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First Generation Mexican-American CEO Sandra Campos’ Journey to Success!

Join BT for Season 2 as he chats with female executives the mattress/furniture space and other underrepresented industries!

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Season 2 of “Just Stories with BT” features all Female Executive guests in the mattress/furniture space or other underrepresented industries!

These episodes focus on getting to know the amazing woman behind these roles and giving a platform to talk about getting our male dominated industries more balanced out!

Episode #19 is an incredible show where Sandra talks us through her remarkable journey.  She talks us through starting out working in her family’s Tortilla company, to moving to NYC working three jobs, to her 6 year Selena Gomez project, becoming a fashion brands CEO and then taking the leap into creating Fashion Launchpad and becoming the CEO of Project Verte.  Sandra gets very transparent as she talks through challenges of becoming a single mother with 3 children and working in the corporate world and also what her true meaning of success is!  Don’t miss this episode and all the nuggets of wisdom she drops.

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Full Transcription:

Brett Thornton:

Hello, and welcome back to another episode of just stories with BT podcasts. I’m extremely excited today to welcomeSandra Campos:, the CEO of Project Verte, and launch and the founder of fashion Launchpad. So welcome to the show.

Sandra Campos:

Thank you so much,Brett. You’re amazing, And I love what you’re doing. So, thanks for doing it for everyone.

Brett Thornton:

Yes, I appreciate that. So, this is exciting, because I love shows where I don’t know the people, at all. So, we just met like, what, seven minutes ago or something like that, So.

Sandra Campos:

I’ve got a drop down on the sofa chatting.

Brett Thornton:

Exactly, and I like it. Because you know, as you’re telling stories, it’ll all be new to me. So, I’ll be learning about you. And I love reading your background. And I’ve been following you on LinkedIn for a long time. And so, I’m excited to talk and share. And at the end of the day, one of the things I always do on the show, is I like to introduce you for the audience, right. So that way it takes the pressure off, you don’t have to talk about yourself. And so, I will do that now. And then afterwards, tell me where I went wrong or what I got right, sounds good?

Sandra Campos:

 Great.

Brett Thornton:

 Awesome. So, as I said, this isSandra Campos:, and I’m going to introduce you in about 30 to 45 seconds. That’s my goal. So, here we go okay, so she was born in Hollywood, first generation Mexican American. Her parents were immigrants, they moved to LA, but she grew up in El Paso as a kid and then as she got older, moved to Grand Prairie, Texas, she was into a lot of musical instruments played the French horn, which is really cool. She was in a cheerleading; she collected all kinds of different magazines and pictures of athletes and then one thing, that you said, I love is that used to arrange your furniture, and your drapes or whatever was on trend, which is funny because I think that’s probably the last thing I would have ever done in my life. Your first job was at a waterpark, and I love this story, which is you and your friends got the job, and you drew sticks for who would do what job and your friends got to work in the ice cream shop and meanwhile, you had to work in the sanitization department, and you said that stuck with us. So, I’m going to ask you about that in a minute. During high school, you were in cheerleading, you were in all kinds of different groups, that led you into going to college at Texas Tech University where you were a cheerleader, your sorority VP of the pledge, you participated in a sorority, Miss Texas beauty pageant. Well talk about that, after school, you moved to NYC, where it was tough sledding. The beginning, you had worked three jobs to make it work. We’ll come back to that, but it led you into a really amazing career and I liked how you explained it that it was like one of these, right? “It wasn’t just I got a job and work my way up the ladder”. You were at Polo, Nautica, Oscar de la Renta, you had a business with Selena Gomez for a while, all these different stages and that ended up you know, a couple of years ago with you launching fashion Launchpad and then becoming the CEO project for which is awesome, along the way. You had three beautiful kids. You have two rescue dogs, a rescue cat eight rescue horses, which we got to talk about. And then here you are, you made it through the pandemic, I know you said, you’ve been living out your farmhouse where the horses are during the pandemic, which is cool and then here we are on the just storage and BT podcast.

Sandra Campos:

Well done in 30, 45 seconds. 

Brett Thornton:

So, what did I miss? Like what was the Wow, I didn’t get?

