Canada's Fashion Brands Bring High Fashion to the Masses
Fashionistas and designers alike flock to Toronto annually in March to partake in celebrating the upcoming Fall and Winter 2012 collections. High fashion is on everyone’s mind this month due to World MasterCard Fashion Week occurring March 12th through the 17th.
Once tents are taken down and runways dismantled, there are Canadian businesses that take high fashion attributes and implement them into a variety of clothing lines for consumers and retail shelves. This month Business Review Canada is highlighting some of Canada’s most successful and prestigious clothing brands.
Who says Winter weather coats and parkas have to be bulky or boring? Canada Goose designs and manufactures innovative and high quality outerwear that is so fashionable some consumers just can’t wait until Winter for their fashions. Ready for any type of weather, Canada Goose’s line offers many features to protect you in any situation. From the streets of Milan to research factories in Antarctica, Canada Goose’s clothing is widely renowned as superior.
When it comes to those cold winter months, Canada Goose has the Canadian advantage. Named after a nation that sees some seriously cold temperatures, Canada Goose manufactures authentic extreme weather gear while based in Canada and has been since 1957. Tried and tested, Canada Goose makes sure its product can withstand anything. The company has participated in field tests that included feedback from Canadian Arctic Rangers and the US National Science Foundation researchers in Antarctica.
Offering consumers truly fashionable while functional outerwear, it’s no surprise Canada Goose has seen global success.
Even though exercise usually leads to less than fashionable looks, Lululemon is trying to help consumers combat that with their highly fashionable athletic line. Based in Vancouver, BC, Lululemon got its start in 1998 after Founder Dennis Wilson noticed a lack of women’s durable yoga wear made from technical athletic fabrics. Lululemon’s initial success is a direct result of yoga instructor feedback from testing the new clothing line while teaching classes. Implementing fashionable designs has taken the company from one store in Vancouver to an International successful athletic clothing brand.
What’s different about Lululemon is how committed the company is to the health of its consumers. In the end, the company promotes that Lululemon isn’t just a clothing brand, it’s a lifestyle. Creating strong ties to local communities, Lululemon hosts in-store events to benefit its consumers ranging from self defence classes to goal setting workshops. Even more, consumers can get good use out of Lululemon products; the company offers complimentary yoga classes led by the company’s community ambassadors.
Well known for high quality leather goods, Roots has taken its founders Michael Budman and Don Green’s passion for Ontario’s Algonquin Park and translated it into a successful fashion brand. A Canadian lifestyle brand, Roots is globally known for its authentic products that include leather goods, athletic wear, accessories and home furnishings. Getting its start in 1973 with one small store in Toronto, Roots has grown into an international company with 160 retail locations located in North America and Asia.
Inspired by the country from which it operates, Roots appreciates the nature, culture sports and human diversity Canada provides to its citizens. The company’s core principles, a commitment to health, wellness, and environmental protection, have governed Roots since its beginnings and are part of the reason why its designs see such success.
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.