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Q&A with Claudia Abraira, Store Manager at Kipling

Tags: Brand News Life at VF Direct-to-Consumer

Q&A with Claudia Abraira, Store Manager at Kipling

April 1, 2016

Claudia Abraira, a Kipling® store manager in San Diego, California, uses the power of positivity to drive sales and empower associates at her store. In her four years leading the Kipling store, Abraira has instilled the brand’s ‘Make Happy’ movement into everyday life at the store.

Bringing 10 years of prior retail experience to Kipling, Claudia has a passion that is undeniable in her store’s continued growth and success.

What is unique about working at Kipling?

The store is an absolute expression of the Kipling brand, which customers experience as soon as they walk through the door. At Kipling, we believe that we don't just make bags, we make happy. Happy inspires the bright, playful prints, bold colors and carefree versatility of our products. The store captures happiness – the playful, feel-good outlook of the brand.

It also inspires how I lead my team and how we create an in-store experience for our customers. Every day, I update our ‘Make Me Happy’ board where I place a little card to congratulate and motivate each of our store associates. Positivity breeds more positivity – and having an extra stash of candy always handy never hurts either!

How does sharing and collaboration play a part in your role as store manager? 

Working in retail for more than 10 years now, VF has very approachable leaders. Even with more than 100 global retail stores, Kipling’s senior leaders connect with each store manager. This level of communication and VF’s focus on continual training keeps me motivated.

In my last four years with Kipling, I’ve attended trainings with other Kipling store managers that focus on building collaboration between stores and sharing best practices in customer service, management and product. VF continues to demonstrate its commitment to all associates at all levels, especially as it grows its Direct-to-Consumer business with retail stores. 

What goes into opening a new Kipling retail store?

Opening any new store comes with a learning curve, but understanding that at the core the Kipling customer is a woman who has her own style – and is all about celebrating others and her family – and has the travel bug. Kipling is not a trend, it’s a lifestyle. If you use this as your guide, any store opening will be a success. 

After opening my store in San Diego, Kipling offered me the opportunity to help six other store managers open and launch other stores on the U.S. West Coast. It was a great opportunity to help new store managers navigate the opening days and ensure they were well on their way to happy.