Event Review: Kit and Ace, Building a New Brand

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Joanne Probyn with Kit and Ace speaker, Andrea Mestrovic

On Monday, April 18th 53 people gathered at the Metropolitan Hotel Vancouver for a presentation by Andrea Mestrovic, head of global public relations and communications, Kit and Ace.

The fashion retailer, founded 19 months ago by Lululemon founder’s family, has experienced immense growth. The brand has already expanded to over 700 employees and has 61 stores across five countries.

Excellent survey results and attendee engagement indicate that this was one of the most, well-received CPRS Vancouver event in recent years.

Andrea began her presentation by reflecting on changes in the media. Face-to-face communication, mass distribution, category segmentation, and one-purpose branding have shifted towards crowd cultures (a.k.a tribes), cultural innovation, and discovery.

To illustrate this, Andrea compared the Gap to Everlane. According to Andrea, Everlane’s attention to simplicity and transparency sets them apart. “I have pitched the New York Times in 140 characters,” says Andrea, to further prove her point. Social (media) pitches can garner results; Andrea emphasized the importance of personalization.

Hyperaware audiences are bombarded by 3,000 to 20,000 messages per day (Johnson, 2014), and this experience is a major roadblock for all companies– especially emerging brands. In order to engage with millennials and generation Z, a targeted approach is key. Andrea mentions that while sales matter, “it is the customer journey that matters the most.”

When Andrea was asked how the Kit and Ace team manages to be so calm in the midst of rapid growth, she mentioned that the whole office practices mindfulness. This is done through brief group mediations to get centered before meetings or simply taking a breather at the office space on your own. In this era of information overload, Andrea emphasized how important it is to be focused and to truly experience the present moment. 

Kit and Ace is built on valuing people people’s time. “We help people live full-impact lives,” Andrea reflected. Co-owner Shannon Wilson’s busy life was an inspiration for the business. Kit and Ace aims to create clothing for active, professional people that can be worn day into night. This goal, along with their strong brand, have contributed to their success. In 2015, Kit and Ace garnered more than 5.2 billion non-paid impressions. In addition, Fast Company recently named Kit and Ace one of the world’s most innovative companies.

When asked about the process behind Kit and Ace’s communications efforts, Andrea spoke to their summary of approach, a unique pyramid structure. The pyramid begins with crisis planning that builds a foundation for engagement, leading to gathering data, making a list and distilling the message. She also referenced the four pillars of public relations. Above all, she recommended having a customized crisis plan ready. The rest of the strategy is just “verbalizing and formulating the reason why [Kit and Ace] exists,” says Andrea.

Four Pillars of Public Relations:

  1. Educated

  2. Straight-forward

  3. Controlled

  4. Purposeful

The major takeaway from Andrea’s presentation was a well-presented reminder that a company’s success lies in their ability to understand their audience and be fully authentic, creative, and fearless.

This event was organized by CPRS Vancouver director Joanne Probyn with the support of volunteers Samantha Dutton-Jones, Vanessa Mora, and Christine Brett. Emma Shea, incoming CPRS Vancouver president, congratulated Joanne on her transition into the vice president role after three years serving on the board. Jessica Gares is the incoming events director.

Reference

Johnson, S. (2014, September 29). New Research Sheds Light on Daily Ad Exposures. Retrieved from SJ Insights: https://sjinsights.net/2014/09/29/new-research-sheds-light-on-daily-ad-exposures/

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