esprit fashion store in Sydney’s Oxford Street”. An experience that taught Elliott about basic merchandising and the retail environment. But she still hankered after a career in the beauty business. “I kept sending out my CV and finally scored the position of manager at Mecca Cosmetica’s store in Chatswood. I loved working with on-trend brands like Nars and Stila. I pored over every copy of Allure magazine, the US beauty bible, and it was very rewarding to educate customers and be part of Jo Horgan’s vision”. Elliott worked for Mecca for seven years, including a long stint at the company’s busy Elizabeth Street store. “But I really felt the need to work for a larger organisation to develop my career further. I returned to fashion to work for the Cue and Veronika Maine brands as regional manager responsible for 15 stores. It was a fast-paced job and I had to be very reactive. When you are only managing one or two stores, you can fix problems instantly. I stayed for two years and really learned how a successful business operates”. Switching back to the cosmetics industry, Elliott worked for M.A.C for two years. “The highpoint for me was the visit of Dita

Elliott had always had a keen interest in beauty, though. “Even as a teenager, I loved exploring The Body Shop and Red Earth stores. Don’t ask me why, but I even bought Estée Lauder’s cult anti-ager, Advanced Night Repair, when I was only nineteen. The attraction also sparked my love of retail and I applied for the job of assistant manager at the Esprit fashion store in Sydney’s Oxford Street”. An experience that taught Elliott about basic merchandising and the retail environment. But she still hankered after a career in the beauty business. “I kept sending out my CV and finally scored the position of manager at Mecca Cosmetica’s store in Chatswood. I loved working with on-trend brands like Nars and Stila. I pored over every copy of Allure magazine, the US beauty bible, and it was very rewarding to educate customers and be part of Jo Horgan’s vision”. Elliott worked for Mecca for seven years, including a long stint at the company’s busy Elizabeth Street store. “But I really felt the need to work for a larger organisation to develop my career further. I returned to fashion to work for the Cue and Veronika Maine brands as regional manager responsible for 15 stores. It was a fast-paced job and I had to be very reactive. When you are only managing one or two stores, you can fix problems instantly. I stayed for two years and really learned how a successful business operates”. Switching back to the cosmetics industry, Elliott worked for M.A.C for two years. “The highpoint for me was the visit of Dita

An experience that taught Elliott about basic merchandising and the retail environment. But she still hankered after a career in the beauty business. “I kept sending out my CV and finally scored the position of manager at Mecca Cosmetica’s store in Chatswood. I loved working with on-trend brands like Nars and Stila. I pored over every copy of Allure magazine, the US beauty bible, and it was very rewarding to educate customers and be part of Jo Horgan’s vision”. Elliott worked for Mecca for seven years, including a long stint at the company’s busy Elizabeth Street store. “But I really felt the need to work for a larger organisation to develop my career further. I returned to fashion to work for the Cue and Veronika Maine brands as regional manager responsible for 15 stores. It was a fast-paced job and I had to be very reactive. When you are only managing one or two stores, you can fix problems instantly. I stayed for two years and really learned how a successful business operates”. Switching back to the cosmetics industry, Elliott worked for M.A.C for two years. “The highpoint for me was the visit of Dita

Elliott worked for Mecca for seven years, including a long stint at the company’s busy Elizabeth Street store. “But I really felt the need to work for a larger organisation to develop my career further. I returned to fashion to work for the Cue and Veronika Maine brands as regional manager responsible for 15 stores. It was a fast-paced job and I had to be very reactive. When you are only managing one or two stores, you can fix problems instantly. I stayed for two years and really learned how a successful business operates”. 

Switching back to the cosmetics industry, Elliott worked for M.A.C for two years. “The highpoint for me was the visit of Dita von Teese for the brand.

“My husband works in finance and was transferred to Singapore just before the GFC. I didn’t work for 18 months while we lived in Asia and was up for a new challenge on our return to Australia”.

Another industry beckoned. Elliott was asked by a friend, Anthony Puharich, of Vic’s Premium Quality Meat, Australia’s leading distributor of premium quality meat to the restaurant service industry, to manage Victor Churchill, his then new boutique butchery in Woollahra. “Even though I had never worked at the luxury end of the food industry before, Anthony and his father Vic thought I had the ability to run such an amazing concept”, says Elliott. “I loved the job and my retail training expertise quickly translated into selling haute couture meat cuts such as $1000 pieces of 9+ full blood wagyu beef. I trained team members in premium-selling service”.

After 18 months running the luxury meat boutique, whose plush interior design won the “Best of the Year” award at the 2010 New York International Design Awards, Elliott moved to L’Occitane in 2012 as a regional manager. “I was very careful to choose the right cultural fit. With a small child, I simply had to leave work at 5.30 each day. I told them this at the interview but emphasised my ability to meet targets and get results. They agreed and I was back in the business I adore”.

When Elliott joined L’Occitane, there was still a strong priority on gift-giving. “There’s been a big change over the past five years as we have moved into anti-ageing skincare such as Divine and Divine Harmony and developed our fragrance portfolio, including our latest release - Terre de Lumiere”.

Elliott believes that to be a true leader and manage staff well, you have to have a good succession plan in place. “This approach makes team members more accountable for the business. My team is so diverse and includes uni students studying to be doctors, lawyers and architects. They are so intelligent and really get what we are trying to do. For or a Valentine’s Day promotion, for example, it’s not about a big offer but making our customers feel like our Valentines”.

Elliot manages 10 stores - 9 in Sydney and one in South Australia. “The role is very intense and challenging. In my opinion, retail is a career to really aspire to. Our boss, Country Manager David McConnachie, really leads from the front. He is so open to ideas and rolls up his sleeves if need be. He recently worked at one of our flagship stores in Sydney’s Centrepoint for two days and the team members loved it”.

Beauty is the most fascinating business, says Elliott. “To succeed in the industry as a career, you have to be multi-faceted. A combination of entrepreneur, HR manager and counsellor to younger staff, in addition to having the ability to open new stores, encourage staff to meet targets and develop great product knowledge. But one of the things I really appreciate is that whatever brand they work for, the beauty industry attracts such dynamic people. I am in a great role and can’t wait to start work every day. You can’t ask for better than that in your working life”. 




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