Alexa Geovanos speaks at WE@Yale
On April 13th I hosted Alexa Geovanos, Brand President of Chloé Americas for my final WE@Yale talk. The three biggest takeaways from our conversation were 1) if you're starting a job in fashion today, data and CRM are the best areas to dig into, 2) relationships matter and investing into strong relationships with the people you work with will help you go a long way, and 3) modernizing old systems can bring great growth to a luxury brand.
Alexa Geovanos is the Brand President of Chloé, North and South America. Over the last eight years, Alexa has overseen the growth and development of the brand for all product categories, starting as Director of Wholesale and growing that channel 4x in 4 years. As Brand President, Alexa currently manages local retail and wholesale operations, marketing and communications, store planning, logistics, and finance for Chloé and See By Chloé. Alexa is highly involved on Richemont North America’s Senior Management Committee, where she is helping steer the group’s strategic initiatives in the region. Alexa is a 17-year veteran of the retail industry specializing in business development, merchandising, and team building. Prior to Chloé, she held sales and merchandising roles at Theory over a period of nine years, where she launched the Theyskens’ Theory brand working closely with Theory CEO and Co-Founder Andrew Rosen and Creative Director Olivier Theyskens. Alexa graduated Magna Cum Laude from Simmons College with a BA in English.
ON THE BIGGEST CHANGES WHEN WORKING IN LUXURY
When Alexa moved from Theory to Chloé, it came with a new set of rules and expectations. “Luxury is a huge mindset adjustment. You have to familiarize yourself with the values of your customer,’ she said. While at Theory she oversaw sales and merchandising, at Chloé she is “in charge of marketing, supply chain, customer service, digital merchandising, and retail.” One of the best parts of the luxury business is that “when you work in luxury, you have a huge amount of organic brand awareness.” But that also means that “the level of service, everything you do, has to be in line with expectations of luxury. We try to build desirability, exclusivity, and that vision for the customer.” Alexa loves working in luxury but advises that it’s not for everyone.
ON THE BIGGEST OPPORTUNITIES IN FASHION
“Data is a huge area of opportunity. At brands like Zara, they can use it to predict what customers want,” Alexa noted. But data has to be used differently for a luxury brand. “We as a luxury brand can’t copy what other people do. We’re the source of creativity. We can’t use a program to design clothes - that’s the antithesis of what we do. But we do use data to understand our customers through CRM, Client Retention Management. If I were starting in fashion today, I’d look into data and CRM.”
ON THE KEY QUALITIES TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN THE FASHION BUSINESS
Business people have to work productively with creative people. “You have to be able to work closely with creative people. You have to be willing to challenge the status quo because that is what creatives do, and to keep up with that requires an open eye.” At the end of the day, the most important quality is the ability to manage people. “If you want to be in general management, it’s all about the people. It’s about managing them, leading them, inspiring them towards a common goal.”
By Claire Kalikman.