When Lydia Vargo first interviewed with ChicExecs co-founders Nikki Carlson and Kailynn Bowling seven years ago, she recalls that “they asked a lot of questions that I felt were assessing whether or not I was a good fit for the company.” Rather than discussing her skills and her resume, which spoke for itself, her potential employers encouraged Vargo to talk about the elements of her career that got her most excited. For her part, Vargo was impressed with “their overall vision of what they wanted for their people. I loved their story and their journey.”
She signed on with the firm, which then specialized mostly in public relations, as one of its first employees and is now senior director of strategic accounts. “I often work with international brands and help bring in those bigger clients and assess what they need, put the right team behind it, and then make changes as needed,” Vargo says. “The idea behind us is that you can have a very powerful team of experts at your disposal so that we can grow with you. We have brands who’ve been with us for many years.” Since she joined the company, ChicExecs has grown to 60 employees and now offers clients help with retail, brand, marketing, and social media strategy. The company was listed on Entrepreneur magazine’s “Best Company Cultures” list in 2017.
“The culture and belief system that Nikki and Kailynn have fostered is very much just empowering people to grow,” says Vargo. And intrapreneurialism is very, very important.” Vargo started out doing PR work for ChicExecs and was then asked to head a new retail strategy team. “I started working with buyers and presenting our brands for retail, which was really exciting, and I loved it,” says Vargo. As the company grew, she then moved into a leadership role on the sales team. “I never considered myself a salesperson,” she says. “But I think that the best salespeople, their gift is not selling — it’s understanding people and recognizing what they need for their business and then presenting the right options. A good salesperson is willing to walk away if they’re offering a service that the brand doesn’t need.”
The content Vargo writes is crafted to share thought leadership and to give readers an understanding of ChicExecs’s brand identity. “I really have loved being a part of Forbes Councils,” she says.
Much of what she knows about sales, she learned in an entirely different industry. Vargo spent six years at Mackenzie Financial Services in Vancouver, Canada, convincing brokers and financial planners to include the company’s funds in their portfolios. “I had some extraordinary mentors during that time and much of my philosophy of work comes from that teamwork at Mackenzie Financial.”
Vargo left the corporate world after she met and married her husband, and the couple quit their jobs for a year-long backpacking adventure through Central and South America. Two children and a four-year stay in Australia later, Vargo and her young family landed in California and that’s when she found ChicExecs. “I knew I wanted to do something different and I read an article about Nikki and Kailynn. I realized they were right down the street from me, so I reached out, met them that afternoon, and I never left.”
ChicExec’s staff is mostly women, says Vargo, noting that many males clients recognize that “women are the main purchasers in the household, so we’re like a focus group for our brands.” The company has clients in industries such as fashion, beauty, parenting, and rugged outdoors, among others. “When we’re assessing whether or not a brand is a good fit for us and vice versa, it’s less about the category and more about the vision and what they stand for.”
Vargo is a regular contributor of content through Forbes Business Development Council. “The wonderful thing about Forbes Councils is that it’s very vetted,” she says. “These are like-minded people and we’re all eager to share, but we’re also really eager to learn.” The content Vargo writes is crafted to share thought leadership and to give readers an understanding of ChicExecs’s brand identity. “I really have loved being a part of Forbes Councils,” she says.
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