So when we started this “birds of a feather” blog initiative we wanted to profile strong women who have inspired us over the years. Very simple. Women who we respect both in business and life.
So far we’ve featured a store owner, an interior designer and a buyer. All of these interviews are so fun for us to do... they help us catch up with old friends (and some new!) and learn from each of their paths.
This month we are profiling Loretta Soffe. We met Loretta about 10 (or more!) years ago at a marketing convention where she was the keynote speaker. She is strong. She is funny. She is no bullshit. She tells it like it is. And we loved her instantly. When we started beek we reached out to her immediately to pick her brain (many times actually) and she was gracious and supportive. And she was patient with our (I’m sure . . .) stupid questions. It’s women like this who make us have faith in women in business. We profile her not because we are thankful for what she’s done for us (although that is FOR SURE) but because she is CRAZY RAD, and we think we can all learn from her and try to be a bit more like her.
beek: We met you YEARS ago when you were the EVP / GM for all of Women’s at Nordstrom. BIG JOB! Tell us your top three take-aways from that experience.
LS: That actually feels like a lifetime ago, but yes, we met when I was in charge of all of the Womens’ divisions for Nordstrom. Honestly, despite it being a huge responsibility and quite stressful at times, it was a great job. I traveled the world, worked with some of the most talented people and designers in the industry (many of whom are still close friends), and I learned how to build great brands. I’d say the most rewarding part of my job was teaching and mentoring people.
There are so many takeaways, and I keep saying I’ll write a book to capture them all, which I hope to do soon. But if I was to boil it down to the top 3 I’d say....
1- Find a way to manage stress and maintain a balance. For me, it was my daily yoga or swimming that kept me calm and sane amidst a ton of pressure.
2- Ask a lot of questions. When working with my team, I used the Socratic Method of teaching which by asking lots of questions, helped to think differently and more effectively.
3 - Surround yourself with smart, great people because ultimately it’s your team that makes you successful.
4 - Just one more ( I told you I need to write a book).... don’t over-identify with your job or title. It is what you do, not who you are.
beek: Since Nordstrom you launched your own consulting agency (yay!), tell us what it’s like to leave a corporate position to go out on your own.
LS: It’s the best thing I ever did. We have 3 teenagers, and when I left Nordstrom, they were 6,8, and 10 years old. Having my own business has allowed me the freedom and flexibility to create my own schedule so I can be a mom and an entrepreneur at the same time. I now have the best 2 jobs ever!
beek: What advice do you have for women thinking about starting their own business?
LS: Talk to as many people as you can who have successfully navigated the process and started their own businesses. I have found that people are always happy to help and mentor others, and share their experience and learnings. I would also remind you to stay calm and positive as you venture out on your own. It’s never a straight line from point A to B. There will be some great moments, but also some tough ones, and you need to pick yourself up from those and keep moving forward.
beek:Ok, let’s get to fashion (you have AMAZING style so we have to go here!). If you could add just ONE THING to everyone’s wardrobe, what would it be?
LS: A feminine blouse so when it’s time to change out of your jeans and tees (because I know we all live in them) you have something beautiful to put on.
beek: If you could survive with only three clothing brands for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
LS: Chloe, IRO Paris, and 3x1 Denim
beek: You’ve travelled the world. Please tell us your top three favorite cities for shopping:
LS: I love to travel and discover new places, and my list of where to go next is always growing. My top 3 cities for the vibe, the people, and the beauty are St Barths, Marrakech and Florence. But for shopping it has to be Tokyo, Paris and of course New York.
beek: What’s one item in your closet that you wouldn’t sell for all the money in the world:
LS: A custom Anya Hindmarch photo print bag with my oldest daughter on it.....my longtime fashion friend from London was close friends with Anya and had it made for me as a present when my daughter Delcan was born.
beek: What is your favorite sandal from the new summer beek collection (I know, impossible to pick just one, but lets try :-)?
LS: The lovebird and the dove....
beek: Seeing that you spent a lot of your life looking at brands and buying, what do you think makes beek different than other brands?
LS: In a world of so much “sameness” and mediocre products, beek stands out because of its impeccable craftsmanship, quality and beautiful design. Finally we can wear a sandal all day or all evening that is actually good for our feet and our bodies, and it looks fabulous! Beek is the perfect brand for a casual luxury chic lifestyle. You guys have totally nailed it.... everthing from your ongoing product innovations, your packaging, social media presence, and aesthetic. It is crystal clear what you are creating and who it is for... and that is what makes a great brand!
beek: Do you believe in ghosts?
LS: No, they kind of creep me out....
beek: Are you more chocolate or vanilla?
LS: Definitely chocolate, no question. I try and eat super healthy but dark chocolate is for sure my weakness.
beek: Favorite fiction book of all time:
LS: Women of the Silk
beek: Favorite rom-com of all time:
LS: When Harry Met Sally
beek: Most embarrassing tv show that you watch:
LS: Honestly, I don’t watch much TV at all. What’s embrassing is that I haven’t heard of most TV shows!