Where to start with the remarkable Susie Kuhn? Yi and I worked with Susie under Nike Inc starting in 2008. Susie has held executive roles and led global strategies for some of retails most heralded brands - Nike, Converse, URBN, and Foot Locker. As a female executive leader, Susie is the one that rallies support for a corporate women's leadership movement, she's the one that fights for her team and she's the one that speaks up. From the inception of See ROSE Go, Susie has championed and supported our mission at See ROSE Go, becoming our valued advisor providing her retail and business strategy expertise. Leading with strength, ambition, generous loyalty and yes vulnerability, Susie is making her mark on the world. Who is Rose - Meet Susie Kuhn.
SRG: Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you please share with us a little about your path and what makes you the woman you are today?
I spent my career in retail moving from buying to product creation to international expansion to general management. Taking a less linear path and simply saying yes to opportunities that sounded interesting has shaped who I am; curious, empathetic, tenacious, self-aware, and ambitious.
SRG: What is the most memorable leadership advice someone has given you?
Your greatest strength is your greatest weakness.
SRG: From Nike to URBN to Foot Locker, you have earned a seat at multiple executive leadership tables. Have you ever experienced imposter syndrome? How did you deal with it?
Absolutely. Sadly I think it’s impossible for women to not have their moments of doubt. In corporate life we as women historically get a lot of feedback about our emotion, approach and style. The archetype of male leadership falls heavily on vocal, earnest and ambitious women. I got my early and mid-career success from being prepared, being detailed, and knowing the structure of how an idea would operationalize. But as I moved up the ranks it became those traits turned into the reason why I was “too” this or that to be an enterprise leader. That preparedness and tenacity threatened and challenged the archetype. It’s very easy to question yourself when that’s the feedback.
SRG: When do you feel your most creative and what puts you in that mode?
When I’m home on weekends. Spending time outdoors, doing home projects, and cooking; those are all avenues for my creativity.
SRG: Being customer-lead is central to our core values at SRG. How have you remained consumer-centric throughout your career in fashion?
I remind myself everyday that because I like something doesn’t mean the target consumer will. I try to bring different voices, opinions and analytics into every business decision. Experience-based intuition is a solid start for some things; but ultimately you have to pressure test.
SRG: We are inspired and in awe of your enthusiastic support of women doing, achieving and going. What drives your passion?
I want the next generation to have an easier time than I did; and I want to be an example of how connected, warm and engaged female leaders can stay their whole career. It doesn’t have to be lonely at the top.
SRG: Top 5 favorite products or routines that bring you joy?
Cinnamon honey latte in the morning
Cleaning out closets/purging (therapeutic)
Drinking wine with a great view
Traveling to see family and friends
SRG: Favorite outfit right now?
I’m obsessed with my Ivy Park / Adidas heavy mesh overcoat. I feel fab and powerful in it.
SRG: Best podcast or series you are currently bingeing?
Queer Eye, the great big flower fight – design and makeover inspiration!
SRG: Coffee or Wine? I think I know the answer!
Don’t make me choose.
SRG: HA! Same here! How about travels - Where are you headed to relax and recharge?
I have a house rented in Texel in North Holland in a few weeks. It’s on the North Sea and the beach goes on and on and on. My dog Penny and I will take it all in!
SRG: We are so thankful to have you as a part of the See ROSE Go community. You make such a positive impact on the industry and empower individuals who work with you. Is there a particular person that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
I always find this question difficult. My mom is my immediate thought; because she is strong, shrewd, generous, emotional, loyal, and lives out loud. But I also had so many women who came in and out of focus at different points in my life, revolving around this relationship and example in my mother. It is the combination of her as a North Star and all those others that make me shine.
SRG: That is a great answer and awesome that you've been surrounded by meaningful people. You emulate this and help other shine too! What is next for you, personally and professionally?
I am settling in to what I want my life to look like. I’m shifting where I call home right now so that my work life (which is fluid, not tied to a location and unpredictable) can revolve around my favorite weather and seasons and bring me calm and beauty.
SRG: Something we can all shoot for. : )
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