The best career advice Chico’s Brand President Diane Ellis ever received is to be open to a broad range of opportunities. When she joined Chico’s in 2016, Ellis had 35 years of retail experience, starting as a sales associate in a women’s clothing store in Florida and continuing at Filene’s, Marshalls, The Limited and Brooks Brothers. She held jobs in areas as diverse as IT and finance, supply chain and customer research. “In retail, it’s rare people come up through one discipline and have the skill set to be able to run a business,” she says. “Being willing to zig and zag in your career is a key part of success.”
At Chico’s, Ellis inspires her team to constantly challenge the status quo and better understand the customer. Her staff inspires her, too: “The best learning is what I get from my team and how I can be a more effective leader,” she says.
On deck for Chico’s: a personalized look book that’s available to customers 24/7, combining the existing relationship between sales associates and customers (the “secret sauce”) and customer data to create a new type of online interaction. “I tell my team, ‘You can either be frustrated by the fact that the environment is constantly changing, or you can be fascinated by it,’” Ellis says. “I choose to be fascinated by it.”