Sandra Campos:

Let’s see, my three kids were pretty major. So, you got that? Right, I would put them at the top of the list. No, I mean, listen, what you said and how you described it is really, you know, of course that has taken many years and several decades of being in the retail industry. And it was something you talked about the drapes and changing the furniture, it just was something that I always knew, I really liked. I like to go to fabric stores and find and look at magazines and find what was what I thought was on trend, you know, in Texas at the time for the amount of knowledge that I had, and my mother thankfully, just let me make changes. So, I was slipped covering sofas, pillows, changing the curtains, putting bows on things, because that was what was important back then. But yeah, so you know, just was an industry that, I always knew, I wanted to get into. And, you know, I on the one hand, I’m fortunate that I knew what I wanted to do and I moved to New York City, when I was 20 years old and started doing it on the other hand, you know it’s, I always try to recommend to my kids and other younger generations that you know, try various things because there’s a lot that you can learn in it, you know, and that really does go across industries. You know, one of the things I think you may have missed there just that is and has been pivot on instrumental for me was when I was growing up, my parents had a tortilla factory, and we would spend nights weekends, days after school whenever they needed, whatever we needed it, they needed extra help to hit deadlines, etc. We would spend time at the tortilla factory, and I was on every part of the different line. You know whether it was the production in terms of the dough or packing the tortillas and I like to tell the story about the packing of the tortillas because, I really remember and I had pictures where I would eat one and a pack one and eat one pack. One, it was kind of like that well, Lucille Ball show where they were eating the chocolate balls, as they were coming on the conveyor, it was pretty much like that and I still to this day, pretty much eat a tortilla a day. So but with that experience, you know, I worked in the back and when the trucks would come and the packing the boxes and in the warehouse, and so I didn’t understand, until much, later exactly what was really ingrained in me and what I took from that experience of seeing my entrepreneurial parents, what they had to do to really get their business off the ground, and to make sure that they were hitting all their deliveries for their clients. So, you know, now fast forward, I’m in the world of logistics and supply chain and I go back to that remembering those experiences.

Brett Thornton:

Now, that’s awesome. I love that. You know, there’s, it was funny, I was actually having two different conversations yesterday with some people on my team at Ocado because, you know, when you oversee retail, a lot of times, you know retail, it falls in different people’s career path. You know, sometimes they’re just out of college, sometimes they love retail, sometimes it’s a pathway to something else. And we were talking about, I have a few people on my team that are very talented went to school for design or for art, or these different things, and they love what they’re doing. But we were having a conversation around, hey, how can we get you more experience of blossoming these other things, because, I want them to do more than just what they’re doing day to day, you know, and I think you’re so right, because I speak well, pre pandemic, I would always go back and speak at San Diego State where I went to school every year. And the kids would always ask, you know, they like they always do, right, like, what’s the best career advice or whatever. And I always say, you know, at the end of the day, my recommendation is if you can work for a small startup or an entrepreneurial company out of the gates do it, because what will happen is you’ll have to do about 1000 different things. So, when you work with a small company, you wear all these hats. So just like you know, when you’re at the tortilla factory, you’re doing all these different things. And you don’t realize probably as a kid like, well, I’m learning about this. And this is I’m, just eating chips and packing or whatever. But at the end of the day, when you work with a smaller company, that’s the experience you get, just like you said, you went your path was all over and you pick up these things everywhere And I had that opportunity in my career at one of the stops I had, where I had to do a ton of things. And I look back now going man, that was the best three years of my career because I learned so much even though at the time I was like, what am I doing, you know, but.

Sandra Campos:

It’s so true, and I agree with you on that front. I also think, kids who grew up with entrepreneurial parents, you know, are learning through osmosis and being able to kind of take in and be a part of. My  kids were certainly because ,I was a single parent for them for 16 years and when they were little, they would listen to conversations, I was having with Selena’s agents, or they would come and be on the trailer when we were filming the first commercial and other things that they’ve heard, they’ve seen and heard negotiations and it really is kind of amazing because, my 19 year old son who’s now going to be going to college in LA at Loyola Marymount, he knows so much about PNLs and financial reporting that I never knew at that age. 

Brett Thornton:

Yeah. 

Sandra Campos:

And I said to him as a hash, you know, that? He said “Well, I have been around you”.

Brett Thornton:

Yeah. That is awesome. So, tell me back to the intro. You know, how was it? Obviously, like you said, you know, first generation Mexican American, you were born here. Your parents, how long had your parents been here before they had you?

