Welcome to the real world of retail

Retail Gets Real episode 347: Allbirds’ Courtney Nash and Munchkin’s Eugene Choi on the early lessons they’ve learned as young retail leaders.
Sheryll Poe
NRF Contributor

Allbirds’ Courtney Nash and Munchkin’s Eugene Choi have a message for the graduating classes of 2024: Welcome to the real world of retail — you’re definitely going to like it here.

Courtney Nash, manager of footwear planning at Allbirds.
Courtney Nash, manager of footwear planning at Allbirds.

“I knew from day one I was going to end up in retail,” says Nash, manager of footwear planning at Allbirds on this episode of Retail Gets Real. “It was a big part of why I chose the University of Arizona, because their retailing program was so strong.”

Nash worked in a local boutique while in college and went to San Francisco after graduating to work for Gap Inc., where she participated in a 10-month training program rotating through different positions within the company’s brands. The training program helped make a smooth transition from college life to young professional, Nash says. “I’m very thankful for that program,” she says. “I always recommend, when I talk to students, about if they can get into a training program — it was a great adjustment.”

Choi, who started his retail career at PetSmart before moving to his current position as ecommerce merchandising manager at baby lifestyle brand Munchkin, has a similar passion for retail. “Marketing was my major. I’ve always been interested in the psychology of business, the relational aspect, the creativity, the analytical piece,” he says. “Retail is such a customer-facing piece of that whole marketing business world that I was immediately attracted to it.”

Applying for the NRF Foundation’s Next Generation Scholarship was the “a-ha” moment for Choi’s retail career. “It’s something I had never thought of, or had the confidence to really pursue, but being given that opportunity made me realize if I work hard, if I really dive into this, I can make retail my career,” he says.

Eugene Choi, ecommerce merchandising manager at Munchkin.
Eugene Choi, ecommerce merchandising manager at Munchkin.

Now, as young retail professionals with a few years’ experience under their belts, Nash and Choi are finding their voices and speaking up to share ideas and new perspectives. “All of a sudden, you’re no longer presenting or talking to just your colleagues,” Nash says. “You’re talking to people who have been in the industry for 10, 15-plus years. So, it can be very intimidating.”

“The key thing is to do the extra preparation — you know, if you get a presentation, read it beforehand. Come ready. Prepare your question or prepare that idea in advance,” Choi says. “Nobody knows that’s the kind of work that goes into your work, but they can see the intentionality and the effort you put into it.”

Listen to the full episode to hear more of Nash and Choi’s advice to graduating seniors navigating their first retail jobs, how they’ve found professional mentors outside of college, and how to use the “I’m-new-here” card for maximum effect.

The NRF Foundation Next Generation Scholarship is the pinnacle achievement for students interested in pursuing careers in retail and earns students’ recognition among retail leaders. Learn more about the 2024-2025 Next Generation Scholarship application and upcoming deadlines.

Episode transcript, edited for clarity

Bill Thorne: Welcome to Retail Gets Real, where we hear from retail's most fascinating leaders about the industry that impacts everyone, everywhere, every day, I'm Bill Thorne from the National Retail Federation, and it's graduation season, and across the country, young people are transitioning from college students to young professionals.

So today we're talking to two young retail leaders about what it's like to start their first jobs in retail, the early lessons they've learned along the way, and their best advice to graduating seniors navigating next steps. Our guests are Courtney Nash, manager of footwear planning at Allbirds, and Eugene Choi, ecommerce merchandising manager at Munchkin. 

Courtney, Eugene, welcome to Retail Gets Real.

Eugene Choi: Wow. Like, chills hearing that intro. I mean …

Courtney Nash: Hearing it live, it sounds awesome.

Choi: Yeah, and you calling us retail leaders when you've had literal, like CEOs, COOs in the past episodes. I mean, that's … what an honor.

