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We are working with Hips & Curves in their search for a VP of Operations based in Los Angeles, CA. This is one of the coolest ecommerce jobs in L.A. Hips and Curves opened for business in 2000 and has been going strong ever since. The firm provides a secure, private and entertaining shopping experience while offering the latest and greatest in plus size lingerie styles.

Hips & Curves’ aim is to provide fabulous, sexy plus size lingerie that celebrates the beauty and sensuality of fuller figures. And because it focuses exclusively on plus sizes, its fantastic selection of lingerie provides just the right amount of support and enhancement.

Check out this video featuring plus-sized model Tara Lynn. Note the number of times this thing has been viewed — and read the viewer comments, too.

Where was I? Oh, yeah! …

The company seeks a VP of Operations to join it’s growing LA-based team. This critical position will be responsible for planning and directing the organization’s Operational functions as H&C positions itself for continued growth and expansion. The VP of Operations will work closely with the CEO and wear multiple hats while ensuring that all aspects of the company are managed effectively including: Operations and Production, Information Systems, Human Resources, Strategic Planning, and organizational goal setting.

The ideal candidate will have a solid track record of successfully growing small to mid-level online businesses. Additionally, an entrepreneurial spirit, a strong work ethic, and a relentless drive for growth are absolutely essential. Experience with ecommerce, IT/ERP systems and retail is a plus.

HARRY’S COMMENTS: When people talk about what made Zappos a world-class company, they never say it was better paid search. Or better email marketing. Or better SEO. It was nothing of the sort. What made Zappos awesome was a maniacal attention to detail around making the customer feel special. The Zappos customer experience made their customers want to tell 10 friends about it. Every single thing about their operating model supported the company’s USP of selling footwear as a service (FaaS!).

Before Zappos, who had ever heard of such a thing?

Every resource Zappos leveraged, everything Zappos did, and every person Zappos hired was organized around the satisfaction of 10 core values:

  1. Deliver WOW through service
  2. Embrace and drive change
  3. Create fun and a little weirdness
  4. Be adventurous, creative, and open-minded
  5. Pursue growth and learning
  6. Build open and honest relationships with communication
  7. Build a positive team and family spirit
  8. Do more with less
  9. Be passionate and determined
  10. Be humble

It’s one thing to say you’re about these things. It’s another thing to live the values. That’s the hard part.

Unlike most companies, where core values were just a plaque on the wall, Zappos’ core values played a huge part in how it hired, trained, and developed its employees. In fact, the company became so good at these things that it offered training to other companies who wanted to better understand how to leverage the Zappos way in their own business.

Such is the power of blocking and tackling.

Blocking and tackling doesn’t seem very sexy until you start making money with it. When I think of the hundreds of online retailers I’ve worked with in the last decade, the ones in which I would have happily invested my own money were the ones who …

  1. Knew what they stood for (and even what they stood against);
  2. Knew exactly who their customers were and what made them feel special; and
  3. Executed fanatically around a singular USP.

Hips & Curves is a phenomenal little company on the verge of breaking out. They’ve got the first two things right. And until now, they’ve even gotten the third thing right – but not in a scalable way. Tom Peters used to say “First be effective; Then be efficient.” Hips & Curves has been highly effective. Now they want to be more efficient.

Although I have H&C’s revenue and EBIT numbers, I’m not going to disclose them here. The company is growing like a weed by selling plus sized lingerie and empowering women to love themselves and realize their own unique beauty. Over 70% of what H&C sells is private label and some of their most successful styles are based on customer requests.

H&C culture runs on these customer interactions.

It’s the gas in the engine. Buying lingerie is a hugely emotional experience for curvy women, only a small percentage of whom are very confident in how they look. H&C is looking to change that. The reasons for the purchase vary: A woman could be buying it to look sexy again for her man. Or, she could be newly divorced and have a big date coming up. Or perhaps she has a bridal shower on her calendar. No matter. H&C exists to make a curvy woman’s assets look awesome.

Husbands and lovers call, too.

Sometimes men will ask how they can get their women to feel good about their bodies. These men love soft, feminine, Rubenesque women, and they can’t understand why their women don’t love their bodies as much as they do. Obviously, it can be very frustrating to go to the mall and see hot styles that end at a size 14. According to H&C’s management, every aspect of customer contact, whether by phone, email, or online chat is incredibly important. These customers will invariably return to the place where they have been proactively made to feel special.

This is an operations issue, not a marketing issue!

H&C’s new VP of Operations must understand how to put a process around empathy. What types of interactions matter most to customers? What are we doing right that we should do more of? What are we doing wrong that we should stop doing immediately? What is no one else in our category doing that somebody should start doing today? Once we have teased out those issues, what metrics will help us know whether we are getting these things right?

