Core Careers: Rip Curl Women’s SVP Mary Miller
Rip Curl SVP of Women’s Mary Miller has worked in the surf industry for her entire career.
We asked her about her career path and about what is driving the success of Rip Curl Women’s, which we have been hearing good things about from retailers.
How did you get started in the industry?
Rip Curl SVP of Women’s Mary Miller: After graduating from fashion design school, I landed my first job working for Mossimo. I’ve spent my entire career working within the surf industry – for Roxy and then O’Neill, and now 14 years with Rip Curl. All have been awesome experiences working with incredible crews. I feel fortunate to work in an industry full of passionate and inspiring people.
What are some of the key lessons you have learned along the way that helped you grow into larger roles?
Mary Miller: A lesson I’ve learned in my career is the importance of focus and energy on key initiatives that will ultimately deliver the most impact. Being open to feedback and constructive criticism is also key in both personal growth and building better products.
I keep hearing how well Rip Curl Women’s is doing lately, in both swim and apparel. In swim, retailers rave about the fits. Did your team take a new approach in swim? If so, what changed?
Mary Miller: Our continued ambition is to achieve market leadership in swimwear, so naturally we are obsessed with improving all aspects of design and development, through to the finished product. Maximizing the opportunity in women’s is a high priority for the business, and working with our key retail partners for feedback and remaining on the pulse of the customer has helped us deliver strong assortments.
We’ve built an amazing design team of talented women who continue to push the brand forward, while nurturing our key formulas that drive the business. We have great chemistry and the team is aligned and firing.
We’ve recently launched a virtual fit guide on our e-commerce site to really improve the shopping experience, and have introduced a larger selection of silhouettes in both swim tops and bottoms, for more support and coverage options.
Have there been any changes in apparel as well? If so, what are they and how is Rip Curl working to stand out in the crowded women’s market?
Mary Miller: There’s been a strong effort to be cohesive across categories so our brand identity remains consistent.
I believe where Rip Curl is winning is that we are clear on who we are and laser focused on being the Ultimate Surfing Company. Having that consistency every season in the products that we offer and our overall look and feel, is key to the foundation of our brand. I think the customers appreciate knowing what to expect from us.
Are there certain categories or styles where Rip Curl Women’s has seen the most growth?
Mary Miller: Lycra has been a highlight category for us most recently, driven by our surf suits – our long sleeve one pieces. We’ve also seen success with our cold weather products like Anti-Series. We have become a four-season brand and are excited with the response we are getting across categories.
We’ve recently expanded into kids wear, and are offering our younger customers the chance to engage with our brand in a more meaningful way.
What qualities do you appreciate in your direct reports?
Mary Miller: What I appreciate the most is the willingness to go above and beyond, someone who is not afraid of (or above) rolling up their sleeves to get the job done.
Also, I love the phrase “Mediocrity is not on the menu.” In order for us to be the best, we need to push for the best and not accept anything that is below our expectations, even if it means more time and effort to get it where we want it.
Lastly but definitely not least, I appreciate when people have a good attitude and have fun doing what we love.
Any tips on how you juggle it all – email, meetings, employees, etc.?
Mary Miller: By staying organized, prioritizing tasks and having weekly touch base meetings with the crew and supporting departments. Most importantly, building a strong team and empowering them to do their jobs.