Mai Nozoe is the Vice President of Creative Services for alice + olivia, a contemporary women’s lifestyle brand founded by Stacey Bendet in 2002.
Mai joined the company in 2013 to develop their first in-house creative team. Her 8-people team handles all creative branding and global image direction including photography, video, art direction, casting, styling, advertising, design, and production of brand collateral and website. Prior to her current role, Mai served as the first Vice President of Creative Operations for Moda Operandi, and developed the first in house creative department at Michael Kors.
In this interview, Mai shares her past experience, some of the insights and best practices she learned along the way. You can see her live at our next Creative Ops Breakfast on Thursday, September 22, in our TriBeCa office.
Q. You’ve developed the first in-house creative department at Michael Kors and currently at alice + olivia. What recurring challenges have you faced in both jobs?
Developing the first in-house teams requires being nimble and adaptable to business needs. Being able to change direction is key, while simultaneously developing a consistent aesthetic that represents the brand so the customer becomes familiar with and identifies with the brand over time.
In addition, I have also experienced:
- Adapting brands to overseas markets especially in the Middle East and Asia, which have been a consistent challenge and opportunity.
- The ever-evolving online world, which requires that we adapt and speak to the customer in new ways through different channels but with an omni strategy.
- The constant need for content in social media, which challenges traditional methods and processes for developing creative.
Q. What are the biggest challenges and opportunities for creative teams today?
The greatest challenge is the constant need for more content with restricted resources. Creative services and its tie to social media as one of the greatest communication tools will continue to grow, and companies must focus on keeping up with developing the content by providing as many resources as possible in this area. What’s exciting is that there is now a greater need for in-house creative departments than ever.
Q. Any tools or applications that are “must-have” or “can’t live without”?
With the volume of content that is needed today, it becomes critical to have an organized workflow. In every company I have worked in, I require a creative brief for all projects. Asset management systems and archival systems should be implemented as quickly as possible.
Q. What one piece of advice do you have for those just getting started in a creative leader role?
It’s important to have thick skin and endurance. The glamour of the job fades quickly. Never get attached to one creative campaign and be ready to tackle the next project with consistent drive and passion. The most successful people put in hard work and are committed to developing a beautiful product.
Mai Nozoe was a guest speaker at our monthly Creative Ops Breakfast “Next Generation In-House Creative Services: Living up to the Challenge”, on September 22nd, 2016, in New York City. Watch the recording now.