Thorne: You are retail leaders. And, the fact of the matter is … you think about what you've done in the short period of time that you've been out of school, what you did while you were in school, what you did to position yourself for success — that's what leaders do. So, congratulations to you both. And, I must say, it's hard to believe, I mean, I know for you guys, you know, you think about graduating, and it seems like an eternity ago, but it seems like yesterday.  For me, it seems like an eternity ago, and yet at the same time, it just seems like yesterday. So, it's an exciting season for everybody. 

Courtney, when you graduated, was it kind of like, “Oh, dear God, I'm graduating,” or was it like, “Thank God, I'm graduating.”

Nash: It can only be described as bittersweet. I was so excited. I was moving to San Francisco, so I couldn't wait. Just like, big worlds, the real deal. I was so, so pumped. But also, the reality of leaving college, likely never going back, saying goodbye to my friends. I went to school at the University of Arizona, and I just had the best time.

Thorne: Of course, you did. You went to Arizona.

Nash: It was warm. It was great. I had the best friends.

Choi: Warm winters. Yeah.

Nash: Yeah, it was awesome. Eugene can attest to Arizona. It's awesome. So, yeah, bittersweet is the best way to explain it. But I was really excited, and gung-ho to start my career in San Francisco.

Thorne: That's great. Eugene, same? I mean, bittersweet?

Choi: Yeah, I mean, I took the other route. I went to school in the Bay Area, a Jesuit school called Santa Clara University, and I was moving that weekend to PetSmart … to Arizona. So, I made the other switch, and I was excited. And I graduated during COVID, so, I just remember this genuine sense of, “I get to go into the office.” 

Turns out it was remote to start. So, you know, it was kind of bittersweet in the sense that it wasn't the dream, it wasn't, you know, the start that I had imagined. But it was still a good opportunity to kind of create a new scene, new environment, during that time. 

I remember we had graduation that weekend, and it was kind of like a walkthrough. You just like walk, get your diploma with a mask on, all this stuff. I couldn't even go. So, they asked me to film a short clip for one of the parts of graduation. I remember sending that in, and watching it on YouTube as my parents and I were driving to Arizona, so I just have that memory. So, I'm sure no one now will have that experience, so you guys get to have the whole ceremony, which I'm very jealous of, and I hope everybody gets to enjoy that.

Thorne: You know, it’s funny. So, I added an extra little time on my schooling because I wanted to study abroad, so those credits didn't necessarily push over. Everybody says I just went for an extra football season — which is true, but that was not the reason. 

But I think that the amazing thing to me was because most of my friends had graduated the summer before, I didn't want to do it. And my parents insisted that I go through the ceremony, and I am so glad they did because it was so special. I mean, it really kind of put that finality on it a little bit. Like, “OK, this is real. I now need to go out and be an adult.” I still don't know that I've achieved that yet, but I'm getting there. I feel certain. 
Tell us about your current role, Courtney. What are you doing?

Nash: Sure. So, I'm currently with Allbirds, which is a sustainable footwear company based in San Francisco. I am a manager of footwear planning, which is just a fancy way of saying, I basically manage the merchandise or inventory — all the way from forecasting the demand to talking to our factories to make sure we get the supply in order, and getting it here on time. So, essentially supply chain demand forecasting for our entire footwear category.

Thorne: That's pretty cool.  I told Mary before we started, I said, “I guess I should have pulled out my six pair, six pair of Allbirds that I have behind me.  I was a very early adopter of Allbirds, even before they became really, really, really popular. I had the opportunity (and I know he's left the company) to talk to Joey Zwillinger (and this was like eight years ago). And we were in LA, and he came in, and they were all wool shoes, and I was like, “Ew. I mean, wool? It’s hot.” And I would talk to him, and I said, “Do they stink?” And he pulled off his shoe, and he's like, “Take a smell.” 

The fact of the matter is, literally, before he left the convention center (we were in LA), before he left the convention center, I had ordered my first pair of Allbirds. And I will tell you that while I have six here, I've ordered many. I was actually banned by somebody who thought I was overdoing it on my Allbirds, but people were very impressed. And I was really excited to go through the airport and go, “Hey, love your Allbirds.”

