Kelly Stickel, Founder and CEO of Remodista has created a global think tank linking retailers to collaboratively forecast the latest trends in retail disruption. Kelly is a modern day female Nostradamus of retail. A global connector in the retail sphere, she has convened a passionate cohort of senior women leading retail to work together pinpointing emergent retail industry patterns, and how to effectively respond to changes.
Tell us about the unique position you were in when you were developing Remodista, and how your CEO gave you the flexibility and freedom to develop and test this concept?
I had a unique CEO, who let me start my underground think tank while working for him. Honestly, I am not sure why he let me do it, but I was bold enough to take the risk and ask. When I did, he said yes! It was a fine line to walk looking back, but he is an entrepreneur at heart. My sense is it was a gut decision. When he sold his business to Accenture in July of 2013, I left to grow Remodista.
Tell us about some of the great moments you have witnessed in retail disruption, which have been orchestrated by female leaders?
We did an 18-month project that started with Lauren Croke, Director of eCommerce and Marketing at Eileen Fisher. Our aim was to spark a conversation within her leadership to discuss the disruption happening in retail. We brought 5 external retail executives into their business to talk with their employees about patterns they had identified, and ways they were making changes. Two quarters later, we brought together 35 women brand leaders and shared all that was learned. Through collaboration, we synthesised the insights and formulated a base line for the disruption occurring.
Disruption isn’t just happening from a technology stand point. Retail organisations are changing how they do business inside the organisation. Business strategy is going global, and technology alone isn’t sufficient to support that. The future of retail is live customer engagement, coupled with web and mobile, and the Internet of Things (IOT) will connect the dots.
You can download our Retail Look Book to see the our insights and analysis.
Why did you choose to launch Remodista Women2Watch (W2W) in Retail Disruption in Australia? What are your hopes for the US and Australian programs?
We didn’t choose Australia, Australia chose us! I met Alice Kuepper, from Online Retailer at the National Retail Federation (NRF) expo in NYC 2016. We invited her to our W2W cocktail reception and the rest is history. Online Retailer was looking for ways to bring in more female executive keynotes, and we wanted to expand our Women2Watch program.
We went to the Online Retailer conference last year, and brought one W2W to do a keynote. This year we are bringing four keynotes with us and 10 of our 80 W2W are from Australia. There are many women owned retail businesses in Australia who are excelling at innovation. It will be fun to build on the existing community with our foundational partners, and help Australian brands expand globally in the most effective way.
What are the emerging trends for retail disruption, which we have not felt the impact of yet?
Large heavy commerce technology implementations are dwindling. Most commerce platforms are heading into the cloud, commoditising that process. The focus for retailers is to shift from the transaction to the customer, which will take brands in new directions, allowing them to customize the experience for their shoppers.
What’s been your greatest challenge?
Not to let fear get the best of me. I have learned to walk with fear right next to me. I should let any entrepreneur know that this fear never goes away, it just shifts into new areas as you find more traction and success. Fear is very nimble.
Cash flow is a challenge when you are boot strapping, and where you must be creative. Being hungry and passionate helps.
What are you most proud of?
I am excited by the success we are seeing in the rest of the community. The gift isn’t what the first or second person does, it is the third point connection that brings unexpected magic. 40 of our 80 Women2Watch 2016 alumni are in new positions or companies. This year, we already have 39 women at speaking events around the globe. In the last year, we saw 22 promotions in our Retail Committee of 20. Our conference partnerships are growing, and we are looking to expand the program to South America, Europe and South Africa in 2018.
What’s some advice for future female leaders?
Have a vision and a detailed end game picture, but be open to opportunity and support that comes your way. The path to that success isn’t necessarily something you control.
Entrepreneurship is not for the weary. You are the only one who truly has the passion and determination to get your idea built and delivered through a mountain of challenges.
If you are a disruptor, you need to have the propensity to be disliked. Being liked is important to some people, but challenging to achieve when you are disrupting the status quo.
It is important to acknowledge that you are not always inspired, and you must continue to put one foot in front of the other despite that.
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