Revealed: The Digital Habits Of Shoe Designers & Industry Execs

Information comes from every direction nowadays — whether it’s news on Twitter, video updates on Snapchat or the daily stream of emails and text. Keeping up with the flow takes not only a rapid response, but also a keen grasp of what matters and why.

Footwear News connected with six industry leaders to find out how they curate their digital life: who they’re following, what inspires them and if there’s actually such as thing as going “offline.”

Blake Mycoskie — Founder & chief shoe giver, Toms

What are your favorite social media platforms?
Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. I am not on Snapchat yet.

Who influences you online?
My favorite followers are the Toms fans I get to meet globally. It’s great when they post a pic and I see it online. It reminds me of my travels and how in the past 10 years Toms has grown. I am so fortunate to get to meet so many awesome people. Right now I am so inspired by Charlize Theron. She is doing some beautiful work with CTAOP, and I find myself invested in her travels and efforts. Malala Yousafzai is another brilliant young woman that I am so inspired by. Every day is different. Social media is great because you get a glimpse into what your favorite influencers are doing in general.

What are your go-to news outlets?
Every day after some coffee and meditation, I check out Huffington Post, The New York Times and sometimes CNN. Well, those were the three that I happened to look at today. It varies.

Are you ever offline?
It’s important to go offline sometimes. Especially since my son Summit was born, I value that offline time so much. It’s easy to get consumed by work and by social media, photos, text messages, etc. Taking that time to spend with my family, or just by myself during meditation and workouts, is precious. I feel like a better man, husband, father and leader at Toms when I have some downtime without my technology.

Couldn’t that impact business operations?
Fortunately, I have a great leadership team at Toms, and I feel confident that should an issue arise that needs immediate attention, they will handle it. My team and family always know how to reach me, but they respect my time offline.

Does Toms have any protocols regarding mobile connectivity?
We have a fitness room for workout classes and meditation. If you step into that room, you are not allowed to have any sort of phone or computer. That room is strictly for focusing on fitness or meditation. That is our employee time to go offline. If you are caught with a mobile device, you will be asked to leave the room. We take our health and wellness very seriously.

Blake Mycoskie Toms
Blake Mycoskie
CREDIT: Ryan McAmis.

Bill Brand — President, HSN

What are your favorite social media platforms?
Facebook to stay connected with friends and colleagues; Instagram to stay up to date on what’s trending in footwear, fashion and beyond. I’m excited about the opportunities that video platforms like Facebook and Instagram’s Boomerang can offer a content retailer like HSN. We recently shot Boomerang videos during a fashion shoot to showcase fall footwear styles in August and September.

Who is influencing you?
Brian Stelter in media. NeNe Leakes — not only because she is an HSN partner, but her posts are fun and irreverent. Kickstarter for new, innovative ideas. Steve Barr of PwC for retail and consumer insights. Peter Diamandis, author of “Bold,” for a focus on business and doing good. And Vivek Wadhwa — I heard him on NPR and found his perspective on technology fascinating.

How do you like to communicate professionally: text or email?
It depends on the situation. A quick text can be appropriate, or an email. But if it’s important, or needs a personal touch, I prefer to pick up the phone.

Are you ever offline?
HSN is a 24/7 operation. There’s no going offline. We are intense about our focus as the original content-driven retailer. I was just on vacation in Aspen, and even while hiking in the mountains, there was no break. Thanks to my iPhone, I was connected. That said, I have built a strong team of leaders who know how to make decisions independently.

Is that true across all of HSN?
Although we are 24/7, it’s important for our employees to find balance between their work and personal lives. We’re mindful of this and encourage our employees to allow for time to disconnect when necessary, while still managing their work appropriately. We can all believe we’re more important than we are, but if it doesn’t work when we’re not present, there are larger, more fundamental issues that need to be addressed.

Chloe Gosselin — Founder & creative director

What are your favorite social media platforms?
Definitely Instagram. I have this special connection to images and love the idea that anybody can create a mood board of their life. I also recently got into Snapchat, which is more fun than any other platform. I keep the content on each platform unique. On Instagram, it’s well thought out and curated. On Snapchat, you get an inside glimpse at my life and behind the scenes of my business.

Who do you like to follow?
On Snapchat, my favorite accounts are Vogue and Footwear News for my fashion news. And my friend Kelly Oxford, who creates characters with Snapchat filters, is hilarious and Oscar-worthy. And I love to get inspiration on Instagram. My favorites are @NewYorkVintageInc, @Natgeo, @Colossal, @Nowness and @cfda.