Sandra Campos:

Only a handful of years, I have an older sister who actually lives in San Diego and she’s a judge there but, they had my older sister and then three years later, they had me. So, it was not very long at all my parents, you know, kind of did, I would say standard thing back then, which was get married very young. My mom was 18 and my dad was 19 and then, they started having kids right away. So, it was very soon and you know, the whole immigrant piece of it, which you know, I think the older you get, and the more experiences you have and now of course, that we’re so much more awake as a country about what’s happening with these different generational movements and social causes, that now, I look back and I can truly understand the challenges that my parents had in finding work and you know, trying to learn the language and overcoming certain obstacles that, we’re facing then and you know, just through the years what it took to actually become a citizen and bringing your family over and one of the things that for sure, as a Latina, and I’m sure other cultures as well, but you know you’re there for your family. So, we had several times when even learning the tortilla business, my family moved in with my father’s uncle’s family and they had 10 kids and we were there while he was learning the tortilla business and then when we went and my father had tortilla business, my father’s sister’s family came and they lived with us and while he was learning the tortilla business, so kind of like, you know, it’s one of those things that you do for family too, is obviously in the case of the immigrants that we that we were surrounded with in our own family. It was really just learning how to become an entrepreneur or learning how to make a life and a business and creating that next generational. You know that wealth and future.

Brett Thornton:

Yeah, well, it’s definitely impressive. Is it just you and your sister? Do you have other siblings? 

Sandra Campos:

No, we’re, I’m one of six. I’m the second one. Well, yeah, quite a few of us. 

Brett Thornton:

Oh, man, that’s awesome. So, tell me, I did want to dive into one of the things that I mentioned there, too on the thing, but you mentioned all these rescue animals. So, the dogs, the cat that horses like, how did you get into rescuing animals?

Sandra Campos:

Well, to be honest with you, I grew up around animals. So, my grandfather had a ranch in Mexico. And my mother had recently sent me a photo, I was two years old on the donkey, I, you know, it was something that I remember very vividly being around that ranch and all the animals that were there, but I didn’t grow up really loving dogs, or domestic animals, that wasn’t something that I was really a part of. And in fact, I kind of avoided that for a long time, until I met the partner that I’m with now, who has always had multiple cats, multiple dogs, etc. And then it just became like, my, I think when my kids started becoming teenagers, and they needed me less, and wanted me around less, that I started gravitating towards animals that that would love me no matter what. And needed me no matter what. So, on the horse front, I always was riding horses’ kind of growing up in Texas, but also to some vacations and things of that sort And I tried to always do that every year with my kids and then, I knew, that I wanted to have a horse farm but when I found the property that I bought, there were actually rescue horses on it. And all of a sudden, I started investigating and learning more about those rescues and the 80,000 horses every year sent to slaughter, and 90% of them are completely fine and have no reason you know, they’re not ill in any way. They have no reason to be slaughtered. So, when I started seeing all that, I was like, why would I have a horse farm if I can just rescue horses? So that’s kind of how it happened. And for the last two and a half years, we’ve been rescuing horses, and it’s not a ton because we have eight, right now. But you know, it’s like, every little bit helps. And it’s helping horses from all different types of situations.

Brett Thornton:

That is awesome. I love that. And I love how you said at the end about you know, it’s not a lot, but it’s a because to those eight is a lot. You know.

Sandra Campos:

To that your yes did okay, that’s a lot.

Brett Thornton:

Yes. I always tell people, I had one of the, I think my largest life lessons like just lightbulb moments, you know, was when I was young, we, my friends and I made a documentary film on Burma. So, there was a genocide going on inside of my Mar, on this one group called the Korean. So, it’s a long story, I won’t get into, but we shot this film, we ran around the jungle for six weeks. And we filmed this really cool documentary, they end up getting shown all over the world but when we were trying to like raise up some awareness, we went to DC for this big conference before the film came out. And we were talking to all these different groups and stuff about the film, and they were there. Everyone was there for these different causes, you know, and most of the causes were stuff in the United States and so I kept getting back this same thing time and time again, which is, people would say like, why are you helping these Korean people halfway around the world, like, we’ve got problems here. We got this, we got that, we all these things and people keep saying that, like it’s just too far away. Or it’s too this, one of this and I, at first, it really bothered me and then I got some advice to ask this one question and I’ve done it now the rest of my life, which is, I would look back and be like, you know what? Yeah, you’re right. There’s a lot of stuff going on here. Tell me what is it you’re doing here? What are you doing here to help whatever, right? And what I found is that no one that ever asked me that ever had a reason ever, I could say something back like oh, I’m doing this and helping homeless or whatever. They just wanted to like, not be involved, or complain or whatever and deflect. But at the end of the day, what I learned was just do something. Right, like, whatever it is, like if you’re doing something, you know, positive, like great, do it if that’s what you like, and that’s, like, do it because there’s too many people who like to talk but they don’t do any and that’s what I love about you know, like, hey, it’s eight horses. Someone might say, well, there’s 80,000 being killed a year. Well, 

Sandra Campos:

Yeah.

Brett Thornton:

Still eight. Right?

