Women Of The C-Suite: Beatrice Purdy of ‘Measure & Made’ On The Five Things You Need To Succeed As A Senior Executive

One major challenge that women executives have to face is balancing motherhood with your career. It is sometimes a real struggle to have a work/ life balance when running a company. I think women put so much pressure on themselves to be the “best mom” or the “best boss” and ultimately wind up feeling that they aren’t pleasing anyone. You only need to please yourself! Today you may be better at one thing and tomorrow another, as long as you know you tried your hardest that’s what matters.

As a part of our series about strong women leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Beatrice Purdy.

Beatrice Purdy is the president of women’s apparel company, Park Avenue Apparel, Inc. Since April 2018, she has spearheaded the branding, merchandising, marketing, eCommerce sales, operations, and consumer insights for the brand’s revolutionary apparel subset, Measure & Made. Beatrice has taken her 17 years of experience within eCommerce and retail to drive brand visibility, increase sales, and cultivate a positive consumer shopping experience.

Prior to joining Park Avenue Apparel, she was the Digital Vice President of Juniors and Special Sizes at Macy’s, where she was responsible for improving the digital shopping experience and contributing to omnichannel growth. Throughout her tenure, she aided in the launch of Thalia Sodi, Macy’s biggest female private label launch at the time and the first private brand that catered to the department store’s Latina demographic. In addition, Beatrice has held coveted buying positions within the cosmetics and apparel categories, focusing specifically on women’s contemporary clothing, denim, better bottoms, coats, and classification sportswear. Earlier in her career, she also worked for Ross Stores, Inc., where she gained valuable experience within the off-price retail sector.

Beatrice attended Boston University, where she received a Bachelor of Arts. She resides in Staten Island, NY with her husband, daughter, and two dogs. She enjoys traveling, dining out or cooking in, and spending time with family and friends.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Looking back now, fashion was always an undercurrent in my life. I remember drawing ladies in different outfits for an assignment as far back as the 1st grade and would even accessorize my pajamas with belts and headbands and would beg my mom to let me use her shoes and handbags to dress up. When I was in college figuring out what I wanted to pursue for my career, an Aunt mentioned to me that most department stores had buying programs. I knew right away that’s what I wanted to do. I’ve been in the retail world for 16 years now and have a department store, off-price, and e-commerce experience. Prior to becoming President at Measure & Made, I was a Digital Vice President at Macy’s.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Two months into starting my position I found out I was pregnant. It was wonderful news but it accelerated my timeline of getting Measure & Made up and running as quickly and efficiently as possible. One month prior to giving birth, we launched the brand website and kicked off our journey of giving women their perfect fit!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

On our first trip overseas to visit our factories, we attempted to cram too much into one trip! It was planes, trains, automobiles, with very little sleep, on loop. All future trips were planned with ample time for working, sleeping and eating.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. What is it about the position of CEO or executive that most attracted you to it?

The most attractive thing to me was being able to truly shape a business and make a meaningful impact. With Measure & Made, it is my job to drive the overall vision of the brand. Having that responsibility and power to create change is really exciting for me.

Most of our readers — in fact, most people — think they have a pretty good idea of what a CEO or executive does. But in just a few words can you explain what an executive does that is different from the responsibilities of the other leaders?

As an executive at a startup, I am involved in every aspect of the company: financials, product assortments, fittings, marketing strategy, creative, website maintenance, promotions, customer service, etc. A good amount of the day is spent strategizing both short and long-term strategies to propel our business forward, as well as organizing internal meetings with our various teams. Unlike other leadership roles, it’s my job to keep everyone (from the bottom to the top of the ladder) focused and moving the bus forward.

What is the one thing that you enjoy most about being an executive?

As I mentioned earlier, the best thing about being an executive is having the power to create change and really shape the business. I love having my hands in a little bit of everything and thinking on a macro level about what is needed to make the company stronger as a whole.

What are the downsides of being an executive?

One of the downsides of being an executive is that when the business is struggling, that weight is on your shoulders. Like many other companies, the pandemic has put a major damper on our business in all aspects. Sales declined by 65% and securing capital became next to impossible. I had to strategize what was best to save the company, which included temporarily furloughing staff, canceling all-new Fall launches, and cutting back tremendously on marketing to maintain efficiency. I had to make a lot of tough calls, but they were necessary. Business is slowly improving and I am sure we will bounce back to normal in 2021.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CEO or executive. Can you explain what you mean?

