Brand & Leadership SOUNDBytes From 4 of The Most Influential Fashion & Retail Leaders In 2023

Step into the world of fashion and retail leadership as we bring you an exclusive interview conducted by Jessica Nuremberg, co-founder of SOUNDBytes. In this captivating conversation, we gain unparalleled insights from four prominent thought leaders representing some of the most influential brands in the apparel industry.

SOUNDBytes, a dynamic marketing collective, has built a reputation for fostering collaboration, driving innovation, and facilitating transformative deal-making. Through a diverse range of speakers and thought-provoking discussions, SOUNDBytes transcends boundaries, addressing key topics across entertainment, music, fashion, lifestyle sports, and media. Founded by industry veterans Jessica Nuremberg and Michelle Edgar, both influential women in marketing and media, SOUNDBytes has become a premier platform for thought leadership.

Jessica Nuremberg

Highsnobiety Vice President, Partnerships | Co-Founder SOUNDBytes Collective | CHIEF Member

Join us as we delve into the minds of four individuals who have propelled their unparalleled success in the ever-evolving landscape of the fashion and retail industry. Get a glimpse into their mindset through SOUNDBytes featuring Steve Lesnard, the Global Chief Brand Officer at SEPHORA; Vanessa LeFebvre, the Global President of Champion & Hanes Activewear; Brieane Olson, the CEO of PacSun; and Chris Davis, the Chief Marketing Officer at New Balance.

Steve Lesnard

Global Chief Brand Officer, SEPHORA

To which people and brands do you look for your inspiration?

I get inspired a lot. Much of my inspiration comes from people that I had the opportunity to work for or work with. I get inspired by people first, how people think and their ambitious ideas. I like innovators, people that do things differently and that think that the future is going to be better because we can improve it by changing things.

It’s fun to see newcomers that are completely breaking the status quo in the world of beauty and it is happening every day. We see founders who are saying “there’s a gap, no one is serving me or my community based on the problem that I have.”

It was groundbreaking when Fenty beauty showed up with over 40 shades of foundation to reflect everybody’s skin. The beauty world inspires me.  I like the small brands. The “David’s” in the world of “Goliath’s” those who have an idea and want to bring it to life, who are not afraid to do things differently.  They get noticed and get the big brands to react and adapt.

Vanessa LeFebvre

Global President of Champion & Hanes Activewear

What are the qualities that you think are really important to be an effective leader?

First and foremost, I think it is communication. It takes more than saying, “Hey, I need you to do this,” to really get into ensuring everybody understands our purpose, our mission, and why we are bringing about change. 

The other is really listening. In my first 90 days, I visited Asia, Europe, El Salvador, and Kansas to see as much as I could. I was always asking the question, “What don’t you want to tell me but you think I should know?” I made sure it was not just the leaders that I talked to. The retail employees, the store employees, I spent a lot of time listening to customers or consumers and just taking it in, and I still do that. There is first listening, and then there is ensuring clarity, which I think is so important. Then, lastly, hire great people and make sure all of them do not think like you.

Be honest with yourself and ask “What am I good at? What am I not? What do I need help with? We’re bigger in consumers’ minds than in actuality, and I want our global teams to understand our brand relevancy and push the envelope to tackle that potential. At Champion, we work hard, play hard, and go for the win.

Brieane Olson

CEO, PacSun

How does PacSun Utilize Social Platforms and how do you use them to enhance PacSun Brand Storytelling?

Our PacSun team flourishes in moments where there’s reinvention or a real need for creativity and innovation. We did a lot of experimentation and exploration into new spaces. We grew our TikTok platform in 2021 to a million followers. After 18 months we had 1.6 million followers, and recently in 2022 eclipsed the 2 million mark. We think about it as a way to engage, whether it’s from an entertainment standpoint, product focus, or community engagement where we can amplify the voices in our community. For the majority of the pandemic, we focused on evolving and extending our brand voice—whether on Pactalks, TikTok, Snapchat, or gaming—allowing the amplification of our brand voice through brand ambassadors and going well beyond the traditional approach with influencers.

Chris Davis

Chief Marketing Office, New Balance

How does New Balance prioritize authenticity in their approach to serving consumers?

As a company, we want to make sure that we’re serving our consumers in an authentic manner with a meaningful consumer experience that’s going to provide an added benefit. Good teamwork is paramount to the overall integrity and authenticity of a company.

New Balance understands this. We pride ourselves on being a people-first, teamwork-focused company. Team members that feel trusted in their roles directly affect the way in which consumers experience a brand. With a transparent and safe workplace, team members are allowed the space to create the best possible products for their customers. New Balance focuses on creating that sort of atmosphere not only in the office but outside of it as well.

As a brand, we focus on authenticity to lead the way in combining the sport and culture mentality. Fans of New Balance will likely see that reflected in future collaborations and partnerships.

This article feature is from our annual special edition issue, the L.A. STYLE Magazine Most Influential of 2023.


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