Sandra Campos:

Well, and yes, and so fast forward. I hope to be able to do something more with those eight because horses there’s a lot of equine therapy and that goes into veterans. It goes in for anxiety. There’s a lot of people who actually really need that type of therapy and that comfort from the equine. So, there’s things that I hope, that we can do with these as well that help humans also.

Brett Thornton:

Yes, that would be amazing. So, tell me before we get into the actual asking you stories, which is, I guess the whole point of podcasts, I do want to know, give us the, you know, there’s going to be people that don’t know you, right, especially in my audience and new audience for probably a lot of people. So, tell us, give us the 10,000 foot view on fashion launch pad and project for just a word like, up to speed.

Sandra Campos:

So, first of all, I’m a three-time CEO, two-time founder, I’ve been in the retail industry now for 30 years. So that’s kind of high level, my career. So a little bit I have, I’ve had corporate experience entrepreneurial experience, I have gone from, you know, making $17,000 a year to on moving my way up to a CEO level. I’ve done a lot of different roles. I also kind of came into the industry at a time where you, there were training programs, and you could actually move from one role to the next role to the next role and I’ve traveled all over the country throughout my career because there used to be a lot more retailers and I traveled everywhere from a Dinah, Minnesota to Louisville, Kentucky, to Chattanooga, Tennessee, you name it, because that was what we did back then and that experience and everything that I was learning throughout the course of even being an entrepreneur and being a customer service customer, you, your point of wearing a lot of hats. As an entrepreneur, I was customer service, I was PR, I was dropping off press kits, I was, you know, head of marketing, head of everything, production, etc,you learn so much and so with all of those different lessons and what experiences I’ve had, I had kind of moved through retail being CEO and president of brands for the last 12 15 years of my career but the last 12 years of those, I was really focused on digital transformation and that’s really because when I started a company with my business partner, Tony Malolo, he and I created a celebrity brand management company and we had approached creative artists Agency CAA about Selena Gomez, and they said,” Great, what do you want to do”, we presented this business plan and fast forward Six years later, we had a business with her for six years, that was exclusively for private those years at Kmart. and we had 14 different categories. We had six different countries that we had the product in, and it was at a time, when e commerce was really just starting, it was 2009. After the 2008 crash, there was not a lot of emphasis on social media other than Facebook at the time. So, you know nothing else existed but during those five or six years, everything started changing and we had the first shop and shop we had on kmart.com. So we were starting to look at e commerce and analytics around it. We were starting to see social media and nobody’s better than saline at being authentic and engaging with her audience and so, much was transitioning, but my focus was like how do I take legacy businesses and bring them to the digital forefront, we need to be able to move from being just focused on wholesale and brick and mortar stores to being able to be online and so as we ended our relationship with Selena in that business, I went to become the president of six different brands, which ranged from Juicy Couture to bb , bc, bg etc. They were all under a holding company and it was creating more digital and e commerce and there went to be the CEO of diamond Furstenberg and did the same thing. But with all that I had been meeting with and doing research on a lot of SAS software companies and in how we can get closer to the consumer. And one thing that I realized was that there wasn’t a lot of focus on the back end and supply chain logistics from a tech standpoint, as much as had been really innovated on the front end, especially when you look at Shopify and what they’ve done, just to be able to create a simple, simple way for an accessible way for anybody to be able to not only create a website, but manage a website for their store that hadn’t been done. So, when I met project where several years ago when I was at Dvf  .We kept having conversations and so ultimately, Project Vertes is a company that is a supply chain technology company. We create technology that helps supply chains, where it can be a seamless integration. And what that means is, if you are a retailer and you have multiple locations online, you’ve got potentially your own website, you’ve got marketplaces like Amazon or Farfetch and others that you’re selling on you’ve got maybe a brick and mortar store pop up you need to be able to have visibility to seeing all your inventory one place all of your sales one place so you don’t have to go onto so many different platforms and take time and hire people just to go through do reporting so that then you can figure out how much inventory do I need? Where do I need to put, He said, “When does it need to be there?”. So, we take all that guesswork away and with a very simple, easy API integration, we are able to provide an order management system and unified commerce platform that we call it, getting technical and all that. But it’s basically one dashboard where you can see everything. So, for me having led businesses where I would have several teams that were siloed out and this one would have to go or get a report from this dashboard, and this one, I’d have to go and look at Google Analytics here and then they’d have to combine them together. And it would just take days and time, we kind of take all that away. And we make it much simpler. So as ecommerce has, you guys have a digital business as e commerce has been escalating, accelerating at this really incredible rate. The backend has to keep up with it. So, everyone’s back end doesn’t matter if you’re selling groceries, screws, horse supplies, or apparel, every bit of it is still has to get to the consumer. So, and we all know now that we as consumers have become dependent on getting it either within two hours, or within a day, because now if it’s longer than a day, you’re like, upset. So, project whereas a technology company, we also have a fulfillment warehouse, where we actually test out our technologies and we ship product there as well. So that’s what kind of what I’ve been into and that seemed like it was a bit of the last frontier as it relates to what I was able to really get deeply involved in and knowledgeable on from ,you know, retail, which is those of us who are in retail understand that it’s a very complicated industry, there’s a lot that goes into it from product development all the way through operations, and finance, etc. So, there’s a lot there.

