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Behind the scenes with Mocka’s visionary leader

“We spend a lot of time at work, and I have learnt over many years that the culture of the organisation makes/breaks the company’s success. Being an authentic and open leader is critical to success, especially in the retail world I work in.”

Vanessa Brennan, Mocka’s CEO

For over fifteen years, Mocka has been championing women in business. With a talented and diverse group of women leading the way, the contemporary furniture brand has prioritised ensuring that women are well-represented at all levels of the organisation. 

Vanessa Brennan, Mocka’s CEO, is proud to be part of the transformation that has taken place for women in the workplace over the past decade. She believes that supporting each other is crucial to maintaining this progress.

“At Mocka, promoting women in business is not just a mere talking point but a fundamental value that is demonstrated through the company’s leadership team,” she says. “Women have played a crucial role in every aspect of the company’s operations, including supply chain, product design and development, warehouse management, customer service, and marketing.”

Mocka was established in New Zealand in 2007 by a couple expecting their first child. Frustrated with the limited options for stylish and affordable nursery furniture, they decided to develop their own pieces. Since then, the company has grown and expanded its product range while continuing to prioritise gender diversity and inclusivity in the workplace.

“They developed a range of items that could afford and were stylish, including the iconic Mocka Balance Bike, Mocka Original High Chair & Mocka Aspiring Cot.”

With a mission to cater to various life stages of families and provide quality, design-led furniture that is accessible to most households. The company began with nursery furniture but quickly expanded to include decor for the entire home, leading to its success in New Zealand and subsequent expansion into Australia in 2013. The Adairs Group acquired the company in 2019.

As the new CEO of Mocka, Vanessa Brennan shares her personal and professional interests in home design and furniture. With over 20 years of experience driving customer and digital transformation, Vanessa has held senior leadership positions in various areas, including strategy, brand and marketing, digital, product and merchandising, and customer and people experience. Her entrepreneurial spirit and multi-platform and multi-category expertise have earned her a strong reputation for integrity.

While fascinated by the constantly evolving trends in the industry, Vanessa was particularly drawn to Mocka’s unique offer in the market. She is proud to lead her team in the highly challenging retail environment and merge her personal and professional passions. Combining her love for home design and furniture with her expertise in the retail industry, Vanessa considers it a privilege to work in a role that allows her to do what she loves.

“ I really loved the business model and the fact that our customers can now get this beautiful, designed product.  From a professional perspective, I am a retailer at heart and being able to lead and navigate my team across a highly challenging retail environment is where I personally thrive. 

“It really is a privilege to have a role that allows me to combine my personal and business passion into one.”

‘Our starting point is always our customer’

The adage “Customer is King” has been a cornerstone of many successful business philosophies for generations, emphasising the vital role customers play in the success of any business. It serves as a reminder that customers are the lifeblood of any organisation, and their satisfaction should be the primary focus of any business.

In Vanessa’s view, customer-centricity is more than just offering excellent service; it’s about deeply understanding the needs and wants of customers, anticipating their desires, and offering solutions that cater to their specific requirements. She acknowledges that modern customers are more informed and have higher expectations than ever before.

To meet these expectations, Mocka regularly tests new designs with limited quantities and in different colourways to understand how customers respond before committing to manufacturing larger quantities and more styles within a range. This allows the company to stay ahead of the curve and meet the ever-evolving demands of its customer base.

As Vanessa puts it, “We are constantly looking for ways to improve our product offering and customer experience. By putting our customers at the heart of everything we do, we are able to build strong, long-lasting relationships that help us to stay ahead of the competition.”

“We often test new designs with limited qualities and in different colour ways to understand how our customers respond to them before we commit to manufacturing larger qualities and more styles within a range.

“Our product development process considers a few aspects. Our starting point is always our customer. We have mapped out key customer personas to understand their needs, aesthetics and life stages, and it’s important that our products meet their functional, quality and design needs. Global and local trends in interiors, colour palettes, lifestyle and economy play an important role when we develop our new ranges.”

“Our customers are at the heart of our business, and we have made important adjustments in the operational and communication parts of our business over the past 12 months to cater more effectively to the needs of our customers. 

“Some of these adjustments include partnering with courier suppliers who are more equipped to deliver to our expectations; overhauling our Customer Service operations by offering support in-country across phone, live chat and email, including weekend support; and creating a more seamless internal communication channel to funnel customer feedback to relevant departments for investigation and action. There is, of course, a lot more we would like to do, and we have an exciting roadmap for this year.” 

Adapting to the changes

The furniture industry is constantly evolving, and for Mocka, a furniture brand that values design and affordability, incorporating key trends into its strategy is crucial. 

One such trend is the evolution of the home. No longer just a place for rest and relaxation, homes are now also workspaces, and this shift has influenced Mocka’s approach to furniture design and development. They focus on form, sustainability, nature, and a refined strengthening of functionality and multipurpose spaces and products.

In addition, functionality and versatility are important category-specific trends that Mocka prioritises. They recognise that customers want more from their furniture and aim to create products that can adapt and evolve with their changing life stages and physical spaces.

“The focus is on form, sustainability, nature, and a refined strengthening of functionality and multipurpose spaces and products. A category-specific trend that is vital in our space is the need for Functionality and Versatility. 

“We want more from our furniture so that it can adapt and evolve with our life stages and physical space;  for example, dining chairs that stack save space, and additional storage incorporated into bed frames facilitates tidy spaces.”

The Furniture segment’s revenue is estimated to achieve US$2,726.00m by 2023, with an anticipated annual growth rate (CAGR 2023-2027) of 15.02%, as per Statista. As a result, it is projected that the market volume will reach US$4,771.00m by 2027.

The mantra of success: Building a strong company culture

Vanessa believes that as a leader, culture is of utmost importance to them, regardless of the industry. She believes that a company’s success depends on its organisational culture, which is why they focus on it extensively. 

“I focus on creating a culture that supports this type of work environment –  it is all about being a team player but as well building trust.”

“Culture is everything and is the key element I focus on as a leader – no matter what industry I work in. We spend a lot of time at work, and I have learnt over many years that the culture of the organisation makes/breaks the company’s success.  Being an authentic and open leader is critical to success and especially in the retail world where I work in.  

“We are faced with challenges daily, which means we get things right some days and some days that isn’t the case. To succeed in a retail world, you must be adaptable to change daily, resilient and not afraid to try new things, which sometimes you can get wrong.”

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Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

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