How do you share your design vision through online platforms?
I try through my social media accounts to make a connection between the shoes and myself — what influences me and what speaks to me. I always try to balance it out. I shoot the shoes in real-life situations but always give a feel of my artistic sensibility through the images. I can show my lifestyle but still hold back so my followers just have a sense of it and can make it part of their own mood board.

Do you have an assistant who helps with your correspondence?
I know a lot of people who work like that — and it might be the best way to be thorough, especially when the number of emails increases — but for now, I don’t have my assistant check my emails. I do try to have her [copied] on most communications, just to be sure I don’t miss anything.

Are you ever offline?
Rarely. Thanks to my phone, I can reply to emails pretty much anywhere and at any time. However, I do try to go offline at certain times, such as after picking up my daughter from school, so I can have quality time with her. It’s perfect timing because it’s already late in New York and Italy by then.

Chloe Gosselin Shoes
Chloe Gosselin
CREDIT: Ryan McAmis.

Jason Faustino — Co-owner & creative director, Extra Butter

What are your favorite social media platforms?
My favorite is Twitter — it’s the only platform focused more on thoughts. Even with limited characters, I find Twitter has more depth than the others.

Who do you follow on Twitter?
Hypebeast, Sneaker News, Indiewire for movies, Harvard Biz Review, Entrepreneur for business stuff, and a lot of sports accounts, mostly hockey.

And the other platforms?
Instagram is very addictive. On there, I focus mostly on brands I’m into. Other than that, it’s used to interact with friends and keep up a bit. I’ve dabbled on Snapchat, but I don’t see it being worth my time.

What are your go-to news outlets?
I follow The New York Times and Vice on Twitter. And some of the friends I follow seem to be thorough about retweeting news as well.

When it comes to keeping up with correspondence, do you have help from an assistant?
Emails are such an important communication tool, but one missing — and crucial — element is that face-to-face conversations include such a particular tone of voice and body language. So I believe emails need to be responded to by the people who received them — the more human and genuine, the better, in my opinion. I understand that the volume gets completely out of control [for some people] — and even with me using a Blackberry or having a subway commute above ground with service along the way, it gets overwhelming. But it’s important for responses to come from the person the email was intended for.

Do you ever go offline?
Going offline is difficult. Lately, I’ve been getting into the outdoors and exploring nature a bit more, and you usually have no choice but to be offline given lack of service in some of these areas.

How does that impact operations?
Extra Butter places a big emphasis on communication, and we all try to be — and are — as responsive as possible. So even when some of us are away or offline, emails still get responded to within a day.

Jim Harris — CEO, OluKai

What are your favorite social media platforms?
I don’t get a lot of active social media time — I’m more of a content consumer than a content generator.

What do you think of today’s social media culture?
Snapchat has made me stop and think. When I was a kid — and even still today — I looked at myself once a day in a bathroom mirror. Today, kids take pictures of themselves a hundred times a day and send them to all their friends. I tell my kids all the time: “It’s not all about you.”

How do you like to communicate professionally: text or email?
The mobile device has democratized company communication. It’s not uncommon for it to cross platforms, from email, text, Skype or other messaging services. All can be used professionally in certain circumstances. Practically speaking, formal business communication should be archived. Texting doesn’t easily allow for that, making email the gold standard for professional communication.

Are you ever able to go offline?
I make it a point to be accessible anytime for key company matters, but I also work hard to get unplugged from time to time — not only for personal reasons but also because I think it is a best business practice. Oftentimes, an executive is 100 percent available for 100 percent of issues. That creates an environment in which managers rely on the executive for everything. Being selectively offline forces management engagement and gets your team online.

Liz Rodbell — President of Hudson’s Bay and Lord & Taylor

What are your favorite social media platforms?
Instagram and Twitter are my daily go-tos. I follow a variety of media, designers, influencers and musicians. Some of my Instagram and Twitter favorites are Eva Chen, DVF, Thom Browne and, of course, Hudson’s Bay and Lord & Taylor.

What are your go-to news outlets?
WWD, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Globe & Mail are a few that I start the day with.

How do you like to communicate professionally: text or email?
I prefer to use email; it has a more personal touch, but some people may prefer texting. You should do what works for you and your team and the business.

Do you have an assistant help you keep up with your correspondence?
I respond to my own emails — I find it is more efficient. Our culture at Hudson’s Bay Co. is very much one where executives at every level respond personally through email. Since email is our main communication tool, it’s a great way to always be connected to my team.

Are you always available to respond to messages?
On the rare occasion that I go offline, I know I can depend on my team to respond on my behalf to the most urgent matters. For example, I will be in Rio this month for the Summer Olympic Games, so I will not always be able to access my email, but my team knows I will check my email several times a day.

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