Thomas Wylde, a luxury lifestyle brand based in L.A., creates some seriously glamorous clothes and accessories.
And as COO of the company, Jene Park helps create the environment where these beautiful things can come to life.
Jene earned her Creative Executive cred during a decade at BCBG Max Azria, where she rose from being an unpaid intern to a key leader driving the brand’s growth.
Jene has been the child of a struggling single mom in Korea, a fashion student in an unfamiliar country and a successful businesswoman. All of those experiences inform the way she runs Thomas Wylde today.
Leadership in a creative business has its own set of challenges. We love how Jene approaches it:
What to hire for. Common sense and work ethic. “Everything else I can teach,” she says.
Nix the dumb stuff. “The best thing about running a company is that I set my own system,” Jene says. She’s axed a lot of meetings, reports and other things that take time away from the real work.
These should be your favorite words to hear: “I made a mistake.” Seriously. Jene wants her people to feel secure about coming to her when they mess up because then she can help them learn. “But I’m going to be harsh, if you make the same mistake twice,” she adds.
Inspired people = strong company. All of us who lead know that it’s hard to put the time we should into mentoring, teaching and training when there’s so much else clamoring for our attention. But Jene makes it a priority. She wants the people who work for her to feel excited and eager to learn every day. It’s worth the time investment. “For them to grow is better for the company,” she says. “You’re never going to get anywhere with an office full of uninspired people.”
Appreciate. Jene believes that when people leave a company, it’s less about salary issues and more about a lack of appreciation. Notice. Say thank you. Drive home that what they’re doing means something.
Your employees need a life. And “a life” doesn’t mean working 24-7 to advance your company. Jene is a big believer in limiting work to the standard workday. If doing the job right requires crazy hours, they’re either not right for the job, or your company is set up badly.
Trust and respect. Jene doesn’t want her people to have to burn sick days tending to commitments like their kid’s doctor appointment. She trusts them to adjust their own schedules around commitments like these. It goes back to hiring people with a work ethic. When you give this kind of trust, she says, your people give more. And they don’t get bitter and burned out.
Part One of this interview can be found here.
If you’ve been silently (or not so silently) saying “yes!” to all of these points as you’ve read, you’ll also like what we teach in The Creative Executive Method ® course. Check it out and start putting your own stamp on creative leadership.