 Brett Thornton:

Yeah, know, that’s awesome. You know, I imagine that it’s been kind of a while, hopefully, it’s been really good for you the last specially a year and a half, two years, because at least from pretty much all of my contemporaries and peers and people I know, you know, the pandemic has forced, anyone who wasn’t doubling down on economy, now has had to write so or they’re out of business. And so, what I’ve seen, which been so interesting in the last year and a half is that there’s had to been like a four shift. So, there’s, either been like brick-and-mortar retailers that had a little bit of e commerce and now how to go like all into ecom. Or there’s been all these DTC players out there that have now realized, well, I also need to be in retail and then the problems, that get caused when you have a business model, that’s all set for one way, and then you add on the whole another one is oftentimes the reporting and the metrics and the inventory. All this stuff is like a disaster. So, I can only assume that you guys are probably doing really well, because I would imagine this software’s very helpful for so many different companies, especially now after the pandemic.

Sandra Campos:

Yeah, definitely well, and leaves me to kind of answer the second part of where your question was, which is about fashion Launchpad because, exactly what you just said, where so much has changed and accelerated in business in general and everything now is digital. It doesn’t matter what you do, even banking and FinTech and you look at all these different companies that are existing today that didn’t exist two and five years ago. That’s why fashion Launchpad exists. It’s actually, a startup and it is a digital education platform right now focused on retail and fashion because it’s been the one eight number one it’s the largest employer in the country. If people and you can be 14, or you’re getting at, but number two, because we’ve had so much transformation and change, and if you look at jobs, you just talked about, you know, people having to learn about e commerce, look at the LinkedIn profiles right now that people are looking for. And it all has to do with digital performance managers, e commerce managers, you know, digital marketing, like all the digital, but a lot of people who’ve been in the business and industry, who may not have gone to school for it, who may not have had experience on it need to learn somehow. So, I’m a big book, I’m a big believer in continuing education, because it’s a must for me, my education has been constantly like trying to learn and grow and not only by doing, but also through learning by through others. And I think now education is changing as well, where there’s more digital learning, you know, it’s online, you’ve got Coursera as a masterclass, and you’ve got a lot of those. But the point of what we’re doing, especially Launchpad is to whether you’re an entrepreneur, whether you’re a pre professional, or you’re a professional in the industry, you will have courses that are micro courses. So, it’s micro learning under 10 minutes, in videos, and you’ll be able to really hear three key takeaways and everything. So, it could be what’s a line plan to how do you determine a markup to let’s talk about digital marketing, you know, there’s everything in between. So, it’s quite, it’s going to be quite robust. We’re still in the process of building all of it now. But that’s going to be incredible. And I really wanted to do that. Because last April, when the world felt like it was doom and gloom, and everything was falling apart, and there were so many companies going bankrupt and people losing jobs, it just felt like, it was the right time to go back and say, let’s teach someone new skills, let’s rescale and upskill, the individuals who haven’t had those opportunities, and this is what’s going to do that.

Brett Thornton:

That was awesome. I love what you’re doing. So, it’s right up my alley, I was in training and development for 15 years, and now still do a lot of it now. But you know, one of the things that I’ve just always, it amazed me is that all the great companies I’ve worked for the years, they all have one common thread, which was they invested in training and development, like they always did and versus companies I worked for, that weren’t as successful. It was like the same thing. I threaded like, they didn’t want to spend money on trainers, are you learning programs or this or that and you’re like, Guys, you know, you’re not getting it because they want instant ROI. And you’re like, No, you need to train your people and continuously train them to get better. And what we’re seeing now is that I don’t know how it is in the fashion industry, because it’s not, you know, obviously my industry, but I’m seeing the shift, and the consumer psychology is at a rapid pace. So, it’s like, whatever you train someone last year, and the next year, you got to do it all again. Because like things are changing, they’re moving so fast, you know. And so like, I think these micro learnings are perfect, because a, you know, it’s easy to handle, hey, I got 10 15 20 minutes, I can learn this, I can go practice it, I can get good at it. But also, I think that because of the way people ingest information now, just via Tik Tok video, like it’s constant is that I think, especially the younger generation, is, that’s just how they consume information. So, it’s like, if you try to think, I’m going to launch this four-hour course, no one’s going to know, you know, it’s just too it’s not going to work, you know, maybe a decade ago, but just doesn’t work now. So, I think those quick hits just seem really, really cool. So, I’m really excited about that author, check it out, for sure.

