Lead With Love: Stacie Henderson

The CMO of Tod’s sets an empowering example for her children and her employees.


 “I suggest that young women go beyond their job description and look for opportunities to add value to or grow the company,” says Tod’s CMO Stacie Henderson. Photography by Cathrine White

Interview by Cathrine White

CATHRINE WHITE: You are the chief marketing officer, Americas, at Tod’s Group, one of the largest Italian luxury brands. What is it like to oversee e-commerce, marketing and consumer experience for the group?

STACIE HENDERSON: At Tod’s, I’m essentially responsible for the online business and branding for all four brands (Tod’s, Roger Vivier, Hogan and Fay) for the Americas. This is such an exciting time to be in marketing, because of the constant evolution of digital, the various channels that one can use to reach consumers. The average American is exposed to 4,000 to 10,000 ads per day. That’s nearly double the number of ads the average person saw in 2007 and over five times as many ads as the average person saw in the 1970s. So, this means one can no longer do things to tick the box to gain exposure for your brand. You must be willing to take risks and be a bit disruptive while staying true to the core DNA of your brand and acknowledging your existing target market and of course potential new targets to reach the goal you are trying to meet.

CW: What have been some of the hardest lessons along the way as you grew in your executive role?

SH: Not to take things too personal. I put everything I have into my work, but I’ve learned from time to time that my job is to be as prepared as possible to advise an organization with the data I have on hand. When the organization decides to go in another direction, you have to know that you did your best and not take it personally. I’ve learned that sometimes it is best to think that you are actually “representing” your work and take yourself out of the equation. It helps with feedback because you become a bit more objective. The first thing to remember is that we are humans, doing our best and the key to a great team is to keep them highly motivated and engaged. So, even when I have to provide tough feedback, I remember that I am speaking to someone’s daughter, mom, dad, brother and make sure the feedback is as productive as possible. 

CW: What inspired you to start Fashion Tech Connects, and where have you seen a shift in working with organizations when it comes to partnering with Fashion Tech to offer your students internships? 

SH: I noticed there was a dearth of women of color in the fashion industry and wanted to do something about it. My co-founder, Stephanie Horton, decided to launch Fashion Tech Connects because we know how difficult it is to enter the industry. We provide women of color who attend a university paid fashion internships that have a digital focus. We secure companies to offer the internships, recruit and interview the candidates, and provide each company approximately three to five screened candidates to consider. We launched five years ago and have worked with brands such as Kering Group, Tory Burch, Jennifer Behr, Farfetch, Stitch Fix and many others. Doing this work brings me joy because it can really have an impact on someone’s life. 

CW: What do you think corporations can do better when it comes to supporting their women employees? 

SH: Ensure you have women present at all levels in your organization. When women are in meetings, listen to them and don’t ignore what a woman says. Ensure that women are able to speak up (without repercussions) when they feel something isn’t “right,” no matter how big or small. And for the working mothers, they should not have to feel they have to choose between going to work and attending a school function, game, etc. for their children. Yes, my career is important to me, but I think it is crucial to be as present as possible in your kid’s life, and you should not have to sacrifice your career for this. Not saying I get it right all the time—none of us do—but I’ve served as PTA president, sign up each year for committees, and am quite active in Jack and Jill. I could not have done this if I didn’t have companies that allowed me to be flexible. 

CW: What’s your advice for young women starting out? 

SH: I suggest that young women go beyond their job description and look for opportunities to add value to or grow the company. Once you identify an opportunity, start to research to understand the value it will add for your organization. No need to tell anyone you are doing this, or ask for permission—just do it in order to pitch the idea or project to your organization. This is how I was able to launch e-commerce for Versace in the U.S. I didn’t ask…I did the research and presented it after I had enough evidence that it would support the business.

CW: What are some of the conversations you’re having with your own two kids that have been meaningful? 

SH: Since they have been young, when they finish something, I always ask, “Did you do it with integrity?” We talk a lot about setting goals. During dinner, a few months ago, my son asked me what it would take for me to be a CEO of a fashion company. He wanted a list of specific things I would need to work on. I responded and he told me I needed a timeline to hit targets over the next six months. I thought that was quite impressive for a 15-year-old.