1. Media & Marketing

Retail on purpose w/ The Phluid Project’s Rob Smith

This week our guest is Rob Smith, CEO & Founder of The Phluid Project and Get Phluid. After many years as a senior executive working with Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret, Levi’s and Nike, Rob followed his passion for social justice and launched The Phluid Project, a rapidly growing non-binary, gender express fashion brand that is grounded in community and build on activism.

In this deeply personal and inspiring episode, we explore the challenges of being your authentic self in the corporate world and how to best merge passion and purpose in the work we do. And be ready to take plenty of notes as we learn how Rob and team boot-strapped their start up from an original store in Manhattan just 4 years ago to product partnerships with Sephora, Target and Nordstrom.

Then we wrap up the episode with our weekly segment  “Remarkable or Forgettable?” where we give our hot takes on retail headlines, and deem them wow-worthy, best ignored or somewhere in between. This week’s big stories include reflections on how Wall St. retail analysts keep getting it so very wrong, what to take away from Nordstrom and Best Buy’s earnings, Saks’ marketplace dreams, big private brand pushes from Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond and Google’s search (heh, heh) for a physical retail strategy.

“If you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.”

David Bowie

Rob Smith, the CEO and Founder of The Phluid Project, has created a brand, combining his profession, which is retail, along with his passion, a commitment to social justice.

After graduating from Michigan State University, Rob began a long retail career, spanning over 30 years, orchestrating multi-billion dollar businesses through merchandising,  e-commerce, marketing, product development and supply chain management. He worked his way through Macys for over two decades, working within four divisions and finishing with his final position as GMM/EVP Macys Corporate in product merchandising. Gaining new experiences, Rob became GMM/EVP at Victoria’s Secret direct. He was the Children’s Global Chief Product Officer for Nike, Levi’s Jordan, Hurley, and Converse with Haddad Brands.
Rob mentors numerous fashion brands and designers, leads the CSR committee as a Board of Director for Steve Madden Ltd., and raises critical funds for LGBTQIA+ organizations.
 

He’s the former Board Chair for The Hetrick-Martin Institute, which empowers, educates and advocates on behalf of LGBTQIA+ youth around the world and has also served on the board of directors for Athlete Ally, eliminating homophobia and transphobia in sports. Today,  Rob leads and mange’s The Project Project, a leader in gender-free fashion. Phluid, joining a global movement of freedom, authenticity and self-expression, leads with values, a powerful community and a fearlessness to challenge the status quo. Phluid thoughtfully expands into new spaces where they can offer insight, education and impact. 
Rob lives in NYC with his husband, Rod Grozier, and his dog, Jackson

Steve Dennis is an advisor, keynote speaker and author on strategic growth and business innovation. You can learn more about Steve on his       website.    The expanded and revised edition of his bestselling book  Remarkable Retail: How To Win & Keep Customers in the Age of Disruption is now available at  Amazon or just about anywhere else books are sold. Steve regularly shares his insights in his role as a      Forbes senior contributor and on       Twitter and       LinkedIn. You can also check out his speaker “sizzle” reel      here.

Michael LeBlanc  is the Founder & President of M.E. LeBlanc & Company Inc and a Senior Advisor to Retail Council of Canada as part of his advisory and consulting practice.   He brings 25+ years of brand/retail/marketing & eCommerce leadership experience, and has been on the front lines of retail industry change for his entire career.  Michael is the producer and host of a network of leading podcasts including Canada’s top retail industry podcast,       The Voice of Retail, plus        Global E-Commerce Tech Talks  and       The Food Professor  with Dr. Sylvain Charlebois.  You can learn more about Michael       here  or on       LinkedIn. 

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