The Top Women in Retail 2016: Gina Collins, Chief Marketing Officer and Brand, Build-A-Bear Workshop
What do you enjoy most about working in the retail industry?
I spent more than a decade in CPG and, while the pace was fast, you can’t truly understand retail until you’ve worked directly in the vertical chain. One of the things I enjoy most is making an impactful business decision on a Monday and seeing the results reflected in the business as soon as Tuesday.
If you weren’t working in the retail industry, what do you think you would be doing?
I find the “organic” food and beverage industry fascinating, and entertainment is in my soul. But there really are too many to choose from. For now, I wouldn’t have it any other way. The sheer pace of retail is inspiring.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I’m an accountable leader, who tends to be very candid and a bit on the tougher side by nature. At the same time, I’m always fair and put the human aspects of business first. I accept that we will make mistakes; the key is to ensure that we don’t make the same one twice.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received, and who gave you the advice?
While I’ve been fortunate to receive amazing advice throughout my career and have many examples, there are two I come back to on a regular basis because they remain relevant and applicable across numerous situations. My father, also an accountable leader, told me to never second-guess who I am or the instinct that comes from the experiences that make me the person I am. I’ve found that in instances — due to pace, pressure or a variety of other inputs — where I’ve gone against my instinct, the result is less than if I had gone with my initial instinct.
An amazing friend and colleague from the entertainment industry once shared his thoughts with me regarding the impact of email on communication, and it’s stuck with me in almost every stroke of the “send” button. Email is simply a fast, tactical tool for answering quick, day-to-day business needs. It doesn’t deliver strategy and it doesn’t deliver intention; it’s not confidential and the perception of emotion in email can produce less-than-intended results. Leaders need to use their own voice and take the time to ensure that their teams are aware of the value of pure understanding.
Do you have any mentors in the retail industry?
I joined the Build-A-Bear team to learn from Sharon John. From our first telephone conversation in 2013, I knew she was special and possessed a humble brilliance that she was willing to share. Having her guide me over the last two years has been a privilege and a pleasure.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I’m a bit of a physical fitness junkie. I love trying any new class, technique, piece of equipment, etc. I’m also a mother of an eight-year-old daughter, and it’s been fun to share this interest with her. We recently participated in a new “family” yoga class, and it’s now on the regular list of things to do together.