Stacey Renfro is currently the CEO of mDesign Home Décor, joining in August of 2020. Stacey Renfro is a seasoned retail executive with more than 25 years of progressive experience in E-commerce, marketing, planning and merchandising. She has led highly successful teams, implemented game-changing strategies, and managed complex growth initiatives. As CEO of mDesign, she is leading this digitally native brand through times of high growth as they continue to develop stylish home storage and furnishings solutions to help organize your life.
Stacey joined mDesign from The Vitamin Shoppe where she was the Executive Vice President, Chief Digital and Customer Experience Officer. In this role, she was responsible for digital, marketing, creative and the overall customer experience across all channels. While at The Vitamin Shoppe, she led the growth and transformation of the brand by focusing on quality, expertise, personalization and innovation.
Prior to The Vitamin Shoppe, Stacey held several leadership positions at Pier 1 Imports including EVP, Planning & Allocation as well as Senior Vice President of E-commerce. In 2013, Stacey joined Pier 1 Imports to re-launch the online business in a true omni-channel fashion. During her time, she led the growth of Pier1.com from $30M to over $450M in just five years. Stacey has held other key leadership roles in omni-channel, ecommerce and planning at JCPenney, HSN, OshKosh B’Gosh, Old Navy and Sears.
In 2017, Stacey was recognized as one of the top women in retail and in 2016 was recognized as one of the top ten women in retail technology. Stacey is active in the retail digital community serving as the Co-Chair for The National Retail Federation’s Digital Council, and also serves on the advisory board’s for both CNBC’s Technology Executive Council and Women in Retail Leadership Circle. Stacey has served on the Board of Directors for City House, a children’s organization with the primary mission to help at-risk children and young adults who have been abused, neglected or are homeless. Stacey received her Bachelor of Science degree from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.
Where did the idea for mDesign Home Décor come from?
The original idea for mDesign Global came from our founder Bob Immerman. Bob had traditionally sold products into retailers like Bed, Bath, and Beyond or Target. He became frustrated that he would develop a full line of great products only to have the retail store select a handful or even just one of them to sell in their stores. He realized that he really should go DTC and bring all of these great products directly to the customer by selling on Amazon’s Marketplace.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
There is no “typical” day at mDesign Global. I am currently just past a month in my role as CEO, so I am still spending many hours of my day learning from my team so that I can continue to refine our forward strategy and focus the organization on the smartest tactics to accomplish our goals. In addition, there are some days I need to be focused on the product, other days it needs to be all about marketing, and then others are spent focused on logistics and so on. These daily patterns vary based on the current demands of the mDesign business and where the team needs my support and leadership the most.
This variability does not always lead to optimum productivity, however to help as much as possible, I try to ensure that I only spend time on aspects of the business that align to either immediately impact our bottom line or align with one of our key strategic priorities. It is far too easy to get off track following the shiniest object in front of you, so using this tactic has been very beneficial for myself and the mDesign teams.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I am someone who likes to verbally share my ideas with the expert(s) that may know more about it. I don’t pretend to have the best idea on anything. Typically the best execution of an idea comes from iterations of an initial thought. I love the iteration process and involving others to make it a collaborative effort.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I have spent many years in retail and even more specifically digital retail. Though there has certainly been a focus in the industry on DTC and ecommerce, many were very reluctant to truly leap into fully integrated digital and physical customer journeys. Many companies patted themselves on the back for their omni-channel initiatives, yet they were just building ecommerce channels. The recent pandemic has exposed these gaps in the customer experience as well as accelerated the customer’s willingness to shop digitally. I am very excited as a consumer and student of the industry to see the innovation and re-invention that our industry will encounter in the coming year.
Also…I would be remiss not to mention that I am incredibly excited by the continued growth of the home category and the ongoing migration of the customer to shop online through marketplaces. Both of these trends are highly beneficial to mDesign Global’s major initiatives and will only propel our growth in the coming years..
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am someone that has worked my way up. I did not walk into an executive role right after university. In addition, I have worked with incredible leaders and companies that were highly focused on leadership and leadership development. As a result, I have been able to grow into my role as a CEO and learn how to lead at different levels along the way. I share this as I think what makes me effective is that I am able to trust and empower my team. Though at times I need to dive deep into the weeds, and other times function strategically, I typically ultimately empower the business owner to make the final decision and manage the execution.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Get comfortable with the uncomfortable. As soon as I got to the place in my career that I realized the uncomfortable moments were the times that led to the most personal growth, I began to not only embrace but seek out challenging situations for myself.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Caffeine doesn’t really keep you up at night. It’s at least true for me…it has zero effect on my ability to sleep.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Repeat yourself…especially when it comes to the important things. There are many studies on this particular topic that vary in conclusion. They say that you have to repeat something anywhere from 3-20 times before people truly take it in and remember it. I have found that just when you are growing tired of repeating the same message over and over, that is the moment it becomes clear and memorable to the organization. Employees, no matter what company they work for, want to be informed and seek clear and understandable company priorities, so that they can better and more effectively do their jobs. Help those around you by over-communicating…Repeat yourself.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
In my career, I have grown a number of businesses and I have turned multiple businesses around. The one strategy that is consistent is collaboration. There is no strategy that can be developed or executed in a silo. Being able to partner cross functionally to ensure flawless execution across the board is hands down the key to success. A strategy alone is nothing more than a strategy.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I encounter failures every single day regardless of my role within an organization…too many failures to point to only one. I was raised by parents who never focused on the past and instilled in me and my siblings the importance of learning from failure and moving on. That said, I don’t beat myself up. I make the best decision possible with the information that I have at the time. If I fail, then I fix it or abandon the current map and go back to the drawing board. I simply don’t look back or have regrets. No matter the outcome, I know the intent was good.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Maybe a tip is that just as the pandemic is accelerating retail migration to digital marketplaces, I believe that the educational system is being seriously disrupted and deserves to be questioned. I believe we have a significant opportunity to optimize and make better the solutions or services targeted at evolving and improving what and how today’s youth learn.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Using the service Taskrabbit to move around some furniture in my house and assemble a storage cabinet to hold our pool towels. This is the best service ever and saves my husband and I many healthy debates…not to mention time.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Microsoft Teams…nothing too sophisticated. So much of my day is spent in meetings and working with and through people. Especially given the onslaught of COVID-19 and the rise of the times of working in hybrid office and remote environments the ease of communicating via phone, chat and video is critical.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Probably not a new find for this group, but if you haven’t read Creativity Inc., give it a try. It is the story of the building of Pixar. This book is great for this community as it leans in on everything from the creative process, to dealing with failure to building teams. It will remain one of my all-time favorites.
What is your favorite quote?
It references back to my earlier advice on being uncomfortable…
There are so many quotes that say the same thing in many different ways. I will therefore share it the way that I have heard it is said among Navy Seals:
“Get comfortable being uncomfortable. If you can be comfortable being uncomfortable, you’ll be prepared to handle whatever situation comes along in your life.
- Get comfortable being uncomfortable. From the uncomfortable, you will most certainly experience growth.
- Learn from your failures, then move on and keep moving forward.
- Repeat yourself, especially when it comes to the important things.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.