Choi: I feel like there are two certainties in my life — taxes and getting compliments on my Allbirds. Like, every time I wear it. Well, my first conversation with our CEO was — he was like walking by, he said, “Hey, nice shoes.” I looked down. We're both wearing Allbirds. Like, all right.

Nash: Music to my ears, you guys. You might have me beat on the pairs you have. That's crazy. (Actually, that's a lie. I have a lot. I have a lot in my closet.)

Thorne:  I actually said to Joey one time … there was a picture in like Forbes or Fortune or something. It was Doug McMillan, CEO of Walmart, and his Allbirds. And so, I sent it to Joey, and his response back was “Nice bird sighting.”  I love that.

Choi: That’s awesome. 

Nash: He always has the good bird puns. Joey was great with those. He kept the spirit alive throughout the office. Even in our office, all of the rooms are like bird names, all from New Zealand. Like very, very interesting what they've done to our [unintelligible]  

Thorne: I love your offices over there too. I had the opportunity to visit several years ago, and I was not aware (I should have been aware, I mean, if I claimed to be an Allbirds fan, I should know everything Allbirds) but I wasn't aware of the shoelaces, so I ended up having to buy some shoelaces while I was there just to be, you know, in.

Nash: Oh, good. Well, they're a fun addition. We used to sell so many different colors of the shoelaces, and people could mix and match. We used to give them away in stores for free. It was an awesome experience, and super fun. I hope we bring that back soon. But yeah, we have a great culture. Very fun. Joey was great. Our other co-founder, Tim [Brown] is awesome. They just had the best story of how they started the business, and it's been an honor to get to work so closely with them, and with our new CEO, Joe [Vernachio]. He's awesome and I feel very lucky to sit, you know, big fish in a smaller pond over here versus my prior job. So, it's really fun to …

Thorne: That's awesome.

Nash: … get a seat at the big table.

Thorne: Well, Eugene. She's at the big table. You work for a company called Munchkin.

Choi: Right. 

Thorne: Do you have big tables at Munchkins?

Choi: No, just everything's kid sized. 

Thorne: So, tell us, what are you doing at Munchkin?

Choi: Yeah, so like I said before, I was a PetSmart, moving from fur babies to now human babies, making products for them. It's exciting because we're a manufacturer for a baby lifestyle brand. We want to be the most loved baby lifestyle brand and create innovative products that make parents' lives easier. So, a lot of folks will probably see our products in Target, Walmart, Amazon. Like our diaper pails, our float highchair that just came out, and our cups, our Miracle Cups that are spill-proof. So, we've got a lot of, you know, these patents. I think we have more patents than people, last time I checked.

So, it's an exciting company to be part of. To be constantly involved in that new product planning process with kind of these deep values of how do we make the world better from a product standpoint, a sustainability standpoint, and just environmental impact. We've got a lot of different programs kind of supporting that mission. So, it's exciting. It is a smaller company, but we get to kind of be hands-on in all those different initiatives.

Thorne: You know, getting into retail … oftentimes you say, “Well, I did this, this, and this, and then I got into retail.” You guys got out of college and went into retail. Did you know when you went to college that that was going to be your career path? That you were going to end your scholastic career, and begin your professional career in retail? Eugene, is that your focus?

Choi: I would say it's not how I started, but I'm not surprised it's how it ended. Marketing was my major. I've always been interested in kind of the psychology of business, the relational aspect, the creativity, the analytical piece. I think I love doing both. It keeps me, you know, active and entertained, and I think retail is just such a customer-facing piece of that whole marketing business world that I was immediately attracted to it. 

I used to think it was such a narrow thing that I couldn't be a part of. But I realized more and more, actually, I've been a part of retail as long as I can remember. I mean, even when I immigrated to the United States, retail was the impact on society, and the impact on me that taught me a lot about American culture, about myself, about what I like, you know? My fondest memories are watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, shopping in Target, or Ikea, you know, walking down the halls of Nordstrom. Like, you know, things that I got to share with my family, and I realized, yeah, this is an industry I want to be a part of and help shape. Yeah. 

