Surfing on the Spanish creative wave, Belgium born Lili Bettens just opened a new PR agency in Barcelona. Clients include Finger in The NoseBelleroseChaussures ClotairePePe, Little Creative Factory, Du Pareil au Même. Lili explains why Social Media is at the heart of Lili Bettens Agency

You live in Barcelona, why this choice?

I live in Barcelona since 2001. I came after my studies in Belgium. With my husband (we were not married at that time) we wanted to experience the Mediterranean life (we are both Belgians and were familiar to grey sky). We choose Barcelona for the perfect equation: An international place, close to the sea and not that far from our families and friends. Our idea was not to stay forever but having a good experience before going back to Belgium and settle down in Brussels or Gent… But 14 years later, we are still here and happy  with our 3 children.

How do you like it and did the city change a lot since you moved there?

When we arrived in 2001 Barcelona was very popular, we had a hard time finding an apartment and a job. We had little experience and were not fluent in Spanish and Catalan. Our advantage was to speak well other languages such as French, English or Italian. I found a job in an administrative department in HP and worked there for 4 years. In 2006 I left my job to find my own path and in 2008 I started with the press office, Kids_Comunicación.

From a personal point of view it was a very interesting time as I was starting a business but the situation in Barcelona and in Spain was not easy: rentals were getting higher, there was a terrible speculation on everything… Happened what happened: in 2009 started the crisis and we all suffered it.

Spain was considering a “non grata” market so even if we enjoyed living and raising our children in Barcelona, the situation was not easy. But as Helmut Lang said “a bad economy is a big chance for creativity”. Creative Spanish people reacted and now we cannot deny the importance of Spain in the Children’s fashion. We have very creative brands here, blogs and magazines. And this was a good opportunity for me too.

So, how and when did you start your activity in children’s fashion?

When I left HP I had my 2 first children and was really willing to enter in fashion. I helped a friend selling and communicate her creative children brand but it didn’t last long. Then I had a commercial experience at Kiddo Agency and had the chance to meet Finger in The Nose, Kidscase and PePe childrenshoes. The Spanish press was willing to feature this “modern” fashion so I started Kids_Comunicación with brands such as Imps&Elfs, Limobasics, Finger in The Nose, Pepe children shoes and Tammy Donohoe’s.

Now I extended my portfolio and my current customers are Du Pareil au Même, Finger in The Nose, Bellerose, Chaussures Clotaire, PePe, Eva Velazquez and Spanish brands Normandiebaby and Little Creative Factory.

You are launching a new activity linked to  social media; tell us more about that.

For Belgium brand Bellerose, I work not only for the Kids line but also for the Women and Men’s lines. In Spain we didn’t focus only on printed press, we developped good relationships with bloggers and influencers such as Cup of Couple, Style in Lima or Con Botas de Agua. Bellerose realized that the brand received lots of Spanish followers on Facebook or Instagram. They then invited me to open borders and start to contact international bloggers and influencers. It’s a logical path, a natural continuation with what I was doing. We know the importance of Social Media for the brands, and we, as press office, have to go there and get the best reputation for our brands in both digital and non-digital medias.

When I started in communication I read an interview of Anne Chapelle, the managing director of Ann Demeulemeester and Haider Ackermann. Before working in fashion she was a nurse and relate the importance of human relationships: Honesty, passion, respect, care for quality… moral values that I share. My parents were nurse so maybe it comes from there… I like to take care of brands and get the best for them! Working in social Media is really connecting with people and building strong relationships. It’s a very exciting adventure. The agency I launched a couple months ago, Lili Bettens, is based in Barcelona but has an international width.

You also handle the distribution of Styleshoots in Spain…

I am very excited with the new communication agency, it’s a great challenge for me! But I’m a very curious person! Two years ago I discovered Styleshoots at Playtime, there are all-in-one photography studios that makes products pictures faster and easier. It’s a great new technology in photography. With Emilie Marchand, my business partner, we decided to bring them to Spain and we now distribute them. We all know the importance to have great pictures of the collection: you get more visibility and you sell more. Styleshoots gives you the opportunity to make perfect picture in 20 seconds! You can take as many pictures as you can and get a better ranking in google.