1Please give us a brief bio of yourself, your company, job profile, etc.
I am the Editorial Director at Banana Republic. I sit on the creative team, which is led by Len Peltier. I oversee copy and content for all of specialty, international and Factory, our value brand. I joined Banana Republic two years ago as part of a relaunch. I’m super proud of the work and traction we’ve made in a very short amount of time. Our senior leadership team is amazing and encourages calculated risk-taking and embraces change to evolve the brand — which is a dream for a creative. I’ve built my career working for some of the most iconic American brands, so it is a real privilege to be here telling Banana Republic’s story.
2Congratulations! As the winner of the 2019 Muse Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?
It’s such an honor for the team — especially since there aren’t a lot of industry awards dedicated to storytelling. As someone who leads a copy team, this feels like validation to keep pushing our writing and redefining branded content.
3Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2019 Muse Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?
At Banana Republic, our fabrics are the treasures, so when we were invited to visit the Supima farms during harvest season, we jumped at the opportunity. We wanted to connect this beloved product to our brand’s explorer spirit and create a compelling story that could live on from season to season.
We chose this project for the awards for a few reasons: For starters, we are constantly pushing the boundaries on brand storytelling, so this is a great example of a long-form approach. Banana Republic is curious, connected and out in the world, so this story shows how we are humanizing the brand and creating authentic stories. We also love the evolution of the project: It was small and scrappy — which is not always easy at a large organization. We had a vision, ran with it (kudos to our VP of Creative Len Peltier for trusting our vision), then executed it beautifully. Our Photographer Gwen Rogers has a great eye for humanizing products and our Digital Director Ray Chang is a master at bringing a story to life.
4Where do you see the evolution of the creative industry going over the next 5-10 years?
I think brands will continue to tell more emotive stories — whether it’s through craft, inclusivity, sustainability or something else. I started my career as a journalist in the 90s when there was a real separation of church and state, so it’s been a wild ride to watch the two worlds become one. Now brands are investing in storytelling and I think this is just the beginning for content creation. People no longer seek out brands just to shop — sometimes they just want to discover something new or be inspired (hello, Instagram).
5If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring Muse Award submitter, what advice would you give them?
Ooh, this is a great question that I get asked a lot by interns and mentees. I would say, be passionate. Be ready to work hard, be bold and spirited. There’s no rest for the weary. Constantly push yourself and your ideas. I tell my team that all the time: It’s better to push it and be reined in than be told you are playing it too safe. No writer wants to hear that. In this industry, your ideas are sacred. They are what sets you apart from the pack. Another piece of advice a boss gave me early in my career that feels more relevant than ever is: Don’t be an island. You have to show up and interact with people. I know the trend now is to work remotely but in this creative and competitive space, it’s so important to show up and interact with your cross-functional partners and team. There are conversations you absorb simply by being present. And when you have information, your byproduct is better. Information is power and collaboration is key.
6What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
What’s gotten me this far is the fact that I am extremely curious. When you are curious, you inherently ask lots of questions, take risks and seek out new ideas. As a creative, that’s invaluable. It keeps you and your work relevant. Part of that is also being in touch with other cultures, generations, and perspectives. You never know where your next idea is going to stem from. And lastly, work with (and hire) a team that can bring different perspectives to the table. This is paramount if you want to tell an authentic story.