In recognition of Women’s History Month, MR continues its salute to Women in Menswear with the always exuberant Jamee King, EVP Sales, Moose Knuckles Canada.
Do you feel being a woman has helped or hurt your career?
It’s interesting: when I began my career in the ’90s, it was a very different era. While I don’t feel being a woman set me back, I noticed the unfair advantages men received 20 years ago and still notice this today. You can focus on the negative or turn it around by remaining laser-focused on your work and the contributions you can offer to a business. I love being the only woman in the room! I revel in uncomfortable situations and accept the challenge.
Have male or female mentors been more impactful?
It’s difficult to say as I’ve worked for women only about 10% of my career. Lynne Koplin was an incredible force during my tenure at True Religion. When we met, I thought we could be selling Tupperware, it didn’t matter to me. She was beyond remarkable as a leader and really put a spotlight on strong women in the industry. I think that’s what International Women’s Month is about – bringing awareness to strong and empowering women in a space that is often led by men.
What advice would you give to women entering the menswear industry today?
Young women entering this industry should lead with confidence as they bring tremendous value to employers. In addition to integrity and intelligence, today’s young women bring sound judgment, unparalleled productivity, and strong communication skills to the workplace. Although I don’t encourage leading with gender during a job interview, women deserve to be in senior and executive positions because they’ve earned it, not because they’re women.
That said, do you prefer hiring women?
In my opinion, in order to keep a brand relevant, a great sales team needs to be a fruit bowl combining unique viewpoints from both women and men. I’ve been lucky to have worked for companies with a diverse consumer base that prided themselves on hiring diversely. As the world is ever-changing, so too should seasonal collections change. It’s important to work alongside individuals with an interesting outlook, on both business and on life.
Are you happy with your work/life balance?
I often remind myself that I choose to work at the pace and intensity I do for the betterment of the companies I work for. I’ve decided to work as hard as I do because I care deeply for the Moose Knuckles brand and its success. When duty calls, I choose to lead by example and put in the time to push for even greater results.
But each woman should decide for herself what that ideal work/life balance looks like – aligning herself with employers who accommodate her needs. That’s the true celebration of women in the workplace!
What in your career are you most proud of and what goals have you set for yourself?
From a very young age, I was fortunate to have senior-level menswear executives as mentors. They’ve been and remain incredible advisers to me in ways that I hope to be for young people in the future. It’s not the accolades or career benchmarks I’m most proud of; it’s the former peers who want five minutes of my time or ask me to be their reference on a job application. Rewarding moments in my career are most often about how I’ve made colleagues feel and the advice I’ve been able to offer. In an industry that can be ruthless at times, it’s nice to know you can be there for others and help change their career paths for the better.
What would you do differently if you could start your career over?
Not one thing.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received from a mentor?
The best revenge is to sell them!