Sandra Campos:

I’ll be coming to you now that you said that used to do that as well. I’m going to bring the bench you know it, because it doesn’t matter what you’re really, what the product is, if you have any product out there, even a mattress, you know, you still have product development, you still have distribution, you still have sales, you still finance operations, warehousing, you have all of that, that you have to charm it. So, it doesn’t really matter, if it’s an article of clothing, or if it’s a mattress, you know, you still are talking about product that has to engage with a consumer. And to your point, you know, when I was going to Google summons, every six months, all of a sudden, there was new vernacular every single six months ago, like what’s going on, and you’re having to keep track because things are changing so fast.

Brett Thornton:

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I look back now. And it’s funny, I had this, one of my jobs I was there for three years. And I realized real quick that I didn’t have a good way to access the team, but they had tablets, all the retail people have these tablets. And so that I figured out that if I create a SharePoint site, I could actually push videos directly to their tablet, so there’d be 100 people in a store, walk around these giant stores, and then they could just watch my videos. So, I created a channel called between the sheets with BT. And I just made videos, I think 300 videos, I didn’t three years and push them out. But it was cool, because they were all, you know, three minutes, four minutes, you know, 90 seconds, five minutes, but just constant training and so what it did is it created this loop, you know, where it just everyone understood, hey, if I go to here, I’m going to get a quick hit of something cool. And that just became a way to grow the business and even though it does doesn’t take that long, if you look back over time, you’re like, oh, wow, 300 videos, that’s a lot. You know.

Sandra Campos:

It’s amazing. 

Brett Thornton:

It didn’t seem like a big deal. It’s like, I just shot a video and put it up and it was cool. So, But to your point, you know, I think, you know, that’s in my mind is the training kind of platform of the future, you know, is it’s just a constant flow, you know? 

Sandra Campos:

Well, I say all the time that like, you can learn anything on tik tok. This generation Li, you can learn how to skateboard, you don’t learn how to cook, you can learn how to set you can learn anything in 15 seconds. 

Brett Thornton:

It’s pretty wild. I mean.

Sandra Campos:

We have to change.

Brett Thornton:

We do. You know, and I think, you know, it’s interesting, because, you know, my son is almost 13. So he’s at that age where, yeah, I mean, I feel like once or twice a day, we’re looking at YouTube to figure something out, you know, and like you, there’s never not a time that we look something up, and there’s not 50 things that tell you how to do it or, or even during I’m sure, you know, you probably dealt with this, some of this in high school, where the kids when during the pandemic, but for my kids, it was like, Oh, my God when they had to homeschool that year, and we’re trying to figure out how to do the math. And now the math is all done. Totally different than how I’ve heard it, you know, and I was like, I don’t even know what I’m doing. But then it was like, oh, YouTube, and I’d be like, lesson 9.3. And it’d be like, 30 videos like this, you know? And it was like, thank God, because I was just getting so frustrated. Like, Hi, this makes no sense. You know.

Sandra Campos:

I remember the days when my kids wouldn’t know what I was looking at. And I said, hold on just a moment, they’d asked me a question and go and google it really quickly, I come back, and they thought I was genius. But all of a sudden, they caught on. 

Brett Thornton:

Yeah, so tell me, I’ll switch gears a little bit. So, I love to always just ask a few stories about your career, you know, and I’d like to start with something just funny or entertaining. Like, is there a story you love to tell? You know, maybe when you’re starting out or throughout your career that you love?

Sandra Campos:

Well, probably the one that my kids are so tired of hearing is that I first moved to New York City, not ever having been to New York City before but having had a job that I was moving for. And I moved to make $17,500 a year, which wasn’t a lot when you have to live in Manhattan. And, I had, I literally had to ration like $20 a week, because I was still paying off loans. And I had, you know, my rent and whatever else. And so, I literally had Mr. Potato, who was the potato street vendor at the bottom of the building where I worked, it was $1. And so, my dollar a day potato was what sustained me, and I had three jobs for the first three years. So, I had a day job, an evening job, and a weekend job, because that’s kind of what I had to do, then. But that’s why it really kind of motivated me and encouraged me. So, my milestones and the things that I was always trying to achieve had to do with here’s what I’m going to make salary wise by this. And then here’s what I’m going to hit by this age. So, it was salary and title and, and that’s kind of what kept me moving forward and trying to get to a certain place, you know, so I wouldn’t have to eat potatoes for $1 a day.