Thorne: That's pretty cool. Courtney, you thought you were going to go into retail? 

Nash: This is where Eugene and I complement each other so well. I knew from day one I was going to end up in retail. I didn't know if it was going to be corporate retail, in stores or what. But once I got to college, it was a big part of why I chose the University of Arizona because their retailing program was so strong. One of my older brothers went to University of Arizona. He was in the business school, so I thought I would just go that route. And then I happened to see when I was a senior in high school, already committed to going to U of A, I was like “Cherry on top. They have this retailing program, retailing and consumer sciences. How perfect.”

So just from day one, I was so excited to study it. I knew what I wanted. I loved what I was learning versus high school, where you're just kind of taking all the classes, and I wasn't that excited about school in high school. And then once I got to college, and could actually study retailing and consumerism, and the psychology behind consumer behavior, it was really, really interesting to me.

So, I knew from day one. It sounds so crazy and annoying to hear because that's not how everyone goes about their college realization of what they want to do. But I just kind of knew, from when I was a senior in high school, that was the major for me, and I never questioned it. 

And then, even in college, I got a job working in one of our local boutiques, and so I got to have a taste of what it was like to work on the floor, and actually work with customers, and kind of be a buyer. But then I was much more set, and ready to go to the corporate world after graduation, and I'm very happy I did. Haven't looked back, so I knew from day one.

Thorne: So, you did some work in retail while you were in college and that kind of, you know, prepared you, I guess. When you were done you kind of knew what you were getting into. Did you have that same experience, Eugene, I mean, was there any one experience or anything that you did when you were in college that you feel like really did prepare you for a career in retail?

Choi: I would say the NRF Scholarship, and I'm not just saying that because I'm talking to you, Bill. I genuinely think the moment I submitted the application and got the call back for the next round. It surprised me because it made me think I can be a leader. I can be the next generation. It's something I had never thought of, or had the confidence to really pursue, but being given that opportunity made me realize if I work hard, if I really dive into this, I can make retail my career. And doing the research for those case studies, and doing the interviews, talking to people, networking with people like Courtney … I just cold called her on LinkedIn, and was like, “Hey, you know, mind if I ask you a few questions?” That's how we got first connected, so what a small world that now we're doing this podcast together.

Thorne: I know. That's awesome. It is kind of cool that, you know, the NRF can bring people together, and that they stay together, and it’s a wonderful testament to the industry. But it's also a wonderful testament to my colleagues because that's kind of the culture that we have, and that's what we look for, and that's what we like to experience. And thank you for the plug on the scholarship. That's all happening right now. It's starting up so …

Choi: Sign up.

Thorne: Sign up. You can find more information at NRF dot com. So, you're in the workforce, what was the biggest adjustment, Eugene? I mean, you get out, you have these expectations of what it's going to be like, but there is an adjustment period. What was that for you?

Choi: Yeah, I'm interested to hear what Courtney has to say about this too. But for me it was the amount of free time, or the types of free time. I would go from being so busy in college, day, night, and to just having this big block of time after five o’clock, six o’clock p.m. And then I realized that time — or the way my day was arranged — was purely giving me the freedom to do what I want to do. If I want something, I had to go get it. Nothing was handed out. Nothing was scheduled for me. No clubs were making me do X, Y and Z extracurricular. There was no participation grade. It was like I had to figure out what gave me rest, what gave me joy, what fulfilled me at work and at home, and kind of learning that work-life balance. That was, for me, the biggest adjustment, especially moving to like a new city, being surrounded by new people away from family. I think that was a good point of growth and challenge for me.

Thorne: So, Eugene said that he's interested in your perspective, Courtney, I'm interested in your perspective. What was that like? 

