Q: You're a long way from home, how did you end up in such a small town like Santa Cruz?
RB: A boy. The ironic part is, I met him while I was on vacation in Vegas with a friend and we had passed through Santa Cruz just a couple of weeks prior on a foggy September morning, mid-week. We were visiting off a recommendation from my sister and I remember thinking “this town sucks”.
Q: Did you have a pretty clear path of what you wanted to do after university or did it change a bit along the way?
RB: I studied Event Management at university in Birmingham, England and initially I wanted to be a wedding planner (f**k knows why). However, finding a job after graduating with 0 work experience can be challenging, and I don’t think any couple getting married wants to put their special day in the hands of a 21 year-old. I had a friend of a friend who worked at an event agency and she was actually leaving to move to New Zealand, so connected me with the owner. I got the job and worked with a variety of corporate clients and realized I was good at it. My dreams of planning weddings kind of just faded away. After a bit I quit because the owner was a total nutcase, but I lucked out finding a pretty sweet job managing automotive events at a different agency. I absolutely loved it. I got to travel, and my boss put 100% trust in me and my skills which really helped me to thrive. I was convinced I’d never do anything else...
Q: How did you end up in marketing, and what drew you to this industry?
RB: Although I was advancing in my career, I had always wanted to travel and meeting that yank in Vegas kind of forced my hand as due to annoying immigration laws, I wasn’t able to move to the States and he couldn’t move to England either (legally at least). We were both able to get holiday work visas for New Zealand and Australia. We thought that would be a good chance for us to test our relationship and see whether we wanted to take a bigger step and commitment. By the time we had finished living out there, we had decided to get married and chose to move to Santa Cruz where we had a bit of a base established with his family. I wasn’t able to work until I got my green card, and knew that being out of work for a few years on the resume would make it really difficult to find a job. Luckily, I met a lady through a friend who worked at Giro Sport Design as their Marketing Manager and our backgrounds were similar. She convinced them to take a chance on me and I was hired as their Marketing Coordinator. Although “marketing” was in my title, I was really just responsible for the coordination of marketing events. I definitely wasn’t convinced that marketing was for me and I wasn’t sure how I could progress. After a while, they restructured and I was part of a big lay-off. As cliche as it sounds, it was a blessing in disguise. After just under a month I was hired at Socksmith as their “Marketing Coordinator”. There was so much to do and with such a small team I took on some huge marketing projects. It’s been a blast. I’ve learned so much and I really think I’ve grown with the brand. After almost a year I had been managing more than coordinating so the title of “Marketing Manager” felt like a good natural progression.
June 2016, somewhere in New Zealand.
RB: I have so much to say about this. To sum it up, it was a challenge for the wholesale portion of the business but it's probably the best thing that happened for my personal career development, and our D2C business - socksmith.com. Fortunately we had started to develop our email marketing strategy in February of 2020, and we had also launched our Rewards Program and reviews, so those combined with everyone shopping online was the perfect storm. It was a record year for socksmith.com and we’ll continue to take it to new heights for 2021 with all the learning we have done.
Socksmith holiday party, 2019
Q: The word "marketing" seems like such a broad, almost all-inclusive term these days, what advice would you give to someone who is looking at getting into marketing as a career?
RB: I’d say it’s a good idea to initially start broadening your marketing work experience in a multitude of directions, and then find out what you like, what you’re really good at, and what will be sustainable. I think it's smart to look into the future and think about what will make you successful in many years to come. An example being specializing in SEO, rather than polishing your direct mail strategy. Most businesses are looking to hire someone specialized in a focus area, so stay current. Fortunately, we live in a world where you can get all of this experience online and for free. There’s no excuse.