Building the future of work: An interview of Laurent Piffaut, co-founder of Dweet.

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October 1, 2021

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Jessica Marrazzo

Building the future of work: An interview of Laurent Piffaut, co-founder of Dweet.

J

Jessica Marrazzo

Whichever paths we choose in life, our experiences will undoubtedly shape our futures. Each day, we have the opportunity to build a career that we truly love, and that brings us closer to our personal goals. We spoke to Laurent Piffaut about his journey through the corporate fashion world, his vision behind Dweet and the importance of keeping people at the centre. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career background.

I was born and raised in France, with an appetite for travelling and discovering new people and different cultures. I moved to the USA for my last year of high school: an eye-opening experience that only spurred me on. So, I studied Finance & Management at university in the UK. I then interned at a bank in Germany before working for L’Oreal in Sweden for 2 years. 

In the early noughties, Chanel needed young managers that could structure their retail networks. My corporate finance background was quite unusual, but I was passionate about networking, as well as leading teams and projects. I joined Chanel as a retail business controller, but I was clear that I wanted to eventually become a Retail Manager. After just 2 years, they offered me the opportunity to become the Assistant Manager of the Chanel store on Rue Cambon in Paris. That’s when it all started.

What pulled you towards the fashion & luxury industries?

I followed my dream. After studying Finance, I thought I would go into banking. But I quickly realised it wasn’t for me. I wanted to work in an industry that brought me closer to beautiful products and interesting clients. So the luxury and fashion industry seemed an obvious choice. It’s client-focused, very creative, expanding fast and offers international career opportunities. 

Absolutely. So, where did your journey take you from there?

After working in Paris for a few years, I moved to Dubai for 5 years to lead Chanel’s fashion business in the Middle East & India, before joining Dior Couture as their GM for Central Europe in Munich, Germany. My next step was London when I became the Global Retail Director at Alexander McQueen. That job especially was quite the whirlwind. I travelled a lot as we opened stores across the globe: from Japan and China, to Southeast Asia, USA and Europe.

That’s quite the journey. What are your favourite things about the industry?

There are pros and cons, just like any industry. I think it’s well known that seasonal fashion shows are glitzy and glamorous. You’re working in a very selective and demanding ecosystem, selling products that bring joy and pride to the lucky few purchasing them. I loved every moment working in-house. All of my experiences have given me a prosperous career and helped me to become the person I am today – even the difficult moments. 

Can you share a little more about those challenges?

Sometimes it’s difficult to be constantly selling a dream. Management cultures can sometimes feel a bit traditional and hierarchical. 

And sometimes, the most beautiful brands in the world can unintentionally overlook the wellbeing of their employees. I’ve seen many people have to compensate for the lack of structure and resources. The reverse is also true: excessive structure can make agility and reactivity challenging. Team members can be stretched to the limit as nobody had thought about how they could deliver the promise. It becomes normalised as people fear for losing their jobs, or have never experienced alternative management styles.

So after 18 years, you decided to leave corporate fashion.

I was ready to be my own boss. I wanted to leave my “comfortable” corporate career. I always wanted to start my own company, and I wanted to focus on people. As a manager, I often needed to build ad hoc teams to reach project targets, but I didn’t have the resources. So many times I had to find quick replacements (think maternity cover, sick leave or a sudden departure). So often I was blocked by a historical headcount that meant I couldn’t adapt to the needs of the business. Successful companies depend on their teams: having the right people at the right time.

I met my co-founders Eli and Andreas in 2019. When we spoke to our friends in the tech, finance or IT industries, we realised that although consultancy was widespread there, it was only just starting in the fashion industry. So, we started Dweet later that year in London.

Dweet was born! What has been your biggest learning so far?

I’m a curious person, so I learn every day. Starting your own business is a constant source of lessons and discoveries. By joining forces with Eli & Andreas, we have created a beautiful chemistry. It would be impossible to be where we are today without it. So I’ve learnt that sharing your vision with one or two partners will make things happen faster and allow you to go further. 

What’s different about the platform?

We’re a new generation talent platform offering on-demand access to highly skilled people in fashion and luxury. There are lots of generic platforms out there, but we’re the only one that’s industry specialists.

We know the industry inside out. We attract the best talent because we understand where they’re coming from and what we want. Our community of professionals is looking for work, network and access to the market. We work with the most in-demand companies because we know what they need. For brands, we’re a one-stop-shop platform for the talent they need.

What’s your vision for Dweet?

Dweet is a culture. Our platform is the ultimate solution for work-life balance, wherever you are in the world. Joining Dweet will be instinctive for those seeking personal and professional success: choose when you work and who you want to work for, and we’ll take care of the rest. We aim to offer our community the same benefits as they would get in-house…with the freedom of being their own bosses. For clients, working with Dweet is accessing a vetted pool of highly skilled talent and productivity tools. It means they can source the people they need quickly and securely.

Post-pandemic, are more businesses starting to tap into high-level consultancy?

Yes, definitely. It started before, but it has accelerated over the past couple of years. The pandemic forced brands and talent alike to consider remote working. Many people saw new ways of working. Some employees realised they wanted more freedom and flexibility. Some employers found that their work could be organised more efficiently. The economic uncertainty of lockdowns also made some businesses think twice before hiring permanent staff in some roles. Access to on-demand skilled workers suddenly became more appealing.

Where do you see yourself going over the next few years?

With Dweet, we’re building the future of work. It’s ambitious and inspiring to be building something that goes beyond borders, and possibly industries. So, I’ll be working with my partners to make Dweet a fantastic place to be. On a personal note, I’m looking to spend more time with family and friends, achieving the work-life balance that I advocate for each day.

Laurent Piffaut is a co-founder at Dweet, with over 20 years of experience within fashion and luxury. Join the Dweet community to connect with like-minded professionals within the industry. 

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