Following six years as Mister B’s Marketing and PR Manager, Nelson Sousa da Cunha has taken over the company in its entirety, picking up the reins to guide Mister B into the future. A big step like that definitely warrants an interview. And while we were at it, we also asked Nelson about his plans for the internationally renowned brand, and about the legacy of company founder Wim Bos.
Congratulations on the acquisition of Mister B! What do you feel now? Pride? Satisfaction? Or also respect for the upcoming tasks?
Nelson Sousa da Cunha: I feel all of the above! I am proud to be the new owner of such an amazing brand; I am satisfied to have closed a chapter of more than a year of negotiations; and I have a healthy respect for the big task ahead, one that I can finally focus completely on now that the company is mine and I can implement my ideas. Mister B is a brand that has existed for more than 23, years and many things have grown organically. During the 6 years that I have worked here, I have come to know its strengths and weaknesses, and now, I can finally work on the things that are needed to launch our company into the future.
How long did the takeover process take? What hurdles had to be overcome?
This process took up almost a year and a half – you have to care of the standard things such as price and finances, but there is also the emotional side of things. This is Wim Bos’s baby, it’s part of his identity and legacy. He wanted to make sure that it is in good hands. That was also an important factor during the acquisition process.
Mister B is a successful, global brand, so the question why you wanted to take over the reins seems almost superfluous, but still: What drove you to tackle this task?
Having been the Marketing and PR Manager of Mister B the past 6 years, and in some way also the face of our brand, since Wim was attending fewer events in the fetish scene, it almost grew naturally. Mister B also feels like a part of me. Together with my colleagues, we all built this brand to be more than just Wim Bos – it has become a way of life for many, and there is no better motivation to continue something than having this desire that comes straight from the heart!
“We all built this brand to be more than just Wim Bos – it has become a way of life for many.”
Which new ideas, visions, plans, etc. do you want to implement at Mister B?
Mister B has a very strong brand identity and visibility; it’s something that we worked on for many years. Now, it’s time to reap the benefits of that achievement by professionalising many facets of our company, the goal being to translate the brand value into more sales, more happy customers, and even better products.
What goals have you set for yourself and in what direction do you want to take Mister B?
I want to renew the focus of Mister B. For a very long time, we have been playing the wholesale, retail, web game by applying many ideas to all three channels at the same time. I want to focus on each of them individually, and each facet of this company should get a tailor-made approach that best suits that part of the company. The brand is there, but what do you really need for wholesale success? And what is best for retail? These two factors don’t always go together well, and my goal is to make sure that each department can grow to its full potential.
Will the management change at Mister B have any effects on the customers? Will anything change for them?
Fortunately, I was able to buy 100% of the shares, which includes a great, driven, and enthusiastic team. By having 100% of the shares I don’t need to take other interests into account. I believe this way we can switch faster, react better, and not get lost in bureaucracy. Together with the team, we can continue building a company that is bigger, better and more professional. Customers will notice more professionalism, which is something that I have wanted to achieve for a long time. By no means am I saying that we were not professional before, but the world moves at a fast pace and I believe we have not always kept up with its pace… my goal is to take a fresh, new approach to meeting and exceeding our customers’ expectations.
“Together with the team, we can continue building a company that is bigger, better and more professional.”
What did you do before you started working in the industry?
I worked in telecommunications for several years, in marketing and sales. I worked worldwide, from Chile and Argentina to Malaysia and Thailand, with Europe in between.
Will you be able to incorporate these experiences into your new task?
It is hard to tell which exact experiences will shape this new task; my life is one big experience of challenges, growth, and believing in what I do. I do not have a recipe ready that I get out over and over again. I just go with the flow, keep a focussed mind, and do it from the heart. That is how I’ve always worked, that’s how I do things – with passion. If you believe in what you stand for, then you cannot go wrong. And when you do, don’t wallow in anger or disappointment, pick yourself up, deal with the situation, and make it work.
Did you ever dream of being at the top of the company when you started at Mister B?
No! I didn’t have a set goal. I started at Mister B to have a break from the telecommunications world, my task was to bring this companies’ marketing department to a higher level. If my goal had been to become the boss, then I surely wouldn’t have been able to do my job in marketing well. Too often, I have seen people fighting for career opportunities with all the politics that come along with it. I just focus on my job and try to be the best at it, usually that is what stands out in the end and what people notice.
“I just focus on my job and try to be the best at it, usually that is what stands out in the end and what people notice.”
The brand and success of Mister B are closely linked to Wim Bos. How will you continue his legacy?
Wim and I have gotten to know each other very well over the past few years and we have many similarities when it comes to our sexual development, believing in yourself, taking pride in who we are, and living the life we want and not the life others tried to force on us. These are some of the core values of Mister B, values that I live by, too, so continuing his legacy only feels natural to me and the right thing to do.
What potential do you see for Mister B in the future in this increasingly tough market environment?
The potential I see for the future is the same potential I see right now, and that is being real. Too many brands nowadays launch fetish collections and then you see them at trade shows and they come ask us if they did it right. That is where our potential lies as a company; we know our customers and what they need. That connection with the customers will make them come back. It doesn’t mean that we can have a cocky attitude towards other companies, their business models are simply different, and like them, we also struggle sometimes. We just need to keep believing in what we do and not let ourselves become followers instead of leaders. Competition is good, it keeps us sharp and should motivate us to take ourselves to the next level, and that’s what I want to do with Mister B in the coming years – take us to that next level.