I have known Lisa Pomerantz for fashion eons. First when she was in charge of global communications at Bottega Veneta for nine years, and then at Michael Kors where she was VP of Global Communications and Marketing for six. She is now back at Bottega as the CMO and is setting out to help the brand cement and reshape their future with their biggest flagship opening in NYC in 2018, new collaborations and of course, the SS/18 which takes place next week in Milan. The best marketers have a unique blend of the analytical and the aesthetic—traits Lisa has in spades. Her laser sharp focus and flair for business must make designer Tomas Maier, perhaps the most meticulous detail-oriented designer I’ve met, beyond happy. Plus her deep appreciation for luxury is on par with the innate ethos BV stands for. (As you would expect, Lisa’s home decor game is top notch, her modernist aerie, where we photographed her above, has been featured in Elle Decor.) At the same time, Lisa is a down-to-earth, quite funny, mother of two, the kind whose looking forward to taking up welding in all her free time.
Tell us what you do/who you are: I am CMO of Bottega Veneta. I’m a marketer. I’m a woman. I’m a mother. I am in a role sometimes I see as that of a conductor, in that I orchestrate people with talent to produce their best work. I’m mostly behind the scenes directing creative, who I love working with. I love to see them in action and I love to see them flourish. I love the nurturing aspect of the creative process because I appreciate it and I understand it, and I think there’s a great value. I grew up in a creative environment so it’s very much a part of my being. I think that the combination of creative marketing and storytelling is very important in my role at Bottega and nurturing that, for me, it’s a very natural position.
Can you talk a little bit about your career path and how you came to where you are now? I always wanted a career in fashion. I knew that from a very early age. I knew I was not going to be a designer, but I didn’t know where I would be. I didn’t know where my strengths would take me. I worked in all aspects. I started in retail at a very young age. I did wholesale. I was in PR. I moved to marketing and I, luckily, eventually ended up being involved in a combination of all of it because everything is related in the world that I just described. There are days when I think, ultimately, I should have been a shop keeper with a little curated shop. I love retail, so I feel like I’ve come full circle from starting out on the retail floor and, ultimately, one day perhaps owning a store and understanding kind of all the mechanisms inbetween of what it takes.
What originally drew you to fashion? Both of my parents were very visual. My mom had an incredible sense of fashion. This was in the ’70s/’80s. She was super elegant, but always very sporty. She would play tennis in a fabulous tube top and a tennis skirt, and she had the tube top in every color because you don’t want to get tan lines, right? Then she would end up in the evening in a fabulous peasant blouse and flares or a gypsy skirt. For her, it was not so much about her clothes, it was her attitude. My mom was focused on guests and if they were happy. Did they have enough food? Did they have enough to drink? Was everyone having fun? Whereas, my father was very obsessed about the perfection of whatever dinner or party they were giving. At Thanksgiving every apple that was in the centerpiece with a magnolia leaf had to be polished perfect. He was more rigorous about details; she was more focused on fun. I think the combination, for me, was intriguing and I guess you’re either born with this attraction to this idea of an aesthetic or not. It was just a very natural progression to either fashion design or the combination of the two.
When you started working what came easiest to you? What comes easiest to you today? It was then and it is now. Every day when I wake up, it’s a passion for fashion and design. It’s a pleasure and it’s something I don’t take for granted because I know that a large part of the population that has to go to work every day doesn’t necessarily feel that way. The combination of being creative and analytical, left side and right side of the brain–I’ve always been that way. I like to see results and then I want to measure it, and then I want to evolve and see how we can do better. That’s marketing communication today. I think the best marketers are those who do have the creative understanding and passion and appreciation, but also have an analytical business-oriented goal.
What was the hardest part when you started out? When I started out I, again, knew that I was interested in fashion. I knew that I wasn’t going to be a designer, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I switched jobs frequently because there were a lot of things that I wanted to try. I worked through these different jobs at a pace that, for me, made sense, which was kind of every year/every other year. My parents kept telling me that switching jobs that frequently would look horrible on my résumé and it would, ultimately, undermine my career. When I look back, it was really part of an evolution of finding the perfect role. So it didn’t really bother me, but I did stress just based on what one considered to be the right way to go about building a career.
What do you think the hardest part of your job is now? It’s the fragmented marketing and communication landscape. It’s undergone complete disruption. We are still straddling the old and the new. It’s an every day task to try and figure out what the balance is and how to communicate in the current environment.
What do you find exciting about all this disruption? I am so fortunate to be in the center of it in a pretty mature position in that I’ve seen so much of the traditional. I lived through it. I learned it and now I’ve been learning the new for the last five years. I think a lot of younger marketers don’t have the bigger vision because they just know today, so they have a lot of great ideas and a lot of passion, but having seen the before, the now, and the combination of the two, it’s phenomenal and incredibly exciting.
Talking about fashion, how do you think it’s changed for the good? I love that it’s more democratic. I love that today if you have a vision or you have a proposition, you can put it out there on social media and the public will vote. You don’t have to wait to be discovered by Vogue or X, Y, Z. You can put it out there and if you’re passionate and people like it, you can be successful. I think that there’s something very exciting about being able to build a brand or a business from an idea or concept. I was listening to a podcast recently about Kickstarter and the seed of that was the same idea. It was critical mass. If you put it out there and enough people want it to happen, why shouldn’t it?
