‘I love unusual things and items; I love to inspire people, to set them in scene and to surprise them’ so Nathalie Nicoletti, store manager of Blue Sense in Heidelberg. The shop opened its doors barely one month ago and it reflects the multiple passions of Nicoletti: interior design & clothing –her professional career-, accessories, lifestyle and… Portugal! The store manager fell in love with the special light of Lisbon and its warm welcoming atmosphere, elements that have added an important piece to the big picture she had in mind about how a concept store should look like. Her shop aims to offer environmental-conscious products and brands reflecting her personal belief: “quality beats quantity“. Interview by Lorenzo Molina

What labels does your brand portfolio include?
Quality, sustainability, individuality are the main characteristics and values that my suppliers have to fulfill. Even in our times of a throwaway society I would like to try reviving these values. Herrlicher, Friday Reference, Clausporto, Indi & Cold, etc.

Interior view of the Blue Sense store
Interior view of the Blue Sense store

What are your personal preferences in terms of fashion?
My style arises spontaneously, in the morning in the shower to give an example. I'm not fixed on one single style. At the end every style has my personal touch: Colorful wild, conservative stuffy, rocking noble, restrained classical, Indi, folkloric… from day to day and of course depending on mood. Baggy jeans, harem pants, leather pants, suit, dress, green, red yellow... sometimes a wild and inspiring mix of different patterns- but sometimes also quite clean.
I can´t limit myself, that would restrict me too much. I really love surprising combinations of styles and materials. Helping my customers transforming themselves, keep trying something new really makes me happy.

How important is the denim segment for Blue Sense?
Denim is one of our main products, which also leads to our shop name: Blue Sense stands for the special blue colour you can experience in Lisbon’s ancient buildings; blue, indigo radiates virtually from this city. You can discover this impressive colour again and again at many places: this shade of blue is part of the traditional tiles in Portugal on ancient facades, in homes, in parks, in churches - just everywhere, beautiful.
The Munich-based jeans manufactory "Herrlicher" is one of our favorite suppliers in the denim range. Not only that these figure-hugging jeans set really every female bottom in scene - their fits are simply leading edge and the pricing is reasonable.
Whether “skinny” or “boyfriend”: all of these jeans are predominantly produced and washed in Portugal. During different phases of the washing procedure, the water is filtered and reused many times in order to protect our environment. So the policy of Herrlicher exactly reflects my own business priorities: quality, sustainability and individuality.

Blue Sense brand portfolio includes Herrlicher, Friday Reference and Clausporto, among others.
Blue Sense brand portfolio includes Herrlicher, Friday Reference and Clausporto, among others.
What are your sources of information in order to be up-to-date in terms of fashion trends?
I discover a lot of my inspirations on streets, in fashion blogs, but also in museum exhibitions and vernisage events, in scenes of big cities and, of course, in professional journals. From all I filter out my themes and focus my trends. When I am ordering I am able to see my clients in front of me... and imagine how to set them in scene.

How would you describe a good customer service nowadays?
The customer is my guest and will be served attentively. My goal is to offer an outstanding but authentic shopping experience. In my personal understanding a good customer service is crucial and the moment of truth is relevant at every touchpoint the customer has with the Blue Sense business.
Every customer is welcomed personally. Inside the shop coffee and water are available for free as well as a personal all-round advice, together with all information needed about our philosophy and products. Regular customers are kept update on news products, the latest trade trends or events on all favorite channels by phone, in writing or by e-mail. An alteration service is also available of course.

Where do you order your products?
I visit order fairs, nationally and internationally, on a regular basis and travel to Portugal in order to discover new items that fit exactly in my Blue Sense Portfolio.

Social Media has become an essential of the fashion business. Which platforms do you use and how are they managed?
No question at all: a lot of our customers are engaged in social media as well as our suppliers and many relevant influencers like fashion bloggers. Setting up and maintaining our stakes on Facebook, twitter and blogger relations therefore is an indispensable necessity for us. Engagement on some other platforms can also be relevant for us. For the time being we are in a “listening” phase: We try to understand, where our stakeholders are engaged and which content is valuable for them.
Some projects are already in preparation: we are planning to produce some video clips with bloggers located in Lisbon which have direct links to the Portuguese design, fashion and manufactory networks. We would like to build up new relationships with our followers and the world of design & fashion that inspires us so much.

What do you think will be the key-pieces/trends for spring/summer 2015?
Jeans is and will remain trend no. 1, Powerstretch, skinny, high waist or boyfriend. For summer 2015: jumpsuits, pastel colors – sneakers.

Apart from clothing, the shop sells non-fashion products like essences
Apart from clothing, the shop sells non-fashion products like essences

What do you like about your location, Heidelberg?
Heidelberg and its ancient castle are well known throughout the world. Every year around 1.8 million tourists from all countries visit our town. Heidelberg represents past and present in an atmospheric combination: you find here the oldest university town in Germany as well as one of the longest pedestrian streets in Europe. 
The beautiful old town center is the heart of Heidelberg. With its small winding alleys and its many small bars, it is very romantic, located closed to mountain and river. Culturally, the city has a lot to offer in terms of theaters, cultural centers and several jazz and film festivals.

Could you tell us your favorite shop worldwide?
The atmosphere I have experienced at the shopping gallery "Palacete Ribeiro da Cunha Embaixada" in Lisbon had a strong influence on my Blue Sense project. Located in a palatial neon-moorish building from the 1800s it presents in different rooms an exciting choice of nice amazing shops combining tradition, creativity and innovation in design and fashion, mostly from Portuguese designers. Here I have found myself, here I feel energy and bubbling creativity.

Blue Sense
Theaterstrasse 2/1
69117 Heidelberg
+49 6221 6567170