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Interview with Ana Artázoz, marketing director of Moltacte

Moltacte was founded in 2008 with the aim of creating a new company model one that is healthy and sustainable and which generates employment for people with mental illness. This group of people are highly stigmatised in our society and have serious difficulties finding work. Moltacte decided to put people at the centre of everything it does, and principally those with certified mental illnesses. por un trastorno mental.
Our initial idea was to create a chain of multi-brand fashion outlets predominately for women’s fashion, that would enable brands to sell off stock accumulated during the season, and in this way, create stable jobs for people with mental illnesses.
We originally had the idea of creating multi-brand chains in different areas of Catalonia but the financial crisis hit in 2008 creating difficulties for many companies in the fashion sector which were forced to reduce their output or even close. At that time, ESADE, along with BBVA, launched the Momentum Project which was specifically designed to help companies that were undergoing expansion but were unable to access funding. The project aimed to offer support in creating a business plan and help in achieving financing. Moltacte was included in the first round of the Momentum Project and we set up a meeting through ESADE, with Inditex. Stradivarius was the first chain owned by Inditex to show interest in the project.
We pitched it to them and they loved it. They suggested creating the first Stradivarius outlet store in Manresa, just 50 metres from the Moltacte shop we already had there. From there on it was a case of proving that these shops really worked and that there were
no problems of any sort: quite the opposite in fact it was one of the best sales outlets for all the stock generated by the brands. This led to another chain owned by the Inditex group Massimo Dutti, also showing interest in the Moltacte special franchising model, involving full management of the store. Two years ago, we opened a Massimo Dutti store in Llagostera and it has done incredibly well. This success has allowed us to continue opening more shops and, just six months ago, we opened a new Massimo Dutti store in Igualada.
We have lived through some very difficult and complicated years at Moltacte. In fact, we have had to close some of our less successful shops because we wish to demonstrate that a company can be both socially beneficial and economically sustainable. That is our main objective. We don’t want either our suppliers or customers to see us just as a charitable project which helps people with problems. Although we are a company with a social objective, we must also make a profit so we can create new stores, new jobs and new business opportunities.
On this basis, the relationship we have with our suppliers is always highly professional, showing that as a franchise we can manage any type of brand in the same way as the group itself manages it.
Moltacte is a company that ultimately seeks to provide a workplace that promotes personal growth for each and every one of our team members. We don’t label anyone, we remove labels. Instead we have built a company where every person is a piece in the overall puzzle. And, whatever their role and function, their piece of the puzzle is essential to complete the picture. In this healthy company model, we logically prioritise the inclusion of personnel with mental illnesses but our wider priority is building a solid team; a team that is motivated, passionate and self-reliant. This is achieved by working towards each of the companies becoming self-managing.
In this way people feel that others have faith in them and from there begin to realise their full potential. In addition, this new company model, founded on trust, puts the person at the centre, at the heart of the company’s development, and this has knock-on effect because as more shops become self-managing with a strong work team, those that work there claim it as their own. This personal growth and the ability for each person in our team to reach their full potential is the true objective at the heart of Moltacte.
At Moltacte we have always been clear that one of our fundamental principles must be to raise the visibility of this group and to do this we must generate jobs that allow them to be in direct contact with the public, relating directly to people, bringing normality to their situation. In the stores, customer service is one of the roles the staff carry out, and includes giving advice about image, garments, sizes… This means they are interacting in a natural
and spontaneous way with all types of customers: some are friendly, some less so, some are reserved, some are more open… This makes them realise that in this relationship nobody sees them as being different, and this gives them a great deal of self-confidence. When they have advised a customer and they see that she has purchased the garment they suggested, it gives them a boost as it means people value what they do, what they say and what they have to offer. We have seen that this direct involvement with the public has brought about an enormous change in their lives.
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