Historically, H&C has not managed its call center by the numbers. Frankly, that’s very “Zappos” of it? (Here’s a question: “WWZD?”) However, as call volumes increase, it’s essential that H&C’s have a bit more of a process by which to manage their activities.

Additionally, H&C’s new VP of Operations must bring an understanding of ecommerce industry best practices to the company’s logistics, fulfillment, human resources, information systems, production, forecasting and planning activities. The company is being run by two top-flight marketers, both of whom are being sucked into operations issues. Not good, especially given the size of the plus size market.

Hips & Curves sees a fantastic opportunity here.

The VP of Operations will work closely with the CEO and wear multiple hats while ensuring that all aspects of the company are managed effectively including: Operations and Production, Information Systems, Human Resources, Strategic Planning, and organizational goal setting. The ideal candidate has a track record of successfully growing small to mid-level online businesses. An entrepreneurial spirit, drive, hunger for growth and strong work ethic are absolutely essential. Experience with eCommerce, IT/ERP systems and retail is a plus.

In this role, you will …

  • Be responsible for the company’s daily operating activities
  • Work with CEO to establish strategic and company goals that will drive expansion
  • Monitor, assess and manage operational procedures
  • Oversee HR activities, such as hiring, terminations, job descriptions, promotions, bonus plans, salary administration, performance reviews, etc.
  • Assist in contracts, negotiations and legal issues
  • Build and develop a strong management team
  • Establish the performance goals, allocate resources, and assess policies
  • Manage and monitor IT operations, systems and software
  • Manage third party logistics company

H&C’s CEO seeks a left-brained counterpart, who is organized, metrics-driven, highly intelligent, gets excited by creating order and efficiency, and is extremely growth oriented. The VP of Ops must have excellent negotiating skills and a professional demeanor — even though H&C’s dress code is casual. They need to be able to wear a suit and tie to meet with a banker one day, and go to our warehouse in Texas and roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty the next. It’s all about getting it done.

I have no idea who Zappos first VP of Operations was, but that’s the kind of person Hips & Curves needs.

In October, the AP reported that “the average American woman is about 25 pounds heavier than she was in 1960. Yet women’s plus-size clothing, generally defined as size 14 and up, still makes up only about 9% of the $190 billion spent annually on clothes.

What’s wrong with this picture? It’s not that plus-size women aren’t into fashion. Rather, the fashion industry doesn’t seem interested in them.

The fashion industry has long spent more time, money and marketing on clothing for taut bodies than for curvier ones because it’s easier and more profitable to do so. But retail analysts say there’s something else at play: Stereotypes about larger women not wanting to dress fashionably keep companies from making clothes that are flattering to them. And in turn, that discourages them from spending more.”

When women (or the millions of men who love them) by lingerie, it’s an emotional thing. They want to be understood, and they want to be appreciated. They want a broad enough selection to help them self actualize, and they want that product delivered quickly and discreetly.

Certainly, there are much bigger companies in the lingerie category. But using skinny models, many of those companies make women feel awkward for even wanting to look good in lingerie. That’s not right.

The whole point of lingerie is to create fun and excitement, and to give people a prop to be self-confident, adventurous, creative, and open-minded. Hips & Curves’ marketing is effectively saying to its clients: “Here’s a community and a product assortment that allows YOU to be YOU!”

Now, it’s the new VP of Ops job to make sure that every resource H&C leverages, everything H&C does, and every person H&C hires is organized around the satisfaction of this USP.

If you thrive in a rapidly changing environment, enjoy creating order and structure, and want to work with fun and passionate people in a fast-growing industry in which you can help shape the direction of the company, please apply below.

Job Qualifications:

  • Successful candidate will have 10+ years of executive leadership experience preferably in ecommerce and/or retail
  • Must thrive in a rapidly changing, growing, creative environment, and love to create organization out of chaos
  • Must be able to move quickly and motivate others and gets things done
  • Exceptional business acumen; ability to be a strategic and tactical senior executive
  • Relationship-building skills required, as is the ability to coach and develop people
  • Analytical skills, the ability to structure and process qualitative or quantitative data, and draw insightful conclusions are a must
  • Must be a proactive communicator, problem solver, and goal-oriented leader
  • Must have the ability to prioritize and deliver results in a dynamic, fast paced environment
  • Must have the ability to create and maintain a culture where people want to perform and grow with the company

Applications for this position are being coordinated by Allan Seibert. To apply, CLICK HERECandidates, please be sure to email Allan for additional information that will differentiate you in your candidacy.

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