If there’s someone who knows Action inside out, it’s supplier Charlette van der Drift. The brain behind the wildly popular underwear line Ziki is 67 years old and was on board back when Action was founded in 1993. We talk to Charlette about what it was like then, what it’s like now, and what it will be like in the future.
Charlette, how did Action find you? Or did you find them?
“Before I was in the underwear business, I worked for a socks company. And as I’d also had a tights business before that, my knowledge of materials and fabrics stretched far and wide. The people at Action heard that I was the right person to get in touch with. That’s how I ended up sitting – literally – at Action founder Rob Wagemaker’s kitchen table.”
And things went well?
“Yes, we seemed a good match. We started delivering stock lots of socks. With Action growing quickly, we moved from the kitchen table to some garages in Medemblik. I remember it like it was yesterday – the office brimming with samples, and every now and then a section of the table was cleared for me to show my socks. I went on to start my own business, and have moved on from socks to underwear.”
How do you know when a particular product is right for Action?
“As a supplier, you need to have some Action DNA in you, and act as an extension of Action. When I’m having a drink outside on a terrace somewhere, I always look at what people are wearing. I also think, are they a potential Action customer? That’s when your mind turns to business ideas.”
Where are you focusing more of your efforts?
“Differences between countries. A French woman looks at a product, likes the look of it and buys it. A German grabs a product, feels the quality and then heads to the till. A Dutch person looks at the price straight away. We have a saying: if we can sell a product in the Netherlands, we can sell it anywhere in the world. That’s why I’m forever thinking, is that a product Action can sell? Is the quality good? And can we offer it at the very best price without selling the product short?”