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Scott Meden Reflects on 37-Year Career at Nordstrom as He Joins FN Hall of Fame

On Nov. 30, Scott Meden will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at the 36th annual FN Achievement Awards. Below is an article from the magazine’s Nov. 28 print issue, where Meden reflects on his storied career.

Earlier this year, Nordstrom announced that its chief marketing officer Scott Meden would retire after 37 years of service with the Seattle-based department store chain.

Meden began his career at Nordstrom in 1985, working in the shoe department of the company’s Rack location in Bellevue, Wash. “I started with no intention of having a career in retail, I just needed to pay the rent while I finished college,” Meden told FN. “I kind of stumbled into it.”

Meden noted that those first 15 to 20 years were particularly exciting as he got to play a role in Nordstrom’s expansion across the country. “When I started, we were just in the Northwest and only had a presence in California for a few years,” Meden recalled. “So when you think back, it was not a given that we were going to successfully scale our business across the country. And, it’s funny, as soon as we got to a good place in our expansion and stopped building new stores across the country, e-commerce started. We launched online as ‘the world’s biggest shoe store’ in 1998 with the tagline ‘make room for shoes.’”

And throughout those years, Meden was fully immersed in the retailer’s shoe division. During his tenure, he supported multiple Nordstrom divisions in a variety of roles, including buyer, regional merchandiser manager, business planning and analysis director and DMM. In 2006, he was named president of Nordstrom Rack, growing the store count from 50 to 89 stores. And in 2010, he returned to the flagship banner as EVP and GMM of shoes, before being promoted to CMO in 2016.

In his nearly four decades in retail, Meden witnessed many significant footwear trends, included the skyrocketing fame of the classic Ugg boot in the early 2000s. “The team over at [Ugg parent company] Deckers was super thoughtful about growth and distribution of the boot, and that really made that launch successful,” Meden recounted.

Scott Meden, Nordstrom, FNAA
Scott Meden
CREDIT: Vivian Hsu

And there have been other blockbuster brands as well. “David Kahan at Birkenstock has also done the same thing with creating moments around its Arizona sandal,” said Meden. “And who could forget about Toms, which took off right when I became GMM. Now, there’s the resurgence of Crocs. It’s fun to see the progressions of these big brand moments.”

Asked about some of his biggest influences in the industry, Meden acknowledged the late Blake Nordstrom as a close mentor and friend, as well as Pete Nordstrom, Jeffrey Kalinsky and Jack Minuk. “I learned so much about leadership from Jack,” Meden said of Minuk, a longtime Nordstrom shoe exec who retired in 2010. “He took the time to get to know everyone on a personal level, so when it came time for difficult decisions or discussions, it was easier because you knew he cared.

“On the designer side, I learned a ton from Sam Edelman, Steve Madden, Vince Camuto, Caleres’ Diane Sullivan and Christian Louboutin and his CEO, Alexis Mourot,” Meden said. Mourot told FN, “Scott has been, for many years, an amazing partner. I remember very well the first time Jeffrey [Kalinsky] introduced us to each other by saying that ‘we will do well together,’ and after 15 years I can say that he was 100% right, as I have a lot of respect for what Scott has accomplished during his career and how he built such a strong business and relationship with us.”

As for his proudest accomplishment, Meden pointed to two things: being a part of maintaining and developing one of Nordstrom’s core categories, and watching his coworkers grow and flourish within the company and industry. “That’s the thing that is most exciting to me,” he added.

Longtime colleagues offer their thoughts on the retail leader:

Pete Nordstrom, president and chief brand officer, Nordstrom
“Scott has contributed mightily to Nordstrom over the past 37 years. What I admire most about him is his consistent positivity and solution orientation. He leads from the front and by example by putting the customer first and being a great teammate and business partner. He does this with remarkable authenticity and humanity.”

Susan Itzkowitz, president, Marc Fisher
“Working with Scott Meden during his tenure with Nordstrom was a great experience. His dedication to Nordstrom, his team and, most importantly, the Nordstrom customer was unparalleled. Scott has always proved himself to be a great footwear merchant, brand builder and supportive partner to Marc Fisher Footwear and the industry.”

Sam Edelman, founder and president, Sam Edelman Shoes
“One of the most coveted periods in my life and career was my time working alongside Scott Meden. Scott is the embodiment of a true gentleman, leading with integrity, vision and excellence, a pillar of Nordstrom’s longstanding tradition. Scott fostered an incredible team with his warmth, intelligence and curiosity for the consumer. He is always invested in what’s next, whether its fashion, business or future talent. Scott leaves behind a legacy that has imprinted tremendously on our industry and our consumers.”

Tacey Powers, EVP and GMM for shoes, Nordstrom
“Scott is the whole package as a boss and a leader. He is a teacher at heart, and his goal was always to make you better. He is the ultimate servant leader and was never too busy to roll up his sleeves and do whatever was needed to get the work done, even shifting a stockroom or helping to put away shoes in the backroom. While he always worked beside you, he would also pull up and guide you. Scott modeled humility, which is at the center of our culture and core to our values at Nordstrom. I always appreciated his transparent feedback on how I could be better. I believe his feedback was critical in getting me to where I am today. Scott also made work fun and was always up for anything, including karaoke. We belted out a pretty good rendition of ‘Rocky Mountain High’ at our Nashville store opening and hit all the harmonies!”

For 36 years, the annual FN Achievement Awards — often called the “Shoe Oscars” — have celebrated the style stars, best brand stories, ardent philanthropists, emerging talents and industry veterans. The 2022 event is supported by presenting sponsor Nordstrom, as well as Caleres, FDRA, Merrell, Vibram and Volumental.

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