Retail Icons Share Life Lessons and Macro-Trends: Part 1

March has become famous for many things, college basketball brackets, crazy weather patterns and here at ASI we have been celebrating #MarchRetailMadness! Earlier this month, ASI President, Nancy Jackson and CEO Ron Jackson attended EuroShop, one of the world’s largest retail trade fairs in Dusseldorf, Germany. This week, Andrew, SVP Nat. Accts., and Rachel Cooper, SVP of Sales, are attending GlobalShop (look for next blog with the recap). In the spirit of all things retail, we also debuted a video reel showcasing successful retail brands’ Creativity and Collaboration®, ICYMI: Get inspired by viewing here!

Bon-Ton                                       Vera Bradley                                 Macy*s

Nancy and Ron were excited to see so many exciting new materials that ASI can introduce to the US market!

Just a sneak preview of what’s to come…. vinyl rugs with exceptional digital printed quality that simulate old world Persian carpets and Cuban tiles: a perfect, cost effective way to enhance a brands visual merchandising initiative.

Also, the next generation of bespoke dimensional wood wall panels that will surely be a “go to” finish when a signature/iconic look is wanted. And, a concrete wallcovering that is a combination of sweet and sick, hence our newest collection launch, SWICK™ Natural Wall Surfaces.  It’s all happening soon!

Taboon Vinyl Rugs                                                                 Concrete Wall Coverings

Another important event this month was International Women's Day! Feeling girl power and the excitement of retail month, I thought this was the perfect time to share with you the very special event we had in the ASI Showroom during the Retail Design Collective. An all-star panel of women leaders in the industry shared advice on how to manage it all - plus gave us a first-hand look at top retail macrotrends. I was so inspired by the panel and the Women's Movement, that I decided to create this 2-part blog series, where I will highlight the panelists invaluable life lessons and first hand experiences with all of you!

From Left: Linda Lombardi, VP Global Retail Design, Godiva; Megan Gundrum, Director - Store Planning, Hudson's Bay Company; Kathleen Jordan, Principal, Gensler New York; MJ Munsell, Principal, Retail Design Lead, MG2; Cindi Kato, VP, Director of Business Development, CallisonRTKL and Nancy Jackson, President, Architectural Systems.

In the Press! Retail Design Collective panel at ASI in Shop Retail Environments and VMSD

Kicking off the blog series, is a woman with a big personality and an even bigger heart, Linda Lombardi.

Linda emphasized the importance of staying extremely organized in everything she does.  Crucial components of her success strategy lie in being decisive and having solid support around her (ie: a nanny or babysitter, or good after school programs). “To have balance, your family must understand your business and your business has to understand your family.” A wonderful example she gave was, compassion for needing to leave work early on Halloween to take kids trick-o-treating, “Just let the parents go home, It’s a really big deal!"

Linda’s take is experiential- Malls are becoming more of a destination rather than just a place to shop.  One illustration of this is how Godiva is bringing a café concept to the malls by creating an open-air environment that offers a place to sit back and relax for a moment and enjoy the shopping experience.  

Godiva Chocolatiers, dash design

MJ’s confidence and uber cool style (check out her cheetah pants above!) certainly made an impact on the well-attended crowd during the panel session. Here are some valuable lessons:

MJ reminds us that being present (“I have FOMO”) and focusing on the current moment and who she's with is key to maintaining balance in her life.  Rituals have also become an important break in time where she can connect with her teenage daughter, setting aside time where they can "press pause" and be together where they reconnect at the end of an intense day.

In the retail industry, MJ is seeing the rise of “fast-food casual” within the food and beverage market segment.  Retail must return to what it’s always been - great customer service, beautiful stores, and great products" for an all-around "honest" experience in order for brands to thrive. 

Tommy Bahamas, MG2

My favorite social media advocate and retail superstar, Cindi Kato is always on the go, balancing work, family and a busy travel schedule.

Some of Cindi's most crucial role models have been her woman peers, and as such learned that it's integral to always be a mentor to the people that work for her, who have now have become “an extension of her family."  Cindi also explains the importance why you need to be a supportive figure to other women in retail - the industry is still very much male dominated even in her leadership space.


“The customer experience is most important. Visual merchandising, one-stop shopping, and being able to build and design a successful retail experience are all factors that combine to facilitate this happening. Cindi also stated that retail trends are veering toward a more holistic approach and shopping has become more about the destination and finding a respite away from the everyday chaos of life.

Nike Store, CallisonRTKL

Stay tuned for the next blog post, with more from these industry superstars and visit the ASI Retail Panel YouTube Channel for the best of "How Successful Leaders In Retail Live A Branded Life" panel.

Posted at 3/30/2017 7:50 AM

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