Big Celebs and Big Box Products
Click here to read this story in the November issue of Business Review USA!
Written by Nadia Ibanez
What’s with all of these major fashion and Hollywood celebrities offering up low-priced digs at big box retailers like Target, Walmart and Kmart? Martha Stewart was one of the first trailblazers to offer her own line of home and cleaning products at Kmart and model Kathy Ireland designed a line of women’s wear for Kmart back in the day. Then, busty Italian chef Giada de Laurentiis designed a product fleet of cooking utensils, pastas and sauces for Target. Fashion houses Isaac Mizrahi and Vera Wang have also jumped on the wagon and designed an affordable women’s collection for Target and Kohl’s respectively.
The Kardashian sisters brought their bootylicious style to Sears earlier this year to offer clothing, accessories, shoes and jewelry with their stamp of approval. And we can’t forget about the latest designer to come to Target, Missoni, whose first day of sales not only created a Black Friday-esque frenzy of soccer moms at local stores causing every single item to sell out, but also successfully broke Target’s online storefront while so many were trying to login.
Now, our new favorite Latina and “Modern Family” star Sofia Vergara has just unveiled a new clothing line at Kmart full of tight pants, short skirts and booty-hugging dresses – all of which made her famous on and off the TV screen. She tells reporters that she wears everything from her line and has worked with a number of fashion experts to get the collection to exactly where she wants it. She’s designed for the average woman, of all shapes and sizes. Finally.
Songstress Gwen Stefani has just announced a new Harajuku Mini collection for Target, which will be available November 13 in sizes 6 months to 16 years and ranging from $4 to $30. Stefani tells Women’s Wear Daily that she’s “always wanted to do a cool children’s fashion line inspired by the super cute and playful kid’s clothing you find in Japan.”
“Target has given me the creative freedom to design kids' clothing that is different than most anything you usually see out there with great quality, attention to detail and most of all, available at amazing prices,” she says.
So it seems like hitting up big box retailers is the way to go when it comes to getting through the recession. The masses already flock to these stores for normal household items, so why not bring affordable, luxury fashion there, too?
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.