Nash: I had a little bit of handholding right after college when I started my job because I went into a training program with Gap Inc. in San Francisco. And I like to call it a glorified one-year master's program. It was basically a small cohort of us that, basically, rotated through different positions within the Gap brands. So, we rotated through production and merchandising and inventory planning all across Athleta, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Gap, et cetera. So, we were treated as if we were college students still, like in a great way. So, we had half the day in a classroom setting where we were learning from leaders who would come in and teach a class. And then we would, the rest of the day, go back to our teams, and kind of implement that work, sit in on meetings, shadow our managers. So, it was a very structured process for the first 10 months of my career, which is a long time. Where after those 10 months I was so ready to get in my role, be in my position, be on my own team and stand on my own. But it was a really clean and clear adjustment in the transition from college to the work world.

So, I'm very thankful for that program. I honestly don't know if it's still going on, but I always recommend when I talk to students about if they can get into a training program, it was a great adjustment. Some of them are only four weeks or six weeks — either way, it can be a little bit of a cleaner, easier adjustment. 

But everything Eugene said is very accurate, too. It's a big shift in terms of your time scheduling, how to do things outside of work, and you're in a new city, and even just commuting to work, which also now sounds such an old school thought. I had to take the bus to work, and I was just — it was a whole different world from my little bubble in Tucson, Arizona. So, definitely some adjustments, but the training program helped hold my hand a little bit.

Choi: Love that.

Thorne: Now it's really interesting to me, Eugene, because you didn't have that. Same experience, obviously. But you’ve done some really great things in the short time that you've been out of college in your career. But everybody has that first time where they voiced their opinion when they have an idea. And early on in your career, how did you know it was the right time? 

Choi: Yeah, I mean, early on, maybe I didn't know. Maybe it wasn't the right time. But my mentality was just try. Just go for it. But do it properly. And for me, I'm very much an idea person. I love, you know, spitting nonsense at people and hoping it sticks, and I think that's kind of what I did. But I think the key thing is to do the extra preparation, you know, if you get a presentation, read it beforehand. Come ready. Prepare your question or prepare that idea in advance. I think my first presentation, I prepared for days just to answer questions for five minutes, and nobody knows that's the kind of work that goes into your work, but they can see the intentionality and the effort you put into it.  And I think that's kind of the spirit that carried me throughout, just having the confidence to do that. 

I've been told, though, on the flip side, in my early career, very straight on, “It's very rare for someone your age to be doing this” or, “You know, it's not common for someone like you to come in and offer this kind of thing.” And I take that as a kind of a backhanded compliment, and it makes me feel blessed to be in a position I am now. 

And it makes me also think — for those folks who don't have that platform to share their voice. I was struggling with confidence — and I was an individual contributor, but a fluent English speaker, college graduate with a manager who supports me — and I felt, you know, sometimes not confident. And I can only imagine how people may feel if they don't feel like they belong in a room. So, I would say to just try and find a place that will allow you to raise your voice.

Thorne: What do you think, Courtney?

Nash: Yeah, all very well said. I mean, all of a sudden, you're no longer presenting or talking to just your colleagues, like you're talking to people who have been in the industry for 10, 15-plus years. So, it can be very intimidating. And I think something I really learned early on was just making sure you still ask questions, and put your ego aside. There's only so much “fake it till you make it” mentality that can allow you to sustain in the business because you have to be able to stand up, ask questions, be confident in asking your questions, receive the answers, and then go back and learn from it. So, I think it's very helpful to kind of have that time and early on in your career to say, “I don't know what's going on. I'm going to ask the questions. 

I'm going to be confident when I do present because I felt good about all my work. I asked my questions. I know what I'm talking about. I'm not just presenting to present or, again, faking it till you make it.” It can't get you to where for too long, so I think it was a humbling experience to take those first couple years and say, “OK, I’m just going to use my card of ‘I'm fresh out of college.’ I'm going to ask these questions, and then it allows me to grow in the end.”

