Power Talk Friday: Inspired Leadership at Pollack Creates Exceptional Company Culture

Episode 373 of A Well-Designed Business®

Welcome to Power Talk Friday! We are very happy to introduce you to two very interesting women today. We have Susan Whalen, the president of Pollack, and Rachel Doriss, Pollack’s design director, with us on the show. These women have both been in the design industry for decades and on the show today they talk to us about the types of opportunities that are available in the industry, other than doing interior design. They also talk about the leadership at Pollack and their company culture of encouraging creativity, loyalty, and longevity in their entire team. Listen in today to find out what it takes to create and lead a really exceptional business.

Susan earned a BA from The University of Arizona in 1996. She was appointed as president of Pollack/Weitzner in 2017 due to her forward-thinking vision. She began her career at Polack in 1999 as studio manager, working alongside the founding creative director, Mark Pollack. There she learned every aspect of design and product development for contract and residential textiles. In 2004 she shifted to the business side to work under Rick Sullivan, the founding president. Then, in 2006, she was appointed as vice president and chief operating officer. In the position of COO, Susan took the led role in Pollack’s merger with Weitzner in 2011. She is currently spearheading the implementation of a new operating system and the development of improved digital platforms to support the future growth and adaptability of Pollack/Weitzner. Susan now resides in Brooklyn, NY. In her free time, she enjoys traveling internationally and renovating her weekend home in rural Pennsylvania.

Rachel has textile design in her DNA. She studied printmaking and painting and even taught batik workshops when she first entered college. But it was in the Textile Design department at the Rhode Island School of Design that she realized, for the first time, the practical application of her beloved woven and printed textile techniques. She graduated with a BFA from RISD in 1999 and designed printed silk scarves at Echo before joining the Pollack Studio in 2000. In 2007, Rachel was appointed Vice President, Associate Design Director. She took the helm as Pollack’s Design Director in 2012, overseeing the Studio and guiding the creative vision for each textile collection. In the Studio, she and her team always begin a pattern by first creating artwork by hand. Rachel’s designs for Pollack have been featured in national magazines, including Architectural Digest, Interior Design and Elle Décor, and she has been profiled on such sites as Apartment Therapy and House and Home TV. Two of her creations, “Mod” and “Curlycue,” are in the permanent collection of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. Join us today and get the inspiration do things in your firm to make it the kind of place people really want to be engaged with!

Show highlights:

  • Other kinds of career opportunities within the design industry.
  • What really goes into textile manufacture.
  • What it takes to become a textile designer.
  • You get involved in the textile industry for the love of what you do, not for the money!
  • The partnership between Pollack and Lori Weitzner.
  • How having a collaboration, or a licensed collection works.
  • Working with Gary Graham, a New York-based fashion designer.
  • The need for inspiration when creating a collection.
  • A quick run through the development of a fabric.
  • The whole chain of love and pain that goes into the design and development of a beautiful fabric.
  • About the really terrific “Pollack culture”.
  • Some great tips for cultivating a really successful team.
  • Inspiring employees towards longevity with longer vacations.
  • Really creative “First Fridays” at Pollack.
  • An “Ugly Sweater” contest at the office!
  • Supporting employees through difficult times.
  • Pollack has their product in showrooms in most of the major territories.
  • Pollack has worldwide distribution- in Asia, the UK, and France.

Links:

Website: Pollack Associates

Instagram: @pollacktextiles

Facebook:  Pollack Textiles

Previous episodes mentioned on this show:

Lori Weitzner #308

Eileen Hahn # 363

Janelle Photopoulos # 364

Candace Olsen #74

Amber Lewis #184

Shea McGee #236 and 270 with Syd

Corey Damen Jenkins #127

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