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Leaders in Creative Operations: Michael Kors

Posted by Krissie Harrigan on March 18, 2016
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Leaders In Creative Operations is a new series of interviews and profiles of Creative Operations executives from the biggest companies in the world. Get the best insights, expertise, and advice in this exciting and quickly growing industry. 


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Company: Michael Kors

Name: Clair Carter-Ginn

Title: VP Creative Operations + Studio

Clair is a multidisciplinary fashion and retail marketer who brings a strong combination of creative vision, strategic thinking and content development expertise to her job and clients. She works closely with her clients to understand their brands, business goals, consumers and long-term aspirations in pursuit of creative and content strategies that engage and emotionally connect to shoppers.

She has a unique background both in-house at major retailers and on the agency side and prides herself on being both right and left-brained. Clair currently oversees the Creative Agency and Photo Studio Operations, where (among other things) she is implementing a new global workflow approach and technology that ensure scalability, balances workload, and optimizes Agency capabilities.

Clair is passionate about art, style and words and believes that black is always the new black.


Clair: "Michael Kors has grown about 300% in the last two years - both in revenue and headcount.

We have an in-house agency with 80 members internally. We create all of the assets for the company, ranging from a  national advertising campaign with Mario Testino all the way down to a point of purchase signage or a hang tag. All of that is created by this team in-house.

The amount of content we're developing is ridiculous.

As the agency grew the VP of Creative - who is an amazing Creative Director with a great aesthetic - was running Creative Operations for lack of anybody else to oversee it. As we got deeper into the analysis of our needs, we realized that we really needed somebody to oversee Creative Operations. There were challenges - the team's working late hours and we’re taking on too much work. We haven't been able to really monitor the bandwidth of the agency and be able to say ‘okay you guys, we're maxing out. We've taken on too much."


Clair: "There are many Creative Directors who have the ability to be a little bit left brained or right brained - that's actually something that I really value about myself. But at the end of the day the Creative Director should be focusing on building the brand and the brand vision, and continuing to elevate the brand.

If they also need to spend a lot of time handling operations and worrying about budget, then at some point - something needs to give."

Biggest challenges in Creative Operations

Clair: "I think somebody somewhere in the technology sector has got to realize that creative teams desperately want a tool that can do a lot more than just project management or just design. We want something that will be the conveyor belt that takes us through the entire creative process. That is ideally what I would have loved to have found. It just doesn't exist out there right now to my knowledge."

Creative Operations technology

Clair: "When I came on board the project management team was using something that was a nice tool, but really didn’t work for creative workflow. It was great when we had 12 people on the team, not 80, and not when we have 50 global offices that we work with.

I had a very difficult time finding a creative workflow platform that would meet our needs from an internal standpoint and be able to coexist with our existing technology.

I would love to have is an end to end solution that takes me from project kickoff all the way out to asset share so to speak. I have not found that. "

Creative Operations metrics

Clair: "That’s one of the key elements that we're missing and want to improve. Right now, all we know is:  did we finish it on time? Did we finish under budget or within budget? How did it perform at the end of the day?

We are actually looking at measurement tools currently. The creative workflow system that we're putting in now actually has analytics at the backend. That is something that we're really trying to figure out how to measure.

We really want to create a measurement system that allows us to capture data so that we can then go to our internal partners and say, "This is how many hours our team can work in a week. Here are the hours associated with the projects we have coming in. Prioritize"

If you're looking at the dessert cart and you can only pick out one dessert, then you're going to pick out the one you really want. "

Creative operations getting started advice

Clair: "I don't come from an operations background. I come from a creative background. I have been on the account side and the creative side so I am able to use both my left brain and right brain. I think that that helps immensely because I can bring new ideas in terms of strategy, but at the end of the day I also understand how much money we really have to spend.

I started out as a copywriter so let me tell you, my brain was not about process when I started in this industry. After being in a number of retailers and agencies I have really seen the benefits of  process.

Look at your process first before you start purchasing technology or looking at vendors. Look at your process. Look at the way your team is structured and determine if this is a structure that can scale and work as you grow."

**Clair recently spoke at the Creative Operations Summit in New York. You can catch her session notes and session audio at the Creative Operations Hub. 


Topics: Creative Operations,  Creative Operations Management, Creative Operations Leaders

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