TGS Holdings is adding to its leadership team at the start of 2021.
The parent company to Extra Butter, Renarts, Crusoe & Sons and other retail destinations has tapped Louis Colon III to fill its SVP of brand and business development role. Colon will report to CEO Ankur Amin and CFO Nick Amin, and will work closely with creative director Bernie Gross.
He will start effective Jan. 6, 2021.
In this position, Colon will be responsible for leading a growth opportunity-focused team at Extra Butter, with a focus on building the brand across all product categories and community engagement through an experiential vision. Colon will be tasked with creating and executing brand partnerships through an omnichannel approach.
The footwear and fashion industry veteran last worked for Fila, his employer of 10 years, last serving as its VP of heritage and trend. Prior to Fila, he was the owner, manager and buyer of the women’s-focused Laces Sneaker Boutique in New York City and was the founder and publisher of sneaker culture magazine Kicksclusive.
Below, Colon shares with FN his goals for TGS, the professional opportunities the company presents and why his new role was the ideal next step after 10 years at Fila.
With a decade at Fila and growing nationwide job security concerns that COVID-19 has caused, why was now the time for you to leave to join TGS?
“I actually didn’t leave Fila to join TGS. Those conversations were totally independent. Actually, there was a nice month break in between those two conversations. At Fila, I felt like I was done, that I achieved everything I thought I could with the brand, and I wanted to take this opportunity to better myself. As I did this career audit, I knew I knew in my heart of hearts that bridging culture and commerce is my real calling, and if I looked at where the market is going and I bet on my insight, I knew well enough that brands and other industries will be interested. I talked to my wife and we sat down and said, ‘OK, now’s the time for me to step away from Fila, from a really good brand that has great people.’ For me and my personal growth and journey, it was time to step away. Then, the conversation organically happened with Ankur, and that leads us to today. We were like, ‘Let’s make this happen, let’s move forward.’ And 2021 couldn’t kick off any better, to be honest.”
What made joining TGS a desirable move?
“I did 10 years at a brand prior to that, I had my own publication and I had my own store, a women’s sneaker shop back in 2005 that was a boutique experience with the best of best product offering from Nike and other brands. When I saw that, I just felt parallels and 15 years later it still resonated with me. I think there’s going to be this big dichotomy of retail where you’re going to have these big multi-door chains and then there’s going to be a hyper focused spotlight on what these boutique fashion retailers can do in an experiential way. There’s an opportunity for retailers like Extra Butter to really become the focal point for culture and commerce. What I do best is bridge culture and commerce, and I thought through the lens of EB, I could come there really be an accelerant for growth for them. And I’m excited by leadership that’s there — Nick, Ankur, Bernie — they’re really good people not only in the industry, but in the community. People know them and respect them.”
Is Extra Butter your main priority? Or will you work with all of the TGS banners?
“EB is my main priority, but hopefully what I’m able to do with EB in the immediate translates to Renarts and to the rest of the rest of the TGS family. Right. Because we could just build best practices that can then scale into the rest of the business. That is the goal.”
Prior to joining TGS, how do you think all of the banners were looked at by both the industry and consumers?
“People always cared about EB. They saw it grow, and watching them open up the LIC people were like, ‘Wow, that’s awesome.’ People are always proud and excited for them. But the challenge for EB and the team and with me joining is how to keep them even further engaged and further excited and keeping that customer loyalty growing because there’s a lot of competition. Simply put, there’s a lot of good retailers and brands doing amazing things. Now is a perfect time to refocus and re-strategize and sit down with the team and think about what the runway is for the next 12 months to 36 months.”
What opportunities does this TGS present that you have been missing throughout your career?
“This will be the first time since I had the retail shop that I’ll be talking to all of the brands. Being at a brand, you only interact with the retailers. The unique opportunity is that now I get to actually be in the conversation with the best brands that they bring in house, and that leads to the opportunity to discuss what we can do to carve out unique partnerships with each of them. I have some lofty goals as far as who we could and should be partnering with. And when I sat down with the guys, they care about social justice, they care about diversity, they care about sustainability. Those key markers are things that they care intimately about and I’m going to see how I can be more of a part of that where I haven’t really had an opportunity in my career to really lead the charge for those tentpoles. Over my career, I’ve done probably 300-plus collaborations on different scales — some global, some domestic, some footwear, some apparel, some full collections. The new opportunity here is to now take collaborations and partnerships through a multi-vendor lens and take it to the next level, especially with retail doors like Long Island City and LES where you get to build out experiences. I think the sky is the limit.”
What in your near 20 years of footwear and fashion industry experience has best prepared you for this new role?
“The amount of projects I’ve done, the diversity of collaborations that I’ve done over my career or the go-to-market plans that I’ve put together with retailers globally has definitely prepared me. But I also think me being an entrepreneur has totally prepared me because I’m able to talk to the team of entrepreneurs at EB and it’s so eye-to-eye, so relatable. It’s not a corporate structure, there’s not a lot of red tape, so if an idea passes the sniff test, if it makes sense financially, if it makes sense for the consumer and for the brand partners, then the guys are willing to move forward and invest in it and test things out, which is really the entrepreneurial spirit.”
What are your goals for TGS?
“My goal is to put the team on a calendar and a cadence of planning, really go back to the ethos so that way they can stand on who they are, no matter what the project is — and that’s community focus inspired by fashion, by film, sports, music, art and culture. Underneath each one of those, I will challenge the team and ask, ‘What are we doing in the sports world? What can be movie pick of the month? And how do we story-tell and build products around all of those notes? What is happening in the world of fashion? What’s in the world of art? What’s happening culturally that we can build stories from and engagement through product experience that really makes it the centerpiece of that conversation?’ Consistency and cadence is key for the consumer, and once you build that then you have evangelists. And once you have evangelists, the sky is the limit because everyone is going to be proud to be a part of something in the community that you’re building. My test is what have I built in six months? What have I built in 12 months? Are we getting more engagement from the consumer? Is that consumer base growing exponentially because we’re getting other consumers to evangelize for the brand? Those are the real markers of growth.”