Meet Lori Markman

Lori and I caught up after her recent trip to Oaxaca, Mexico; a state known for its rich traditions and culture. Her trip coincided with the festival of the Day of the Dead, a time to honor the lives of ancestors that have passed. Celebrating life and living with a purpose is a conscious choice of Lori’s. Join us as we talk about the work Lori does for TOMS.

 

 

 

Tell me a little about your career and how you began working with TOMS.

I’ve worked in the women’s clothing industry for 35 years. TOMS is a unique brand with a distinctive niche in the shoe and clothing industry. When they launched, they looked for sales professionals who understood the close relationship between clothing, shoes, and fashion. At the time I began working with TOMS, there was just one silhouette, the slip on apalgata. Now, TOMS is a full-fledged shoe and accessory brand with a range of styles, materials, and updated labeling. With these enhancements and upscale styles, the finer contemporary boutiques are also now selling TOMS. Working with TOMS is different than just selling shoes. My work with TOMS has a purpose. It has influenced me to choose lines that are socially responsible and give my work meaning.

Can you tell me more about TOMS corporate mission?

The founder of TOMS, Blake Mycoskie, is a different kind of entrepreneur. He has an interesting business mind that is focused on how TOMS can affect change in 3rd world countries and for those in need in the USA. By now, most consumers understand the One for One business model. For every shoe purchased, TOMS gives a pair of shoes to a child in need. TOMS has given out over 35 million pairs to date! Most people don’t know that a 3rd of the shoes we give back are actually produced in the same country were they are given. That means, TOMS is not only giving shoes to children in need; their parents are getting jobs in our factories! And TOMS doesn’t just give a pair of shoes one time, they give that same child a new pair of shoes approximately every 6 months as they grow. That enables them to attend school and get a full education! The business model has to be sustainable, and that is why we have so many new styles and products, so that we can continue to give for generations to come.

It’s not just about shoes. TOMS portfolio of products continues to grow. Their eyewear line provides sight to someone in need by giving prescription glasses, simple medical treatment, or cataract surgery. Their new handbag division helps provide prenatal care to pregnant woman. And…TOMS coffee provides water in regions that don’t have access to safe, clean drinking water.

That’s really inspiring… you must love going to work!

After many years working as a sales rep, I am reinvigorated by work that has a purpose. Working with TOMS has influenced me to choose socially responsible lines to represent. It gives my work a deeper meaning.

I think that the Giving Trips are one of the most amazing benefits working with TOMS. You actually see what we do and how it affects families. We never just drop off a box of shoes. Someone from TOMS, or another NGO, actually gets to look in the eyes of a child and put the shoes on their feet. Having the mother thanks us personally is amazing.

Representing TOMS means long hours, many detailed reports, and accountability. I am ready and willing to jump through hoops because I know that my work is making a huge difference to people in need.

We are happy you’ve brought TOMS to TRUShow… what has been your experience coming to TRU?                                              

I’ve been with TRU Show for about 6 years. It’s a terrific show, and I am so impressed how well it is managed.

It is very well attended, and the location and set up make it convenient for buyers to shop. I get exposed to a lot of stores that I wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to work with.


Bare Your Soul

What is your most treasured possession?

My cat, Ziggy.

What inspires you?

I am motivated by my own momentum and reputation in the industry.  The desire to continue to do the best for my customers by providing good service, represent a great product and help them continue to run a successful business.

What is your favorite time of day?

Mornings.  My quiet time with Ziggy before the day gets going, and a bit of yoga to start the day makes me very happy.

Also, my alone time, in my office, at the end of the day, when the phones have stopped ringing and I can merchandise and regroup.

What are you currently reading?

I just finished the autobiography of Graham Nash, Wild Tales; which recalls my musical roots.  Now, I’m reading a book about sustainability in the fashion industry called, Wear No Evil

What do you like to do on your day off?

Drive my 1950 Chrysler Imperial, Agnes, anywhere.

What is your favorite city to travel to?

Seattle, Washington. 

Who would play you in a film about your life?

Susan Sarandon.

If you had a super power, what would it be?

Travel through space without getting on a plane.  I fly way too much, and travel too little…

What is your guilty pleasure?

Being lazy.  Watching T.V.

What sound do you love?

The clanking of pool table balls, and the Ocean.

What is your favorite pair of shoes?

My LAMB boots by Gwen Stefani.

 

Thank you Lori for taking the time to share and inspire us.  You can catch up with Lori and the latest from TOMS at one of our upcoming TRU Show events.

 

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Meet Ken Sollie

Ken Sollie

First appearance gives you the impression Ken grew up on the California coast, surfing in the sunshine. So, it surprised me to learn that he was born in southern Alabama before moving to Alaska as a child. A career in the shoe industry gave Ken the opportunity to make his way to the golden coast and have the lifestyle that includes all the things that matter most to him. I caught up with Ken, at his home, on one of those rare days in between trade shows and meetings with buyers.

How did you get your start in the shoe industry?

I got my start working at Nordstrom in Anchorage, Alaska. I began the trade stocking shelves.  Eventually, I worked my way up to shoe department manager.   When the opportunity arose, I moved from Alaska to open and manage Nordstrom shoe departments throughout Southern California and eventually became a buyer for the department store.  After about 15 years, I became a rep  and began selling lines to retailers.

I enjoy working with independent, family owned and operated stores. My experience gives me the ability to consult with buyers and shop owners on their business management, merchandising, and window displays.   I have a responsibility to them because I can affect their business for good or bad. So, it’s never about just getting the order. I want to be more than a one hit wonder in their stores. I want to have a lasting presence there.

Tell me more about the brand you currently represent?

I represent Latigo, a label under the Footwear Unlimited Company. Latigo embodies vintage, chic designs and a cool, raw, leather vibe.   It weaves together superior materials, stylish design and lasting comfort. The company is managed by a father/son team with solid Midwestern values and a respect for family.   It’s a great company.

What do you love about your job?

I love a lot about my job; the friendships I’ve developed with retailers and wholesalers, the travel to stores and tradeshows and helping stores achieve success. At the heart of it, it is a business that connects people. I like to be out there talking to people. I get to do that every day in this job.

How long have you been coming to TRU Show?                                               

I’ve been coming to TRU Show since its beginning. It’s a unique show that really provides a space for independent merchandisers. The show is organized by similar brand styles. So, retailers can easily browse new brands for their stores. The show layout with individual show rooms reminds me of the days when stores advertised with big window displays. Each exhibitor can set up their room to show off their lines and the retailers get to window shop the whole show.

What has been the biggest change in the shoe industry since you began?                                               

The Internet. Stores have to evolve to compete in the age of internet retailers. While the brick and mortar stores can provide excellent customer service, their customers are also prepared to shop for the best price. So, stores need to be better informed who they are competing with for the best retail price.


Bare Your Soul

What is your most treasured possession?

I don’t place much value in material things.  The most valuable thing to me is my family.

What inspires you?

Happiness.

What is your favorite time of day?

Mornings.

What historical figure would you like to meet?

Elvis.

What are you currently reading?

Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand.

What is your least favorite word?

Yeah.

What is your favorite city to travel to?

Seattle. 

Who would play you in a film about your life?

Bruce Willis.

If you had a super power, what would it be?

Breathing Underwater.

What would you do on a day off?

Go Surfing.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Red Wine.

Where was your first job?

McDonald’s.

What sound do you love?

The Ocean.

What is your favorite pair of shoes?

My OluKai’s.

 

Thanks Ken for taking the time to talk with us.  Catch up with Ken and view the Latigo Brand at our next TRU Show event.