Brett Thornton:

 Yes, I know. I, yeah, my, I’m still very close with a couple of my roommates in college like we they live here and we hang out all the time. And, and we were telling stories to our kids recently, we were all having like a barbecue, and we were talking about how we did spaghetti, like four to five nights a week. He’s like, legit, because it was like, we could get this giant pack for 99 cents. And then, these I don’t even know what was in the tomato sauce. I know. But it was like, but that was it, you know, and then if we had extra money, we might have something to put in it. You know, every now and again maybe like some like Groundhog Day or something. But it was like, yeah, we had spaghetti like five nights a week. You know, we’re like, hey, you got to do what you got to do. And you’re young, you know, you’re trying to figure it out.

Sandra Campos:

It’s so true. You got to do what you got to do. Yes, I impressed my kids with my stories of, of my one night a week pasta outing that I would have. Yes.

Brett Thornton:

Oh, so you know what’s interesting, though, so we’ve got, we’re doing a lot of real estate stuff and in New York City, and it’s really exciting. But it’s been funny because we’ve been meeting with these different brokers and they were saying how there’s like, all of a sudden, this revival right now, because all these places became vacant in the city, you know, during the pandemic, and Brooklyn, all this stuff. And now they’re saying they’re like, well, now they’re filling all back up. And so, they’re like, we have a whole new wave of people like digit dude, and just like what you did, right, coming from the Midwest, whatever was like, you know, and saying, I want to try that New York lifestyle. So, they’re like, every day, it’s just 1000 more people coming that are brand new to New York, you know, so a lot of new stories in 20 years, you know, hopefully of them making it right. 

Sandra Campos:

Yeah, no, that’s fine. That’s fine to hear. It’s good to hear New York’s getting back. 

Brett Thornton:

Yeah. So, tell me, you know, obviously, you’ve had this long career, it went in a lot of different paths. No, do you have a story you could tell us about a time when you failed, you know, and kind of how you overcame it something that maybe it’s steered your career a certain way or anything?

Sandra Campos:

Well, I think Yeah, so that mean There’s always failures. And there’s always successes. And I kind of look at each role in each place that I’ve been in there, there have been both and every one of them and sometimes, you know, the failures are not failures that are really putting an imprint on your career. But they’re certainly mistakes that you’re making that are, are making you grow and helping you to learn so that you don’t make those mistakes again. And now I’m able to kind of advice entrepreneurs and small startup businesses as well, because I’ve been there done that, you know, and I’ve made some of those mistakes already. And, you know, it ranges off the top my head, I don’t know that there’s, you know, I think those failures, the ones that are probably the most impactful to me, as a leader are the ones when you feel like you’ve failed with an individual or you haven’t been able to help, the ones that are most successful are the ones where you see that you’ve actually been able to impact somebody’s career, and they’ve grown and they keep coming back to you. And, and when you have people that you’ve worked with multiple times over or four years at a time, and you know, they’ve really impacted you and you’ve really impacted them, that to me has been the biggest success.

Brett Thornton:

Yeah, that’s cool. And, and what was it like? You know, having worked for these big companies, right? And then, you know, did you have any fears when you broke off? and were like, you know, what, I want to do something on my own as an entrepreneur?

Sandra Campos:

