- Sponsor |
Ambassador Retail is a consulting agency that specializes in training retail staff and turning them into ambassadors for brands. Clients have included brands such as Lee and Zimmerman. In today’s evolving retail landscape, the customer experience can be enhanced by the relationship established with brand ambassadors and personal style curation by in-store experts. Based in California’s Orange County, Whitney Eaton recently shared with FashionUnited what a day in her life is like as Ambassador Retail’s Director of Brand Relations.
What does a director of brand relations in fashion and retail do?
My main responsibility is to maintain the relationship with brands, but it's also important for me to be working with the product and be present on the floor with the staff to find out what their needs are and what consumers are looking for. Also, I’m also responsible for the hiring, training and guidance of all of our brand ambassadors.
Describe to us your work environment: do you work remotely, in the field or from an office?
The set up at Ambassador Retail allows us to work based from anywhere. We have close to forty ambassadors living all across the US. I’m actually based in Orange County, but often travel to Los Angeles to meet with our clients that have hubs there. In general, I travel a lot and it could be in such a case where we need training in a region that we haven’t staffed yet. For example, you could find me working from Starbucks after I’ve led a training session with a staff at Nordstrom.
Even though no two days are the same, what does a workday look like?
In the morning, I like to start my day with yoga or a workout followed by meditation. Then, I’ll have my coffee and practice an abundance mantra that I use to open up the energy for the day.
After that, I begin my workday by checking emails and replying to our brand ambassadors from all over the country with inquiries from store managers and staff or needed details about one of our brand’s product. They also update me if they have a schedule shift in their visit to the stores as we make sure we are diligent in delivering recap reports back to our clients in a timely manner. Next, some new brand collateral will likely come in from our clients such as new styles or recent markdowns and I’ll share that with the team as well.
At the same time, I could be sending a mass email to our store managers at Nordstrom and Bloomingdale's about a sales contest we're holding for the next two weeks and the guidelines. This is also something we manage for our clients that boosts sales and help solidify our partnership. Plus, this gives the opportunity for the brand to be featured on those who have the most consumer influence – the department store staff!
I may continue the day by emailing one of our store managers about scheduling a product knowledge seminar. Afternoons are usually when I’ll plan a store visit, attend an event or work in the field. Lastly, I may also fit in an interview or a training session for a potential brand ambassador new to the team.
In the evenings, you’ll find me winding down by cooking dinner with friends, enjoying Southern California’s outdoors, or catching some live music.
How did you become the Director of Brand Relations for Ambassador Retail?
Back in 2006, I started with an internship and then got into a role working in wholesale sales at a multiline showroom that helped launch brands like Wildfox. This was actually when I met the CEO of Ambassador Retail, Davey Napoli, who at the time was working for a popular denim line. We'd go on the road visiting stores together, educating owners on product and showing the next season’s collections to buyers. Working this closely with our retailers and delivering much needed personal time, allowed for a seed to be planted for Ambassador Retail. We knew there was something more the industry needed, that there was something valuable to consistent brand support and nourishment of the brand/client relationship. As he moved up the corporate ladder to become the VP of Sales, I decided I wanted to step out of the industry full time for a bit to see how I could implement more of a human interaction and connection for all. For about three years, I was a freelance consultant for emerging boutique brands. Having worked with numerous buyers, small boutiques and mostly in sales made me realize the importance of merging brand connection with marketing and education.
As Davey started working for the high-end jewelry brand, Miansai, we came up with the idea of a sales and marketing pop-up experience and the beginning ethos of Ambassador Retail emerged. For a year, I took a mobile showroom and boutique (built inside a 1959 vintage airstream) cross country as we collaborated with music festivals and numerous brands. The goal of this was not just to test new markets, but also to get that instant customer feedback as well as connecting and educating our customers. From this, I noticed that the climate of retail had changed and people wanted more of an experience when purchasing products. Especially with boutique brands, it is extremely important that the merchandise is displayed in an attractive and functional way and that staff are fully familiar with the brand message. This knowledge creates power, connection, and ultimately sales.
Do you have any advice you’d like to give to your younger self?
The world and the industry are always changing, so try to not get left behind getting stuck in former processes and climates. Stay open-minded while taking your knowledge with you. Also, just splurge on those shoes, girl!
What is your go-to outfit?
Professionally, I love a jumpsuit with a statement belt. Also, a pair of great fitting denim, white tee, blazer and heels will translate almost anywhere to anyone. The ultimate favorite item I own is a black leather Diane Von Furstenburg jacket with fringe that I’ve worn out over the years. I’ve got only one side of fringe left, but I still rock it!