Ministry of Supply CEO on connecting with the customer and why retail is as alive as ever

The List 2023 honoree Aman Advani answers “20 Questions”
By Michael Cooper

Ministry of Supply Co-Founder and CEO Aman Advani will be celebrated at the NRF Foundation Honors as one of the dynamic leaders on The List of People Shaping Retail’s Future 2023. He reflects on why the “free stuff” is key to succeeding in retail, doubling down on the soul of the business during the pandemic and why retail is alive as it has ever been.

Here are a few questions, along with Advani’s answers (watch the video above for all “20 Questions”):

Why is retail the industry you picked for your career?

I love retail because it gives us one touch connection directly to the customer. We can think like they do by having direct one-to-one conversations with the folks using our product.

What three skills are key to succeeding in retail?

I like to tell folks, “Just do the free stuff.” That means being respectful, showing up on time, working directly with the customer, and being kind to your peers. If you can get through those, the free stuff, the rest is all easy.

What decisions did you make during the pandemic that proved critical?

At the very onset of the pandemic, we had to make a tough decision. We had to double down our why - our soul, our purpose - but we had to completely give up our what - our approach to retail and the product that we made. We did that by changing into this category we now call workleisure and by selling temporarily entirely online, so we could weather the storm of the pandemic and come out clean on the other side.

What qualities do you look for in your employees?

In almost every job interview candidates ask, "What are you looking for in this role?" and I give them two answers. Number one: nice. We're looking for people who are kind, driven, and excited about the work they're about to do. Number two: internal drive. We're looking for folks whose motivation, excitement, and passion come from within so it doesn't have to be imposed from the outside.

What is one misconception about retail that you would love to debunk for everyone?

For years now, we've heard of the retail apocalypse. It's this term that rings in everybody's head and makes for clickable headlines. But what we've seen firsthand is that retail is as alive as ever. People love shopping as a hobby and a necessity. Retail is as alive as it's ever been and we're betting big on it.

The NRF Foundation connects people to an industry that’s a great place to start and a great place to grow. Since 2015, the NRF Foundation Honors has raised the funds to continue to provide programs and resources to help people build better lives and stronger communities. Join us in New York City and be a part of the story of how retail builds extraordinary careers.