Newly minted Avon president Sheri McCoy made her official debut this week as part of an earnings call and a shareholders’ meeting. She said her immediate agenda includes a global tour through key markets from now through June, including the U.S., Brazil, China, Mexico and Russia.
A friend of mine, a 20-year Avon representative who has earned the prestigious President’s Club honor, hopes she also visits close to home. Getting into the trenches with the representatives can help uncover firsthand the challenges faced and provide an opportunity to understand the direct-sell channel — a different animal than McCoy’s retail heritage. My friend, we’ll call her Elle, actually lives in proximity to McCoy and has seen changes over the past three years that make her business more difficult.
Elle works hard — anyone in town will joke about her “dropping off of books” at every restaurant, health club, dry cleaner and store in town. She has a wealth of frequent customers, and she’s the first to donate baskets of Avon products to causes in town. She’s the mom with the Skin-So-Soft when the bugs invade.
Her smooth sailing has been disrupted by changes in her shipment times and a compression of district managers. While she knows she could benefit from electronic ordering, she sticks to the hand-printed duplicate paperwork. But she’s open to learning the new digital world — with the proper training. Upon attending a product launch event with her, I was surprised just how much the representatives have to lay out, such as buying new items — not to mention the cash bar, which was a surprise to a beauty editor so often feted with free cocktails!
McCoy comes highly regarded and appears to know how much work lies ahead. Learning what it is like as an “Avon person” in the U.S. could probably prove universal in learning challenges faced across the globe. McCoy seems rooted in the real world of Avon consumers, said people who know both of the executives.
During the call earlier this week, McCoy appeared ready for the challenge.
“I am taking a fresh look at every aspect of the business, and stabilizing the business is my first and most urgent objective,” said McCoy, who joined Avon on April 23, after 30 years at Johnson & Johnson. Analysts seem pleased with her attack plan, especially once McCoy understands the peculiarities of the direct-sell channel.
That’s why Avon’s Elle is waiting for Sheri McCoy to call.
People, Places and Things
A few words with Joe Magnacca, president of daily living products and solutions for Walgreens. WWDBeautyNews: What’s the next big store opening for Walgreens?
Magnacca: Puerto Rico! It is a great market for us, and now we are bringing a great new store for consumers to experiment with products and actually play with beauty. We will have our expanded nails and fragrances. Fragrance is a huge market in Puerto Rico. WWDBeautyNews: How was NACDS annual?
Magnacca: It is a great meeting for us. We had a great gathering for meeting the retailers, and we kept busy every minute from there on. Our suppliers are excited about all of the moves at Walgreens. We have many opportunities for beauty companies.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast