Over the course of two years, the staff at Kith has grown from 50 to almost 200 employees. It’s been good for business, but Fieg admitted that leading this many people has been an adjustment.
“I’m a perfectionist, so making sure things are perfect is really difficult,” said Fieg. “I can’t be in my Miami store with a salesperson as they are speaking about the new product that comes in. I can influence, but I can’t control how people feel and think about the product we spend so much time on.”
According to Fieg, the conversations he has with Kith staffers have made him think differently and have also helped drive the business forward.
Here, WWD speaks to Kith team members about what they’ve learned from Fieg and how they see the business evolving.
Nick Annacone, vice president
Year Started: 2011
WWD: How do you complement Ronnie?
Nick Annacone: Ronnie is very much the dreamer and I do whatever I can to help bring his ideas to fruition. With this said, I am extremely pragmatic and really try to follow the “measure twice, cut once” mantra. In such a fast-paced environment, I understand the importance of keeping things moving and trying to stay a step ahead. Ronnie pushes us all to really go above and beyond and he’s the driving force of everything we do. Being with Kith from the beginning and being so close to Ronnie has allowed me to have insight into all aspects of the business and really understand what he wants and the way he thinks.
WWD: How do you think the business/business model has changed in the last three years and how have you adapted to that?
N.A.: The business has changed in such a significant way in terms of size that it’s tough to even comprehend. The market has also changed, but what we do and what our model is, has not. I think we were able to adapt mostly because of our team. We’ve really made it a point to hire people who share the same drive and same passion. This is how we’ve been able to keep pace.
WWD: What do you see for the future?
N.A: The future of the business is to continue to push boundaries and outdo each one of our previous projects. Our identity will always remain the same and we’ll continue to do things that we believe in and genuinely love.
Rachel Zimmerman, director of marketing
Year started: 2015
WWD: What have you learned from working with Ronnie?
Rachel Zimmerman.: I learned from Ronnie that you don’t always have to follow the data, the trends and the market if you have something more powerful, which is passion.
He also taught me never to take no for an answer. Remain committed, keep pushing and find a way to make it happen. He’s shown me how to push beyond what seem to be the practical, possible limits. Every day Ronnie reminds us that every single detail matters and never to compromise quality. Mediocrity is not an option.
WWD: What do you think makes marketing authentic for the younger consumer?
R.Z.: The younger consumer is obviously savvier today than ever before. I don’t believe they want to be “sold to” or even feel they’re being “marketed to.” For the marketing team at Kith we focus on three pillars when building our marketing strategies: (1) Give the consumer more than they’re paying for; (2) Create unforgettable experiences; (3) Show product in the true context for which it was created. Product will always be king for us but where we take it one step further is in the way we present the product. We want our consumer to feel they’re a part of the brand, a part of the team and have a connection to the products we create for them.
WWD: How do you think the way you market a brand has changed from even five years ago?
R.Z.: I think you have to do a lot more today than five years ago to make a splash. At Kith there’s no thought of a “rinse and repeat” strategy. Every single project is different, every single strategy is different, and every detail matters. Things are happening at a much faster pace than five years ago and you absolutely have to have a team that can keep up. We have some incredible young talent at Kith, which really helps drive us forward. A real understanding of and connection to the culture is critical.
WWD: Do you think Kith would ever consider “traditional” ads? Print advertising, etc.?
R.Z.: It’s hard to say. I don’t think so, unless we find there’s a way to do it differently and send a message. You haven’t seen that from us to date because we have focused on engaging the consumer through experience. But then again, trying to predict where Ronnie will take Kith is never a safe bet.
Mikol Stambaugh, vice president of brand
Year Started: 2013
WWD: What have you learned from working with Ronnie?
Mikol Stambaugh: I think the most impactful thing I’ve learned is that you can never dream too big. Year over year, project over project, collection over collection, item over item, he always wants to improve, one-up ourselves and push the envelope in anything that we take on. I’ve also learned a ton about business and surviving in this extremely competitive industry.
WWD: What do you think the customer expects from Kith apparel and how are you differentiating the brand from what else is out there?
M.S.: Our customer expects the world from Kith apparel. They want new, they want different, they want quality and they want it yesterday. We differentiate ourselves on many levels but I think what is most evident is Kith’s diversity. Our product offerings are extremely wide. We are comfortable in many lanes: high, low, luxe, athletic, technical, street, leisure and everything in between.