Oliver Walsh: Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur

As Aritzia’s Chief Marketing Officer, Oliver Walsh is an innovator with an entrepreneurial spirit who sits at the intersection of the fashion and digital industries. Walsh brings his deep experience and understanding of brand, retail and technology to keep Aritzia at the forefront of the evolving landscape. Walsh joined Aritzia in 2013 after having founded the creative agency Wednesday, which is currently regarded as the pre-eminent agency for the fashion and luxury industries.

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
As CMO of Aritzia, I work to drive business growth through creative and innovative solutions by overseeing the Marketing, Communications, E-commerce, Creative Services and Business Development departments. I spend my time between the Vancouver headquarters and the New York office as well as traveling to our 60+ stores across North America. 

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
Whilst on the launch of Aritzia’s e-commerce site, I was privileged to be invited onto the Board of Directors by CEO Brian Hill. In learning about the business in a greater depth, I felt that Aritzia was the single most exciting business in the global fashion sector – filling a unique space and with enormous potential for growth. Opportunities to be involved with a similar company in a similar stage come along very rarely and I felt it was one that couldn’t pass me by. In joining the Aritzia team, I intend to bring my creativity, innovation, and digital and retail knowledge to drive rapid growth across the business in our important established market of Canada as well as the US and Internationally.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
For me, the best part of my job is two-fold: 1. Working with my amazingly talented team and 2. Developing business-centric creative ideas which telling our story and showcase our commitment to quality through the experiences we provide – our exclusive brands, our stores, our website and personalized customer service. We cherish excellent design and honour it by paying the most acute attention to every detail of what we do.

Obviously, I’m quite digitally inclined and I think there’s a lot of room for digital innovation in order to be able to move quite quickly in communicating our brand pillars: our people, our product and our places. I think there are huge opportunities for us to be doing a lot of interesting digital marketing, whether that be through SEM, paid search, through collaborations with any of the big social platforms – our recent #FallForUs campaign is a perfect example of this. On a more traditional basis, it’s about continually focusing on the quality of our customer experience in our stores, and thinking about the strategic use of PR, events, sponsorships and alignments.

It’s incredibly exciting for me because the key elements supporting this storytelling are extremely high quality – which leads to authenticity. Our business has grown to one of the largest and most loved retailers in North America over the last 30 years thanks to the quality of our product, our stores and our customer service. All I need is to do is to celebrate this to our existing and new audiences, which makes my life a lot easier.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
At Aritzia, playing an extremely important role in one of the most exciting global fashion success stories.

What does success look like to you?
Happy, engaged customers who understand and celebrate the quality of what we offer.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
My role as the Founder of Wednesday – an ideas-led creative agency which delivers innovative strategic, creative and technological solutions to the fashion, luxury and consumer lifestyle industries from its offices in New York and London. At Wednesday I worked on creative business solutions for the likes of Balenciaga, Proenza Schouler, H&M, Tory Burch, Mr Porter, Chanel and J.Crew to name a few. It was an incredibly exciting journey with a group of unbelievably talented individuals who are still pioneering and growing today more than ever before.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
There are more tools than ever before to learn about industries, people, roles and opportunities. Use them! Don’t be afraid to take the initiative and experiment – you will learn more that you could in any MBA.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I personally support a number of charities and Aritzia also makes regular donations – primarily to Vancouver based organisations. Amongst these is Cause We Care, an incredible organisation that focuses on single mothers and their children in need.

What to you is notable?
The continued power of thinking like a human in a world which is increasingly digital.

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