Shira Suveyke knows fashion. The EVP, Chief Merchant at THE OUTNET.COM has over 15 years of experience with some of the most highly coveted designer labels in the US.
In her time at THE OUTNET.COM, Shira has led the discounted fashion retail website from start-up to profitable arm of the YOOX NET-A-PORTER Group. Under her leadership sales tripled, and Iris & Ink, the in-house label she launched, now ranks within the company’s top five brands in terms of revenue.
We talk leadership, invaluable business skills, and it would be remiss of us not to cover the three wardrobe essentials she thinks every woman should own (you’re welcome).
What’s a day in the life of Shira look like?
The busiest part of my day is definitely in the morning. I start off with coffee at home, catching up on emails and reading the headlines in both the US and Europe. Heading up a global business means that when I wake up in the morning, our team in London is well into their working day. Each day can be quite varied as I also have the opportunity to travel in my role, but my day is usually a mix of market appointments with various designers, meetings with various YNAP Executives on companywide initiatives, and working with our merchandise and planning teams on our product assortments and special projects.
How did you jump from banking to fashion?
I always had a strong interest in fashion and worked in retail stores during the summer when I was growing up. Math was definitely one of my strongest subjects – I have a natural acumen for numbers. I made the decision to study business and economics in college and couldn’t wait to move to New York and start my career in finance. My first role was in an analyst training program at Deutsche Bank however it quickly became obvious to me that I could apply myself creatively as well as analytically with my skillset. Being in New York, you can’t help but be exposed to the fashion industry and it really ignited my passion and I made the decision to change my career path. I applied to work at Ralph Lauren in the buying department and got the job!
What don’t people know about working in the fashion industry?
I think there might be a preconception that it can be all champagne and parties but it’s definitely hard work and not as glamourous as it sounds. The hours can be long but you reap what you sow and the effort pays off. It’s quite a competitive industry so you need to be able to react quickly and stay ahead of the curve.
What are your tips for making it in the fashion industry?
Having a vested interest in your chosen field is critical. Experience is really important too, so seek as many opportunities as you can. Also keep an open mind and stay positive – just because there isn’t a job open now, it doesn’t mean there won’t be one later, so be proactive. Remember that there are so many different departments within fashion brands such as design, buying and merchandising, PR and marketing, social media and fashion styling. Find a way to apply your unique talents to a job that really suits you.
What do you love most about your job?
I love learning more about our customer; ensuring that we adapt the business to react to what she loves is such an integral part of my role. I also have the opportunity to work with amazing creative talent. We have an impressive roster of designers on the site which includes over 350 brands now. Since joining the YOOX NET-A-PORTER Group almost six years ago, I’ve watched THE OUTNET.COM business grow significantly. It’s an incredibly inspiring and exciting place to work!
Any bits you don’t like?
As with most roles, the hours can be demanding but in its entirety, my job is extremely rewarding and something I really enjoy so all of the positives definitely outweigh any negatives!
What have you learned about leadership?
The important part of leadership is ensuring that you nurture and grow your team – they are one of your best assets. You are only as strong as your team. Make sure to value their hard work and stay patient as things don’t always go the way you want, but it’s good to learn from these experiences and ensure they help you and the team develop as a stronger unit.
Who are you inspired by as a leader?
I have been very lucky in that I have had the opportunity to work with some very inspiring people. I have a select circle of influential and inspiring people in my life who I know I can look to for guidance. It’s important to have trusted resources who you can seek advice and gain a different perspective from.
What do you look for in the people you surround yourself with at work?
I am very passionate about my job and the company I work for. I love to see this emulated in my work colleagues. It’s great to see that they really are ambitious and care about what they do.
What three items should every woman have in her work wardrobe?
I have three definite staples – a white shirt, double-breasted blazer and a pair of cigarette pants. These create the perfect basis for your everyday work look but are also super versatile and can be easily mixed and matched to create so many different looks.
What’s your favourite piece in your wardrobe? Is that like asking you to choose your favourite child?!
Now that’s a difficult question – it’s hard to choose! But it has to be my vintage Rolex, as it was such a personal and emotional purchase and something I bought myself at an important time. It means so much – I wear it every day.
Any tips for travelling for work?
Never over-pack! You end up a slave to your suitcase. I find the chicest women I know are also masters in the art of packing lightly. I tend to have a lot of meetings when traveling so I always pick versatile pieces that I know can easily transition my look from day to evening. I also always make sure to moisturise and stay hydrated when I am flying – that’s a must for me as it helps me to hit the ground running and look fresh when I arrive!