Christopher Lacy: (Executive Retail Leader, Founder of CL Consulting, Co-Creator Host of Retail Revolution Podcast and Assistant Professor at Parson School of Design)
Gucci, Omega, Donna Karan and Barneys New York are just a few of the well-known brands Christopher has worked with in his 20+ years. He has developed a specialty for creating meaningful customer experiences especially for affluent clients. Lacy is the Founder and CEO of Christopher Lacy Consulting a firm dedicated to building strategic client and team development programs. Through leveraging data from quantitative and qualitative research, CLC combines deep industry knowledge with leadership, sales coaching, CRM data, and operational expertise to elevate brand profiles and client experience.
Christopher is currently Assistant Professor at Parsons School of Design in the Fashion Management graduate program as well as Curriculum Developer for Parsons New School Executive Education Program. In addition to teaching at Parsons, he is also Co-creator and Host of Retail Revolution Podcast which features in-depth conversations with experts in omni-channel retailing with myriad perspectives: technology, consumer engagement, data analytics, merchandising and more. Christopher has shared his knowledge and industry outlook by facilitating workshops for Polimoda, writing articles for WWD, providing insight to Business Insider and participating on multiple panels including Fashinnovation NYC.
Read on to learn more about Christopher’s Pivots, career insights and successful Retail Revolution Podcast…
As a seasoned retailer running multi-million-dollar luxury category businesses, what is your take on the current state of retail and where brands need to position themselves in 2021 to ensure success?
This is a time when retailers can rethink what the customer’s in-store experience should really look like. With fewer customers having the ability to engage in that physical space it is a time for brands to connect with customers and ask, “What was frustrating for you before, and what do you want when you come back?” In addition to that, and I have said this for years is making the E-commerce experience more engaging. Ralph Lauren recently did exactly what I have been talking about.
They created a virtual store of their actual Beverly Hills location. To me this is what e-commerce should look like.
You should be able to engage online with any store in your fleet virtually. For example, if I am in Dallas and I go to your website how can I really explore your brand in different markets.
What are you most proud of that you have taken away from your retail experience that you see as the foundation that has made you a successful in launching your brand consulting business and also as a professor for Parson School of Fashion?
Bob Proctor once said that, “People think management is about the direction of things but it’s really about the development of people.” This is true to my development and most important takeaway when I look at my career. I spent so much time engaging with people as a leader, a peer, an employee, sales associate etc.. that the biggest takeaway was, how can I develop myself and, in the process, develop others.
You have successfully navigated so many great pivots in your retail career, from Leadership roles, to Operations and Learning and Development. What has been your favorite role you have held and why?
That’s a tough one because each role was important for me at that time in my life. So, for me when I look back at each moment I can see and remember how I learned something that I didn’t know before about myself and the industry. They say that you are exactly where you need to be for the lesson you need to learn or the experience you need to have. Having said that, I would say my favorite role is where I am now. I am the owner of a firm that focuses on leadership and team development as well as operations, I host a successful podcast, Retail Revolution Podcast, I also am an Assistant Professor for one of the most prestigious schools in the world, Parsons.
My role or roles now combine everything I have learned over the years while still pushing me to learn more but simultaneously giving knowledge back to others. It has allowed me to engage with people I don’t think I would have ever had the pleasure to meet. I also feel like now I am in a position to create significant change in the world.
What skills do your believe retailers possess that are relatable in other industries and which industries should a reader be looking at if they are wanting to get out of the retail space?
Anyone who has ever worked in retail will tell you that there is a rigor that most people don’t understand.
You are trying to provide great service at times when the tools are not there to do so, you are smiling when people are yelling at you, you’re worried about tomorrow’s numbers even though you had a great day yesterday.
There is always a sense of angst and joy that holds your sway.
Resilience is a skill that people in retail have like no other, especially those in store line roles. Resilience doesn’t mean you can just handle pressure, but it means you can see the solution to the issue, and sometimes the solution is just to wait.
To the second part of your question, anyone reading this should not necessarily look for a specific industry but instead look at their talents and see what industry they could best leverage those talents. This is the hardest part because we don’t always, we don’t hardly ever, truly see what our talents are until we are put in positions or situations where we need to flex different muscles.
I know you have interviewed and hired A LOT of people.
When do you know you have the RIGHT candidate for the job as you meet many different people and how can someone truly stand out in an interview process?
This could be because I ask questions that tell me about a candidate’s thought process and personality. I rarely focus on hard skills because if the person has the correct personality then I just know. People who stand out to me are people who have done developmental work on themselves. I mean they have taken an Insights Discovery Color Personality, or a Clifton Strengths Assessment to understand what they bring to the table and how it would fit in my organization.
They can speak to it and define how the role they are applying to fits into the development of them as a person and team member.
I am in LOVE with your Retail Revolution Podcast and the incredible guests you have highlighted since its inception!
What brought you to create the Retail Revolution podcast and how do you see it evolving in 2021?
Thank you so much, I’m happy to hear that! If your readers have not done so then they should listen to your episode on Retail Revolution Podcast. This venture came about in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Joshua Williams and I were both set to facilitate the Retailing and Service Design course for the MPS Fashion Management Program at Parsons.
The class was set to begin in May and Covid-19 was full throttle. We both knew we wanted to create a meaningful experience for our students, so they still felt connected to the industry. Joshua suggested a podcast and the rest is history.
It was intended just to be for students and now we have grown to over 58 countries, streaming on all major platforms and just wrapped Season 3.
I am really excited for what our listeners will experience with Retail Revolution in 2021. You will see some partnerships, the start of workshops, a bigger focus on community. We are really going to go big in 2021 and I am super excited about it!
What is ONE thing you think someone can do today that could get them closer to their goal of getting hired or career pivoting?
I can’t stress this enough. It is super important to look at every role you had and think about what you did, not just the task but how did you leverage your talents that could be beneficial in your next role. At the same time, you are doing that you should be thinking about what excites you and what doesn’t excite you.
This is a very important step for future success.
How can we find you and support the Retail Revolution Podcast and any other new adventures of the Fabulous Christopher Lacy?
Please subscribe on your preferred streaming platform, Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, Tune-In and Amazon! Also please feel free to donate.
You can also follow Retail Revolution podcast @retailrevolutionpodcast on Instagram and LinkedIn.
You can follow me @christopherllacy on Instagram and Christopher Lacy on LinkedIn.
Listen to Christopher and my podcast on Retail Revolution- Streaming NOW