Saks Fifth Avenue Area Marketing Director Jeri Zink tells SEEN how she got started in the fashion industry, what’s’s on her must-have list for spring 2019 and exciting events coming up at Saks. Join Jeri and SEEN at Saks Fifth Avenue in Troy on April 3 for the Celebration of Spring Style event!
By Rachel Schostak
1. Tell us about your professional: I started my career in restaurant operations in Detroit and Chicago. I think it just really laid the best foundation for me, because you oversee an overall business operation. I have done everything from run a sauté station in a busy kitchen on a Saturday night to selling and executing a thousand-person event. I also believe that restaurants breed some of the hardest-working, most adaptable people. As an operator, you have your hands in everything from food and beverage cost to marketing, while working long and physically exhausting hours. It really taught me to think on the fly and to make things happen by jumping in wherever I am needed. When I moved to Chicago I realized my passion was events and marketing, and the rest is history. I have worked with brands like Darden, IHG Hotels, Rockit Ranch Productions and Punch Bowl Social with teams all over the country before coming to Saks Fifth Avenue.
2. How has your hospitality and events expertise helped your current role with Saks? There are so many aspects of my career that have translated into my current role. I definitely plan a high volume of events now, so it’s great to be a seasoned event planner, but I think in a leadership position your main focus is always your people and how you can help them. My background has given me the opportunity to work with a lot of great leaders in the hospitality industry that served as great examples and prepared me to be where I am today in a senior leadership position.
3. How did you get into the fashion industry? I had actually just taken a corporate sales and marketing position with a company I had previously worked for and was traveling the country with them when someone from Saks reached out to me. I always said the one thing that would make me leave hospitality was fashion. During the interview process I had an instant connection my boss Ina. After I left her office, I knew that if the opportunity was offered, I could not turn down working with her and such an iconic brand.
4. What does a typical day look like for you? Every day is different, I cover three markets: Troy here in Metro Detroit, Beachwood, Ohio and Cincinnati, Ohio, so I could be working on projects for any one of them. In my role I get to work very closely with the New York City marketing team and with a lot of different fashion brands. A big piece of our marketing strategy is events. Some of my favorite events have been with brands like Chanel, Valentino and Dior. I also handle all local marketing strategies for my region and get to plan experiences for our clients. This year I got to help coordinate experiences for New York and Paris Fashion week which was unreal!
5. What do you enjoy most about your job? The people. I am surrounded everyday locally and corporately by people who have been with Saks Fifth Avenue for 10, 20, 30, even 40 years. I think that really speaks to the brand and how invested they are in their people to create that kind of loyalty.
6. Who inspires you in the business world? Gary Vaynerchuk. Even though his rhetoric at times is very aggressive, he is one of the most logical people I have ever heard speak, not to mention one of the greatest marketing minds there is. He preaches kindness, integrity, gratitude and self-awareness as the key tools of success, and I couldn’t agree more.
The other person is my dad. He really taught me true hustle and hard work. He is inspiring because he just loves the process of being an entrepreneur and to see him execute his ideas has really motivated me and molded me throughout my life.
Now on to style…
7. Three words to describe your personal style? Modern, relaxed, versatile.
8. A spring trend you will be spotted in? Definitely neon. I was just in Miami and wore a neon piece almost every day.
9. What is on your must-have list for spring 2019 from Saks? All things neon! Here are some of my favorites:
10. Your go-to brands? Levi’s, Yves Saint Laurent and Alice + Olivia.
11. Who inspires your style? My style is often two extremes. I grew up playing basketball, fishing and going to football games but also watching fashion shows and begging my mom to buy me a Vogue magazine. I think you see that in my style today. I love menswear like an awesome suit, great leather and vintage jeans. But I also love throwing on a dress, and my favorite color is pink. I have always admired Olivia Palermo because I think she does a great job of mixing menswear and feminine pieces. She even wore pants to her wedding and looked so chic.
12. One item you can’t leave home without? Sunglasses. I love my YSL New Waves.
13. You’re never fully dressed without___? A great leather jacket and a smile. 🙂
14. Currently on your music playlist? I’m all over the map. I get fixated on a few songs — usually older ones — and just listen to them on repeat. Right now, my rotation is… 1. Jay-Z “On to the Next One” 2. Robyn “Dancing on my Own” 3. Garth Brooks “The Dance” 4. Drake “Nice for What” 5. Counting Crows “Mr. Jones.”
15. Currently your favorite Insta follows? @ariellecharnas, she seems very genuine and her daughters are adorable. @iconaccidental because her content shows fashion and style have no age. @whilewewereyoungnyc, this is my favorite NYC spot, and they do an incredible job with their Instagram feed. And of course @saks! My handle is @jerizink, and I’m always posting local Saks events happening in Metro Detroit.
Your Local Love list…
16. What do you love most about Detroit and the Metro Detroit community? I have lived in Metro Detroit/Downtown Detroit on and off for most of my adult life. The only other place I have lived is Chicago. I think “Detroit Hustles Harder” is a real thing. I love all the hard work that goes on in this community. There is also just something cool and edgy about Detroit and the people here.
17. When not working, where we can find you? I travel a ton in my free time, but if I’m home on days off you can find me at one of the dog parks downtown with my Frenchie Jim or drinking an Old Fashioned at a downtown spot. I’m also a huge sports fan so I’m always catching games.
18. Your current go-to for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Breakfast/Lunch – Rochester Brunch House. Dinner – Wright & Co. has been my long-standing favorite downtown. Cocktails – Evening Bar at the Shinola Hotel. I am also a regular at Eatori Market in Capital Park. I love that you can grab a craft cocktail and pick up your essentials for home.
19. We are excited to co-host our Spring Style Soiree with you at Saks on April 3. Any other special events we should know about coming up? Yes, we always have so many events going on! Some to highlight are:
April 4: Repossi Jewelry Trunk Show
April 9-10: Carolina Herrera Trunk Show
April 17: Akris Trunk Show
April 25: Fur Salon Restyle Event
April 30: Impact100 Fashion Show
We are also working on an exciting event in June with Femology! If anyone is interested in more information regarding events at Saks Fifth Avenue in Troy, you can email me at email@example.com.
20. Favorite quote or words to live by? “If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room.”
Join Jeri Zink, along with hosts Rachel Schostak, Cassie Kunze and Ashley Robinson, April 3 from 6-9 p.m., for the Celebration of Spring Style event at Saks Fifth Avenue at The Somerset Collection. Enjoy cocktails, light bites, music and style tips. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Space is limited.