Gillian Meek’s newest career move is taking her again to acquainted territory. A local of Canada, Meek joined Montreal-based Kamik in February after beforehand serving as president of Keds. She is now centered on capitalizing on the family-owned firm’s made-in-America heritage and sustainability story to construct a year-round enterprise.
Whereas 70% of Kamik’s merchandise are already made in North America, Meek mentioned the model is constantly on the lookout for extra environmentally pleasant methods to cut back its carbon footprint. As an illustration, its Montreal manufacturing unit runs solely on hydroelectricity, and all of Kamik’s vegetation depend on renewable power — no fossil fuels are used.
Plus, circularity is on the forefront, in accordance with Meek.
The model now recycles and reuses over 100,000 kilos of needle-punched felts yearly. As well as, 100% of rubber rejected throughout the manufacturing course of is recycled and utilized in new
merchandise. This leads to 360,000 new black rainboots constructed from scraps every year.
With greater than 20 years of expertise within the shoe trade, Meek shares with FN her management ways on this new function and the way she’s evolving the model for the alternatives forward.
In comparison with previous roles, what’s it like working inside a household enterprise?
Gillian Meek: “My profession has been traditionally in publicly traded, enterprise- fashion environments — large corporations with closely resourced again ends. So that is utterly completely different, which is without doubt one of the causes I needed to do it. The household is wonderful. They’re third and fourth generations [who are] really within the enterprise. After I was on the lookout for what’s subsequent, I needed a state of affairs the place there was unimaginable model fairness, but additionally a chance to reintroduce it to a complete new technology of customers.”
What has been the largest problem and alternative up to now?
GM: “The most important problem and alternative is remodeling right into a consumer-led, brand-focused firm — and reworking to consider the buyer initially. If you try this, [it impacts] every thing, from account progress, the place you promote, how a lot you promote to e-commerce and worldwide progress. The most important problem for me is evaluating all of these numerous alternatives and breaking it down into smaller items that we will be profitable in, one win at a time, as we rework.”
On this new function, what are some management ways that you just’re implementing?
GM: “That is my first time as a CEO. Having worked at Keds, that have was all about empowerment, from the buyer throughout the group. It’s the identical factor right here — empowering the group to take every thing they know in regards to the model and apply that to interested by the right way to join with the buyer. And teamwork. That’s been one other actually necessary ingredient of me coming into this setting: how do you are taking a household, hold the tradition, all of the particular sauce that they’ve as a bunch and have developed, but additionally level it in a path of excessive progress? It’s about investing within the people who find themselves already there and their skills and giving them instruments to develop.”
Kids’ boots carry out nicely for Kamik. What different classes are you seeking to develop?
GM: “We’re actually centered on constructing a full-family assortment. Girls’s is a big alternative for us. That’s type of my wheelhouse, when you have a look at my background. And never simply in boots, however in fall, non-insulated, non-waterproof merchandise — and for spring/summer season, not simply rainboots however [styles] on the efficiency or the approach to life aspect. There’s additionally large alternative in males’s, too.”
By way of retail distribution, the place want to develop?
GM: “We now have a ton of alternative with the purchasers we have already got. We’re seen by many as a
seasonal model, partly as a result of they simply haven’t been uncovered to all the good merchandise we make for the remainder of the season. So after I have a look at our high 10 accounts [such as DSW, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Famous Footwear, Bass Pro Shops] within the U.S. and in Canada, I see a ton of progress alternative to concentrate on digital. We’re actually centered on making our key accounts greater, so it implies that 12 months of the 12 months, product must be on retailer cabinets, but additionally on the
digital retailer cabinets.”
What’s your strategy to the worldwide markets?
GM: “Two-thirds of the enterprise is completed within the U.S., and now we have an enormous alternative internationally to develop. If you concentrate on the muse of the model, now we have an ideal European enterprise that’s growing. Asia has a longer-term horizon for us. We nonetheless have a lot we will do nearer to residence.”