Women in Print and Promo: Jeanene Edwards, Fruit of the Loom and JERZEES Activewear
How she got her start: It was not your typical path, as I started out in journalism and knew my heart just wasn’t in it. I fell into marketing for a national retailer, which was a lot more fun. I then worked for Hanesbrands, supporting retailers such as Walmart and Target. Then, Fruit of the Loom offered me an opportunity to handle marketing and merchandising for its blank apparel business for the printwear channel.
What she loves most about the industry: It’s really the people I enjoy most because this industry serves such a wide range of customers from the mom-and-pop screen printer to promotional products distributors. I enjoy going to industry trade shows to talk with our customers and build relationships over the years. There’s also significant innovation and creativity underway in our channel, especially the emerging technology in apparel decoration.
An average day: It’s difficult to describe a typical day at the office. I have a wide range of activities from normal run-of-business tasks like reviewing new marketing concepts and product ideas, to going on-site with screen printers for product testing to holding training sessions about our brands and products with distributors’ customer service staff. I enjoy all of it.
Her proudest career achievements: While working for Hanes, I became intrigued with the idea of recycled fibers that were then only being used in carpets and some higher-priced polar fleece. I thought this would work in our traditional fleece line of sweats somehow. I worked with our supply chain to figure out how to integrate recycled poly into the current fabric and created the concept of Hanes Ecosmart Fleece. This brought an eco-friendly, yet value-priced, line of sweats to the market, savings millions of water bottles from landfills. I’m still proud to say I was part of the team who made this come to life.
On working in a traditionally male-dominated industry: Recently, I’m happy to say I have more of an issue with being short (I’m 5'2") than being a woman. Seriously, have you ever tried networking at a trade show or event where everyone is standing up? Everyone talks above my head … literally. Seriously though, we’ve come a long way. I’m happy to say that the younger generations of women that I work with are more than capable of making more progress toward equality. And men’s attitudes have changed, as well. Many of them have daughters, and they want the same opportunities for them as their sons receive.
Her job advice to women: Print and promotional products are great career paths for women, as this industry relies on relationship-building, and women have a natural affinity for that. That said, you still have to do your homework and invest time in learning about your industry, your competition, your products and how your customers use them. Use those facts and figures so you can position yourself as competent and effective. Market or sell using facts rather than opinion. You’ll quickly earn the respect you deserve.
Who she turns to for career advice: With social media, career advice is more accessible for any variety of issues and situations. LinkedIn is actually a great source of career advice “tidbits” that are delivered in a quick and easily digestible format. There are also some great blogs like The Muse and Corporette that I’d recommend—both tailored for women.
When she’s off the clock: I’d like to startle everyone by saying I have some exotic hobby like skydiving or raising exotic snakes. But no—outside of work I’m like many other people who spend time with family, friends and my rescue dog Roxy.
(The following profile appeared in Print+Promo’s “These Women Mean Business” cover story in the May 2017 issue.)