Thorne: It was nice when I had the excuse, “I'm young and dumb.” I just don't have that excuse — just old and tired. But we try, we try. So, you know, it's interesting to me because when I was in school a hundred years ago, we didn't have mentors per se. I did have a mentor, but I didn't call him a mentor. He was just a very successful person who took me under his wing, and really gave me some great advice, counsel, insights, and took a very real interest in my career — where I was heading, what I was doing — and was always there if I needed to get advice, or someone that could help clear the air because I just didn't understand what was happening at the time. 
So, mentors. I believe they are important. How do you find a mentor when you're in college? Or more importantly, how do you find a mentor when you get out of college? I'll start with you, Courtney.

Nash: Yeah, college actually was a little bit easier to find a mentor because if you're in college, and you're saying, “That person had the internship that I want. I'm going to talk to them.” It's a smaller community, especially if you're in like a particular study or college where it's like, “OK, everyone here is doing retail internships. Everyone here is doing finance internships.” You can really say, “I'm going to sit you down, let's go to Starbucks, and I want to ask you all these questions, and let's maintain a relationship while I'm now applying to that internship or a job, or whatever it may be.” So, I thought college actually was a great place to do that. 

Likely, anyone who's listening to this podcast who is in college probably took advantage of those type of opportunities, and now the question is how you do that in the real world, per se. And I think that's where, again, my confidence spiel comes into play of, use your student card as long as you can, and say, “I admire what you've done in your career. I've seen you go from this company to this company, and now you've been here for however many years, and I love what you do, and I just want to ask you questions, shadow you, or just pick your brain.” I mean, it's an annoying statement to make, but it's very true and can really help. 

And I think that it's just coming down to making those relationships and just remembering that — they're people, too. They're probably honored and flattered by you approaching them, so why not? You have nothing to lose and just ask for a little bit of their time and just to kind of pick their brain.  
Thorne: You know, Eugene, you said something earlier. You said, you know, “People would make this comment like, normally young people don't come in at this point in time in their career and offer this kind of good advice or these comments,” and you said it was kind of “a backhanded compliment.”

I would say it's more of a pat on the back, and now the people that I work with — obviously much younger than I am — but I really do enjoy when somebody does speak up, somebody does offer a perspective that I hadn't thought about. I'm kind of a troglodyte, and when it comes to the technology and some of the things that we could do that we hadn't thought of doing or we’ve never done before. And when somebody offers that up, it may not be practical, but I really do appreciate them taking the time to think it through, and say, “Well, maybe we can apply it this way.” So, I don't think it's a backhand compliment and I think it's a pat on the back, so …

Choi: Yeah. It depends on the delivery, right? I like yours, Bill. I like yours. Like, let's talk more often.

Thorne: Well, there's that. Even though I do give my, like, “What the hell are you talking about?” That's usually how I start, and then I say, “Thank you for your thoughts.” But all right. On the mentorship. Now, you had mentors in college, obviously. How is it finding mentors after college?

Choi: Yeah, after college, you know, you are kind of left on your own. But it's still finding those little circles where, where you can leverage your, “I'm new here” card, like Courtney said. I think it's everywhere. I think there are a lot of people who've been in your shoes more than you would think — being in that room and gone somewhere without knowing anything. And so, it's really just about putting your foot out there, and knowing the worst they can say is no, or just ignore you. But just give it a shot. 

And I found a lot of success in finding mentors in unexpected places. With people who don't look like me or I would [not have] imagined even having a close connection with. Like all of my greatest mentors have been women, and in different states and different cities, and I keep close contact with my mentors because they offer me great advice, and great insight into perspectives I'd never [have] thought of. So, it's just maintaining an open line with them, and sharing interest things that they would find interesting because I guarantee, like you coming in, you and your career, you have a lot more interesting insight than you think and offering that to them, and getting advice back, that's a great way to build that relationship.

Thorne: You know, it's funny when you do, you know, advance in your career, and you're talking to someone, and you just think — this is an observation — when somebody goes, “That's a really keen observation.” You're like, “Ooh, I must be getting old.” I mean. you never hear that when you're young. It's just like, “Oh, OK. Well, I'm older and smarter.” So, what do you, Courtney, love most about retail and your job?

