Volcom CEO Todd Hymel and new Global Head of Women’s Lyndsey Roach weigh in on a new ambassador, and how it could help gain the brand market share
In light of Volcom’s latest announcement to expand its women’s ambassador program, we thought it fitting to catch up with CEO Todd Hymel to learn more about the strategy behind growing the division. This is the first time we’ve had a chance to catch up with Hymel, who stepped into his new role with Volcom in December 2015, and hear his strategy for the brand. We also had a chance to hear from Lyndsey Roach, global head of women’s, about taking the reigns earlier this year, and her ideas for growing the division in a new direction.
Congrats on the new role, Lyndsey. What's been your approach for the women's division since you've stepped into the new role?
LR: Thank you. It's still really fresh. I think I spent the first month on a plane. I'm meeting with the team globally, and asking a lot of questions to understand the challenges and identify the opportunities. Obviously, I think the brand has a unique positioning, and that's what attracted me to it. We're refining the approach and aligning the global sales and marketing teams, so all of our storytelling and product is through that Volcom lens.
Georgia is the epitome of a Volcom women's ambassador. She's feminine, cool, and she's definitely rock and roll. When I first approached her, she knew the Volcom brand, and there was instant excitement from her side.
What does it mean to have somebody of Georgia May's stature come on board as a global brand ambassador for Volcom?
LR: Georgia is the epitome of a Volcom women's ambassador. She's feminine, cool, and she's definitely rock and roll. When I first approached her, she knew the Volcom brand, and there was instant excitement from her side. It's really hard to find a girl that is that attainable and aspirational, but we've done that with Georgia.
How did that whole partnership and conversation begin with her? Was there a previous relationship with her, or her family? How did you go about that?
TH: I'm going to give Lyndsey all the credit. The girl's team has always had a list of their top 10 VIP influencers that they'd love to go after, and obviously Georgia was at the top. When I appointed Lyndsey to take over the global direction, I asked her for a strategy including her wishlist which included GMJ, and after reviewing I said let's see if we can do it. It went really quick from that point to where we are today.
How does this all align with the vision for Volcom women's and the upcoming Spring campaign?
LR: We had the ultimate girl squad at this shoot. We had Georgia from London, we had Elena [Hight] from California, we had Coco [Ho] from Hawaii, Quincy [Davis] from New York, Maud [Le Car] from France. It was everything beach and city that you could ever cast. The the way that the product was shot and styled, and the way that the whole story is going to come off, it'll be a really good visual articulation of the direction and everything that we're standing for.
When can we expect to see that first part of the campaign to drop? Is there any underlying them, or anything a lit deeper that you can share?
LR: This campaign will drop in November. It tells our beach to city brand story, it highlights the release of our new eco swim collection, and marks the launch of the first of many seasonal stories with GMJ.
Will she be pretty heavily involved in the design side?
LR: We have multiple seasons with her, so it's kind of too early to tell. She obviously has amazing style, and and has a really good eye for design. She perfectly mixes vintage with athletic and sporty, so if anyone could have a really interesting interpretation, it would be her. But no official plans yet.
If you look at the marketplace today, Volcom is smaller than its competitors, and there's no reason for that. There's so many different pieces that the brand can use to differentiate itself. I asked the team to go get some of that market share.
It sounds like she hit it off really well with Coco, during the photo shoot that you guys were working on. What's been the general rapport amongst her and the other Volcom ambassadors?
LR: It's nice to see that happen very organically. They literally came in from all these different cities and hit it off right away, and had a great time talking about everything that girls talk about, from music to where they would wear certain outfits, to the girls telling Georgia they were going to teach her how to surf. It was very organic and a really good time.
Volcom has the ability to do things—like we're doing with Georgia—that no other brand in the space can do. I'm stoked that Todd empowered us to get after it. We're all aligned on this and ready to shake things up.
Todd, it's clear that you’ve put a lot of energy and emphasis into the women's division, since you came on board. What's the strategy behind this, if you don't mind breaking it down a little further?
TH: The women's team has always had a lot of energy behind it, but we've never had one champion that can focus on it every single day, everywhere in the world, and make sure everything is aligned without putting too much on one region or another—until now. If you look at the marketplace today, Volcom is smaller than its competitors, and there's no reason for that. There's so many different pieces that the brand can use to differentiate itself. I asked the team to go get some of that market share.
We have a clear advantage and distinct point of view, it's "beach to city”—to be a brand that's present in both spaces and not just be looked at as a surf-only brand.
How much have you seen the Volcom women's division grow? Have you bee able to pinpoint that one champion area of growth in a particular category, like denim, or dresses?
TH:We have a decent sized business but we haven't had a global direction with someone that's leading the teams everywhere around the world—things have been a little spread thin. Now, the women's line is being focused, it's going to be curated, we're not going to try and compete with every brand out there, or with fast-fashion companies that have every piece possible. We have a clear advantage and distinct point of view, it's "beach to city"—to be a brand that's present in both spaces and not just be looked at as a surf-only brand.
It sounds like you see the Volcom Women's division staying fairly small in terms of the skews and the offering that you're offering, but will you be expanding on staff, marketing efforts, etc.?
TH: For the moment, we want to get the line where it needs to be. We're just finishing that up, and aligning our collection with a true women's marketing story and VIP brand ambassador. This will start driving the business in the right direction. Once we see what's resonating in the marketplace, then we'll start to expand on pieces where it makes sense and look at pieces to pull back on. We need to continue to identify what's creating desire for the girls that buy the brand.
And will that be a process of you checking in with your already established core retailers, or are you looking at expanding distribution into other shops and boutiques?
TH: Partnering up with Georgia gives us the opportunity to play in a lot more places. It gives the ability to speak to more people and elevates the overall program. By working with Georgia, we can attract a consumer who hasn’t looked at us in the past. It brings credibility to our existing business today, and will reignite new desire for Volcom.
For us, it's about focusing on the consumer, giving her a carefully curated product, because she's out there, and she wants it. And we have to get it in front of her.
In terms of growth, how much opportunity do you think exists not only for Volcom women's, but the women's market and that entire landscape as a whole?
TH: There's a lot of opportunity for brands that have a unique position and a good story to grow. Speaking to Volcom specifically, it's about narrowing our product offering to compose a collection that we can market and tell a cohesive story around. For us, it has to something that is identified as Volcom easily by look or style or feel.
I'm proud of where we are at, and to be at the beginning of an effort to start growing a long-term business and foundation. For me, it's really about putting the brand today in a good position to have continuous growth over the years to come.
LR: For us, it's about focusing on the consumer, giving her a carefully curated product, because she's out there, and she wants it. And we have to get it in front of her.