Kevin Spight Japonesque

As Told By: Kevin Spight from Japonesque

Last updated on: 2018

As Told By

Meet Kevin Spight, the VP of Sales and Customer Development at Japonesque. Keep reading to learn more about how Kevin has moved from sports and mountains to the beauty industry, what resources he uses to stay updated in the latest in beauty and tech and his experience working with large retailers.

1. Tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get your start in the beauty industry?

Growing up in Colorado, I was more about sports and mountains than beauty and fashion. I spent five years at a small sporting goods manufacturer called Classic Sport, and almost by default, I was lucky to be named the Account Manager for Target at 23 years old. I had no idea what I was doing! I was able to connect with Gene Ringuette, a partner at the sales rep agency Jacobs Marketing helping guide us at Target, and immediately he became an incredible mentor and life long friend.

I followed Gene to Jacobs Marketing in Minneapolis and was given the opportunity to represent multiple beauty brands at one of the coolest retailers in the world. That’s how it got started! Beauty is unique and a fun game. So rare is a category filled with so many passionate customers, intelligent retailers and creative vendors always taking beauty to new heights!

2. As the VP of Sales and Customer Development at Japonesque, what does a typical day in your life look like?

I am fortunate to work alongside such an amazing team at Japonesque, which makes it a blast every day. We have very smart, very cool and very hard working team members here and whether it’s another new opportunity or challenge to tackle, it’s exciting to take it all on together. Lots of laughs, lots of tough conversations and lots of high fives. Being a lean company, I get to mix in with all areas like product development, supply chain, analytics and finance constantly which is incredible. If I can be a positive influence on the company and support the team, then to quote Ice Cube, “today was a good day.”

Kevin Spight Japonesque

3. What inspired your transition from a career at a sales broker agency to the manufacturer side?

Spending 12 years at Jacobs Marketing calling on Target was just the best learning experience. I was able to partner and support really successful brands like L’Oreal, Yes To, Allegro and Pacifica. There was never a shortage of opportunities to develop my knowledge and skill set. But 12 years is a long time these days in a career to be at one place… and after a trek up to Everest Base Camp in the fall of 2017… I knew in my heart I was ready for the next challenge. It was serendipitous timing with Japonesque, just the perfect opportunity to continue on my path. And hey let’s face it…Nor Cal living isn’t too bad either!

4. What does work-life balance mean to you?

  1. I read an article on Jeff Bezos earlier this year that made a lot of sense. Basically, he mentioned that it’s not about “balance” as that means you have to make a choice between work or life. There is a trade off. Bezos said it’s more about “harmony,” as work AND life are correlated together holistically. I feel that sentiment. If I can live my positive life both inside and outside of the office, I’m fulfilled. That’s harmony for me.

5. What resources do you use to stay informed on updates and advances in the beauty world?

There are so many resources, blogs and publications that you can subscribe to or Google to understand what’s going on in the industry. You can comb LinkedIn daily and read up on some informative articles.

However, I mix a little old school with my information gathering. I’m a big fan of leveraging my awesome network and picking the brains of my friends at various retailers, manufacturers and rep groups. The collaboration and sharing of what we can is so helpful. I also make an effort to spend as much time in the stores…not just beauty stores and areas either. Immersing yourself in all aspects of retail is a nice way to identify trends and create new ideas. You can observe consumer behavior and hear their pain points. Have you ever just chatted with someone at Sephora? Consumers and beauty advisors know their stuff… and are happy to share their feelings.

Kevin Spight Japonesque

6. Tell us about your experience working with Target and other big retailers. What are the challenges and successes about working with larger companies?

Target is truly a sophisticated retailer. Navigating the Target world is equal parts exciting and challenging, and I believe that’s an awesome thing to experience. You can literally learn something new every day working with the multiple teams, opportunities and issues. Those experiences will prepare you for just about any scenario.

The other thing to keep in mind is these retailers have so much on their plates and are people too! Some buyers have more than 80 vendors constantly vying for some attention. Big retailers mean lots of meetings, internally as much as external. A misnomer here is more time with a buyer doesn’t always equate to more business. I’m amazed when I see vendors bring 50+ page decks for a 30 minute meeting… be empathetic and get to the headlines, add value and make it easier on these merchants to create action.

7. What are you looking forward to most for Japonesque in 2019?

The word is “opportunity.” Not only does Japonesque have the momentum and tailwinds behind the business to grow at current and new retailer partners… we have an opportunity to truly scale to the next level. Karen McKay should be in a beauty Hall of Fame for this special family, values, and ethos she has built at Japonesque. She is giving our team the opportunity to expand on what makes our relationships with our customers and retailer partners so special and unique. We are a part of something beautiful here at Japonesque. It’s going to be a ridiculously cool 2019!

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Interested in learning more from professionals in the digital marketing and beauty industries? Check out the rest of our As Told By series.

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