Top Women in Retail 2018: Tina Sharkey, Co-Founder and CEO, Brandless
To see the full list of this year's Top Women in Retail honorees, click here.
What do you enjoy most about working in the retail industry?
One of the things I enjoy most is the personal connection and interaction you establish with people, even in the digital world. We’re building and engaging with the community of people who are buying, sharing and co-creating with us and introducing them to new and exciting ideas with surprise and delight.
What’s the biggest challenge you've faced in your career, and how did you overcome it?
One of the biggest challenges I faced in my career was while I was at Baby Center, part of Johnson & Johnson. I found this extraordinary diamond in the rough, and one of the ways that we revolutionized the business was by cultivating an extraordinary community of motherhood, reinventing ourselves for the next generation of moms who had never heard of us before. We became a partner to walk them through that journey. It was about how to reinvent ourselves and never getting too comfortable.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I’m as good a listener as I am a leader. Part of my role as a leader is to empower my team to discover their own strengths, create their own voice and unlock their own superpowers.
What's the best advice you ever received, and who gave you the advice?
Take things seriously, not personally. This was advice I received during my time at AOL. We were producing a community-led conversation with Bill Clinton that was to be broadcast to our audience and featuring questions from the AOL community. He was asked how he handled challenges during his presidency. Afterwards, he told me he received the same advice from Nelson Mandela while visiting him in jail in South Africa. Taking this to heart, I’ve also found truth and stability separating the personal from the professional.
What one new retail technology or trend do you believe will have the biggest impact in 2018, and why?
Making everyone really feel seen and important is hopefully going to be one of the biggest trends. In retail, I’d love to see investment in physical stores. This could mean using technology as an enabler to build authentic and personalized connections — e.g., a salesperson texts you photos or the barista who knows your name. In the physical world, people are desperately looking for connections to a brand or movement, limited or experiential. I think experience design and creating physical experiences that are bigger than any one person can have a personalized approach.
What do you enjoy doing when you're not working?
I really enjoy spending time with my family. I love cooking with my kids, just having great experiences and traveling with them. I also love hiking and spending time reconnecting with nature. I love the feeling of being at the base of a mountain!
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