I think that there is a myth that once you are in a leadership position, there are certain things that are “below” your title which you will never have to do. I think that especially since Measure & Made is a small team and a startup environment, there is nothing beneath anyone. While my job mostly entails higher level, big picture stuff, it doesn’t mean I refuse to do the small things that need to get done. Executives need to be willing to do anything and everything to make sure the business runs smoothly.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

One major challenge that women executives have to face is balancing motherhood with your career. It is sometimes a real struggle to have a work/ life balance when running a company. I think women put so much pressure on themselves to be the “best mom” or the “best boss” and ultimately wind up feeling that they aren’t pleasing anyone. You only need to please yourself! Today you may be better at one thing and tomorrow another, as long as you know you tried your hardest that’s what matters.

What is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?

I wouldn’t say there is a stark difference in what I had expected before starting here. I’ve been in the retail world for many years now and have really honed in on what it takes to drive sales in this specific market. My expectations of the job were very similar to what it actually is, and my past experience has certainly helped to prepare me. I think the only real learning curve was the fact that Measure & Made is a DTC brand and more of a startup environment, compared to my previous experience at larger, more corporate department stores.

Certainly, not everyone is cut out to be an executive. In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful executive and what type of person should avoid aspiring to be an executive?

First and foremost, I think that all successful executives need to be passionate about what they do. With Measure & Made, I wholeheartedly believe in our mission and will always fight for what’s best for the company because of that. I obviously also think that strong leadership skills are key. You need to be decisive and clear with your vision, and you can’t let people walk all over you. As for things to avoid, I think that anyone who is in it just for the job title doesn’t deserve the title. It is a lot of hard work to be an executive, so your heart has to be in it and not just your ego.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

I think that other female leaders need to be clear on expectations, but also express compassion and understanding in order for their team to thrive. At the end of the day, we are all human. I make sure to prioritize my family time and if emergencies happen, they happen. Being flexible and making sure your team is taking care of themselves is key to a healthy work environment.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have been very lucky to have several mentors through the years, all of whom were women. They contributed to my success because they helped me develop my strengths and improve my weaknesses. Most importantly, they didn’t micromanage and fostered an environment where you could speak your mind and bring new ideas to the table. Their guidance and support helped me become both a better worker and a better boss which contributed to where I am today. The only way to grow is to learn. Mentors can provide insight from past experience and help lead you in a direction that you hadn’t originally anticipated, or help push you out of your comfort zone to try something new, or even to reset and start over.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

With my role at Measure & Made, I have really tried to use my success to evolve the antiquated fit system within the retail world. The average woman has 103 things in her closet and 78% of it doesn’t fit, largely due to the fact that the female apparel sizing system has not changed since the 1950s. This a staggering number fueled by years of vanity sizing built around the “ideal” hourglass shape. No two women have the same body, so why should they be expected to fit into the same size? I hope that the world can be a better place thanks to our work at Measure & Made, which is trying to find a solution to the fit problems that many women face and empower them.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1, 2, 3, 4, and 5…Don’t sweat the small stuff!!!! It’s taken many years to not fret over every little detail and nuance of business. Inevitably, something will always go wrong, but how you manage through it will make the difference.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

As I mentioned earlier, there is a major problem within the retail industry, and I hope our work at Measure & Made can create a movement to solve this. Brands often portray their styles as plus size before truly getting to know the plus-size woman of today. In the US, the average retailer will characterize sizes above 14 as “plus-size,” when the average woman is really between a size 16 and 18. Because of this, the options for stylish clothing are extremely limited, often leaving women with few choices or having to pay steep charges for custom clothing. We are proud to offer inclusive options from size 0–28, so women of all shapes and sizes can enjoy our perfectly fitting pants.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

This quote is something that I came across when I was younger that always inspired me: “No one knows the mysteries of life or its ultimate meaning, but for those who are willing to believe in their dreams and in themselves, life is a precious gift in which anything is possible.” -Dena Di Iaconi

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them

Last year I attended a Glossy conference in which Rebecca Minkoff was one of the featured speakers. We are both the same age as well as mothers, and I was so impressed with everything she has accomplished and continues to do.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

Women Of The C-Suite: Beatrice Purdy of ‘Measure & Made’ On The Five Things You Need To Succeed As… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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