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With 250 retail stores and a huge online following, Boot Barn is everywhere, partly due to the determination, creativity, and work ethic of Creative Director Isha Nicole and Chief Merchandising Officer Laurie Grijalva.
Both women knew they wanted to work in an artistic field early on, Laurie being drawn to the business side and Isha to the creative. “I spent my entire education and life trying not to be an artist,” says Isha. “Once I embraced that my imagination is in fact my strongest tool, doors started opening.”
“I dreamed about working in the fashion industry,” says Laurie of her college days. “I would spend hours in the fabric stores shopping for fabrics and patterns.”
From dreaming about creative work to influencing a roaring Western business, the women have come a long way. They’re grateful to Boot Barn for several reasons, including the positive work environment.
With such a large industry presence, one might expect the company’s office to be all stress and urgent deadlines. Quite the opposite; Isha praises CEO Jim Conroy for his open leadership style, and notes that she incorporates his methods into her own team management. “I try to create structure for my team, but allow them to keep expanding to collectively push the brand,” she says.
The motivational work environment shines through in the company’s success. “I know that our success at Boot Barn is rare in the retail environment of today,” says Laurie. “I am very thankful, and I don’t take it lightly.”
And, Boot Barn’s still growing. Isha and friend Anna Smith started the brand Wonderwest, a curated collection under the Boot Barn umbrella to fill a void in the Western fashion industry. “This brand is basically the imaginative, quirky re-rendition of what Western-inspired fashion can look like.” Johnny Was, Free People, and Wrangler are just some of the many brands that have their products showcased in Wonderwest.
Isha’s and Laurie’s success has been hugely influenced by education. Isha’s college experience left her more confident, eager to learn, and willing to push herself. Hungry for more, Laurie recently returned to school and is on track to earn an M.B.A. in 2020.
Hard work, passion, creativity, and, in fact, failure propelled Isha and Laurie to where they are today. “Give yourself the chance to fail, because in the process you at least give yourself an opportunity to try something new and different,” says Isha.
“Be passionate about whatever you do,” adds Laurie.
The future looks bright for the Boot Barn pair, though they don’t yet have a clear picture of tomorrow. “I am not sure what the future holds for me,” says Isha, “but I know it’s not going to be boring.”