What does luxury mean to you personally? Luxury for me is no deadlines. It would be a day without appointments. You know, decide when you want to start. Do what you feel like doing. Go where you want to go. Decide when you want to stop. That’s the ultimate.
What makes a successful luxury brand today? I think integrity, point of view, authenticity, and a serious design ethos. I don’t use the word luxury very much anymore because I think it’s been slightly abused. I think that design ethos and authenticity are really what has replaced that word. It could be something very, very basic such as an early tribal piece of art, but there’s a design integrity and a unique vision. It’s not iterative of something else. There’s less and less of it today.
Your biggest success to date: My family.
Biggest dud? What did you learn from it? I don’t know. That’s such a good one because I just don’t see things that way. Whenever I do things that don’t work out, I always think that there’s some learning from it. Oh, I have something that’s a dud, but not really. A dud is getting fired, right? Because at the moment you’re fired you think it’s a dud, but it really just allows you to understand what happened and why, and then study whether you believe you should change or is it an important part of who you are? I don’t see it as a negative.
Role models: My parents. And my husband who’s savvy in the workplace from a political standpoint. He’s very sensitive and publicly intuitive to how people are feeling. I try and learn from that because you have to. You have to tune in. I think that there is something to be said for having a great sensibility about people’s needs and expectations.
Best career advice you’ve received and what you would advise other people: I still believe it’s do what you’re good at. My advice to someone starting a career would be the same, do what you’re good at and trust your gut. You need to follow your path, and it kind of goes back to that dud question. For example, if you get fired and there’s a disagreement, then you’ve got to think about it and if that was really your gut, you maybe didn’t belong in that environment. You’ve got to continue on your path.
What motivates you? Momentum.
How hard would you say you work? 200%.
How do you keep focused? I’m never not focused.
Three words that describe Bottega Veneta: Style, substance, and artisanal craftsmanship. That’s four words, but that’s okay, right?
Three words that describe you: Loyal, tenacious and grateful.
What’s next for Bottega Veneta? So much. We’re basically going into Bottega Veneta 2.0, the next iteration of this incredible brand. We have our show coming up. We have our new Maison, which is going to be the biggest store in the world opening on Madison Avenue at the beginning of ’18. We have new collaboration…there’s lots happening.
Life goals: Happiness, health, friends, and family.
Daily goals: The same.
Favorite inspirational/motivational reads: I’ve read so many different things. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, The Road Less Traveled. I get up every day and I think about, ‘Is the glass half empty? Is the glass half full?’ I think it’s so important to realize and be grateful for what I have. I also try and stay focused on what’s in my control versus what isn’t, because so much stuff is just not in your control. If you can’t control it, you’ve just got to let it be.
Daily rituals: In the morning I have this thing I call a creative cycle. I wake up and then I kind of have to be in this sleepy/awake mode where I sleep, I wake up, my mind wonders. I have all kinds of thoughts and memories. Unbelievable things come to mind—it could be creative, it could be family, it could be work. It can last 30 minutes or an hour. If I don’t have that, if I have to just get right up, it’s a bad day.
How do you unplug? I sleep. Minimum eight hours, but when I’m allowed, which is typically the weekends, I can go 12 to 14 hours.
Wow. I know. That’s what everybody says. I can wake up at one in the afternoon. My kids are up. Everybody’s up. I think it’s because I don’t stop. I’m either up at 200% or I’m sleeping. There’s nothing inbetween.
Hidden talents/hobbies: Makeup application. If I were going to come back again, I think I’d be a makeup artist. I love table settings and décor and putting tables together. And I’m very keen to start welding—objects, jewelry, that’s going to be my new thing for the fall. I’m also thinking about bonsai pruning. That’s another on my list, it looks very relaxing.
Favorite charity: God’s Love We Deliver.
Do you collect anything? Seashells. I’m obsessed. For me it’s a very relaxing thing to do and I am always blown away by how each one is so unique. When you see them all on the beach there’s so much inspiration, color, and texture. My husband threatened me not to bring one more shell into the house. Now, I’m giving them to my friend Sara [Beltran] and she makes jewelry out of them. She is a dear friend, who I greatly admire and we actually collect lots of different things together whenever we are out and about, traveling, etc.
Biggest splurge you don’t regret: On a macro level, real estate. On a lesser lever, I go religiously for a monthly intensive facial. There’s a woman named Denise DeGiulio. She has a tiny office on 57th Street and she is brilliant. She is a life changer, but you have to be religious about it.
Favorite small indulgence: I grow gardenias on my terrace. Whenever they’re blooming, I cut them and float them in water next to my bed. It’s very Southern. We had a massive gardenia tree at our house growing up in Texas and my mother used to do the same. There’s nothing like the smell.
Album currently on repeat: Okay, this is embarrassing, The Carpenters.
Lucky charm: I have a hamsa charm that my parents bought in the ’70s when they went to Israel. They brought back one for each of the four girls with our initials engraved. Very cool. It’s a Jewish symbol and it represents protection. People always comment on it because it’s kind of this freeform shape. I wear it every day.
Favorite hour of the day: Definitely 5:00. It gets super quiet. Not so much in the city, but in the country. Everything starts to quiet down. It’s that tranquil witching hour. My favorite place is sitting on the porch in Long Island. In the South, it’s time for a cocktail. It’s like that reward at the end of the day.
Follow Lisa: Instagram.
Follow Bottega Veneta: Instagram.
Photo: Rebecca Greenfield for The Flair Index