Nash: So, products — I love. I think it's back to my college degree — understanding the consumer behavior behind buying patterns and everything is so interesting, and that's not what I do. Basically, I love products and that was like day one, love product, and consumerism was what makes me very interested. 
But essentially now what I do is I say, “OK, how can I predict these buying behaviors for my products?” So, I love the product that I work for. I love Allbirds. Love the shoes. Great. Step one. 

Then I can say, “How can I actually put this love into my forecast?” So, my love for consumer behavior, how can I now say I can predict the pattern of how someone's going to buy our shoes — whether it be because of a new color launch, a new style launch, seasonality, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, promotions, discounts, so much marketing. There's so much that goes on into just the numbers I put on paper. 

So, that's what makes me excited about my job is: I work with this tangible product that I love, and I know customers love, and that I can put the kind of art and science, marry them together to make this forecast that I hope is met, and that I can work on the financial side of it, work the factory side of it, and it becomes very complex, which makes me very interested in my day-to-day job.

Thorne: if you've listened to one episode of retail Gets Real, you know that I always talk about passion. If you don't have a passion for this industry, you don't belong here because it's hard. It's not easy. And if you're not passionate about what you do, that hard becomes harder. And if you're passionate about what you do, that hard becomes easier.  
Eugene, what do you love most about retail and your job?

Choi: Yeah, I would echo Courtney on — working with great products is amazing. I mean, it is what drives my passion. But secondary to that, I would say is the people. I've loved working in retail and meeting new people. I think in retail you have to be cross-functional. You have to work with different teams. You have to work with many types of people from many different backgrounds, and it's kind of learning to be curious, be humble, always learning, and I love building bridges within those relationships. I love getting lunch with them, learning what they do, and translating into how I can help them and how we can work together on the same team. So, for me, that's what really energized me about retail. 

And the fact that every day is different, whether you like it or not, you're going to walk into a completely different scenario than perhaps the day or the week before. And there's no other industry where it demands so much of you, yet it rewards you with so much experience, and excitement, and knowledge.

Thorne: That's awesome. All right, so we're almost out of time or we are out of time, but I'm going to ask this last question because I am interested in your perspective.  What excites you, Courtney Nash, about the future of retail?

Nash: Oh my gosh. There's truly so much. I think the easiest, quickest answer is the technology. We're sitting on the precipice of so much at our fingertips. I mean, the way we get to know our customers. The way we can actually alter our branding and our messaging to hit our customer at the right time, in the right place with brand-right marketing. It's really, really interesting. So, I think that's what excites me the most, is just seeing what our creative and our branding and our marketing can become, the way consumers actually want to see us so we can actually play in the big leagues. We can say, “Hey, we're here and we can offer you this,” and give the customer something they want before they even know they want it. So, using the technology and the branding and creative to really get us in front of the customer, and I think that makes me excited no matter what brand I'm working for. It's just the bigger picture of what, you know, consumerism looks like today. 

Thorne: Eugene?

Choi: Yeah, I would agree. I would say technology. And especially being in ecommerce, I'm so always interested in the digital, and the omnichannel, and how it all connects, and makes everyone's lives better, easier. I think especially with growing interest in sustainability. Like that, you know, shoe company out in San Francisco. As well as, you know, growing Gen Z market, and their habits — how can retail inform what we need to purchase, and we need to do to help the environment, to help our society, and kind of shape the world, and I think retailers have that burden of responsibility. So, I'm excited to see what we can do.

Thorne: Courtney Nash and Eugene Choi. It has been a distinct pleasure talking with you both. You are the future of retail, and one day somebody that's going to be behind this microphone is going to be welcoming you as a CEO to give perspectives of your career, and the future of retail. Thank you for joining us today on Retail Gets Real.  

Choi & Nash: Thank you for having us, Bill. 

Thorne: Thank you all for listening to another episode of Retail Gets Real. You can find more information about this episode at retail gets real dot com. I'm Bill Thorne. This is Retail Gets Real. Thanks for listening. Until next time.


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