As more established DTC brands build out their leadership teams with retail veterans, Everlane joined the club by hiring its first chief marketing officer, according to details emailed to Retail Dive Tuesday. Sophie Bambuck joins the company this month from Nike, where she served as global vice president of brand marketing for Nike Sportswear.
Bambuck will lead marketing and creative organization and oversee the strategic direction of the brand, including "accelerating Everlane's mission, scaling the brand to reach new audiences, and continue fostering loyalty with Everlane's dedicated customer base," according to the release. She will report to CEO Michael Preysman.
The retailer also recently hired its first general manager of e-commerce, Matt Gehring, who previously worked as senior vice president of growth at fellow DTC brand Rothy's. Everlane also made two board appointments: Natalie Massenet, founder of Net-a-Porter and co-founder of Imaginary Ventures, and Jonathan Mildenhall, co-founder of TwentyFirstCentury Brand and chief marketing officer of banking startup Dave.
Basics company Everlane, famous for its promise of "radical transparency," has hired its first chief marketing officer to take ownership of that mission, and help scale the brand beyond its startup days.
As DTC companies continue to expand, the need for veteran retail leadership grows, leading many founders to step down from CEO spots, including Away co-founder Steph Korey and Dollar Shave Club's Michael Dubin. Building out an executive team with talent from big-name brands like Nike brings both new blood and a better understanding of how companies scale to Everlane and its peers.
The company's marketing in particular, could use a reset. Everlane has come under fire for its outward-facing image before, with employees alleging that the message is not reflective of internal company culture. Everlane's treatment of employees has been criticized by customer experience workers, who complained about a lack of benefits, among other things, and were then laid off after trying to unionize, according to Vice reporting.
Retail store employees told Vice that Everlane tried to stop them from talking about wages, and failed efforts to change working conditions led many to quit out of frustration. Customer experience employees also described a stressful work environment with low pay and benefits.
While arguably more human relations issues than marketing issues, the company culture of a brand can have an outsized impact on loyal customers and employees when it doesn't line up with what a brand promises. Tackling the divide between what customers see and what employees experience is critical to retailers trying to appeal to younger consumers, who look to a brand's values when deciding whether or not to purchase from them going forward.
For DTC brands, being built on the core value of authenticity makes any disparities between brand image and culture particularly stark.
"The community and the cult nature of these brands means a higher high, so you have a stronger sense of loyalty and real affinity for the brand, but also at the same time comes with this risk of a lower low," Victoria Sakal, managing director of brand intelligence at Morning Consult, told Retail Dive in the fall. "You're held to a higher regard so you're expected to be able to deliver on it not only in your product, in your experience, but also your culture and how you treat your stakeholders."