Absolutely. I, the reality, though, was, I did that, because at the time, I was going through a divorce, and I had three kids under the age of four, they were really little. And I needed to be able to make a change in my life, because I couldn’t travel as much as I was doing. Or at least I didn’t feel like I could travel the same, have the same level of passion three to four, you know, three to five days a week, being on the road, and then getting home at eight o’clock at night, because I was in a senior leadership role at a big company. And I just knew I had to make a change; it was hard. And I would say that because my life pointing in that direction, I had to work really hard even afterwards to get back into corporate even from being a successful entrepreneur. But you know, you do what you have to do. And that to me was what I wanted to do for my kids and for myself was to be able to have something that was more flexible. So, I could be a single mom, I could be at home with them in the evenings and have dinner with them. And I could also, you know, do something that was still keeping me in the industry. But I will say you know; it is a hard thing. So, when I talked to people now and I talked about what would I do differently, I think I wasn’t as engaged as I could have been. And I should have probably stayed or could have stayed more engaged in the industry during those years, because it was definitely harder getting back into a corporate role. Because we’re very siloed, you know, when recruiters are going out and looking for roles to fill, they’re like, given a task of find this person with from this competitor with this expertise. And that’s what they go and look for, they don’t always think outside the box, because somebody might have a lot more experience or more background or, you know, have created a whole 100-million-dollar business a year. They don’t always look at that and say, well, that fits the box, you know, so keeping in touch and now there’s so many more communities and organizations that you can be a part of, from a female organizations to just, you know, groups in general lunch club, being one of them, where you can really stay in touch, stay connected, keep learning, you know, even from a fashion Launchpad to a masterclass to Shaw Academy, who I think does great online courses as well. Just stay involved, stay up to date, keep fine refining your skills, and don’t let that get too far away. I get calls a lot from people, women, and men both who’ve left the industry to go and raise their families and then have a hard time coming back. 

Brett Thornton:

Yeah.so it’s just really staying connected and staying alert and aware. Because to your point earlier, everything has changed.

Sandra Campos:

Yeah, now, for sure. I think I love that you said that. Because I think, you know, I think it’s almost it’s funny, it’s almost a taboo, people don’t really talk about it in business, but there are so many single parents that are working, you know, and trying to figure out like that, that navigation of, you know, dealing with figuring out kids and schools and jobs and work. And when you do this and all this stuff, it becomes really crazy as a single parent, but I always tell people because I’m a single father and you know, I’m blessed, my kids mom is amazing. And we have a great co parenting situation. But I always say like if I had a choice, and I was hiring candidates, and they were equal, and one was a single parent and one wasn’t I would hire the single parent every single time. Because there’s a couple things that only I think really happen as a single parent, which is a I think the your heightened level of having to succeed is like up here. Right? It’s like next level because you’re like I this has to work you know, and then I think too is especially not and I wouldn’t say this for like single parents where that’s it. It’s just them and no one else but if they have a especially a spouse or and there’s another A parent, you know, that’s co parenting with them, at least in my case, I have three or four nights a week where I don’t have my kids. And I’ve always used that time to dedicate towards, like, whatever job I’m doing projects, relationships, things that a lot of my friends don’t have time to dip into, which is really interesting, you know. So although my schedule is always crazy, and it’s just like a roller coaster, I feel like I’ve always been so much more dedicated in making sure like, I will not fail, you know, and I’m going to show these guys that, you know, you may have troubles, you may have hardship, but it doesn’t mean you can’t get through all of that. And I want them to see that right. So no matter what happens when they’re adults, they know like, I can make it through this and be successful. Does that make sense?

Brett Thornton:

Absolutely. And you’re 100%. Right, there is no turning back. So, you don’t have an option? And that’s why, you know, that’s why I kind of when you ask that question. That’s really what motivated me was the fact that I had these kids, I had to make it work, they’ve been mindfully, you know, not they obviously have a father. But in terms of responsibility, and with them and all the time. At that same time, I had all these aspirations for career. So, what’s interesting, now, my kids are a little older than yours is that fast forward, my kids now are in high school and college. And I have all this time that I didn’t used to have. So now I’m so much more busy, I’m doing all kinds of things that I wouldn’t really be able to do if I had small kids at home. So you find these different phases of life, where you can really dig into your career, entrepreneurial ventures, whatever it is that you want to whatever that phase of life is, but you know, as your kids do get older, you have a little bit more time. Again, so I think there’s a that’s why I take advantage of these incredible opportunities out there to learn and to grow and to keep moving forward.

Sandra Campos:

Yeah, that’s awesome. And so last story I’m going to ask you is just about success. So can you tell us a time like, when was the time in your career where you literally had to maybe it was a day after something happened, where you just were like, I cannot believe this is happening right now.

Brett Thornton:

You know, I will say that. It really is it as much as I kind of hate to say this, but at the same time it I have found it to be true. When you have that CEO title, it does change things. And being a female and being a Latina female CEO has changed a lot of things. So, for me, when I worked as a CEO of Dima Furstenberg, Diane was actually very, instrumental in helping me even see what I needed to do, and make me feel the responsibility that I had more, not that I didn’t feel it before, but she was like, go out there and tell the story, right? Go out and talk. And it was, it’s not my comfort zone. I’m kind of like a social introvert and a professional extrovert. But I it wasn’t my comfort zone to go out and just talk and go out and really say, like, you know, I’m a Latina, I’m first generation Mexican I, all these things that I really hadn’t discussed in my career. Because one, you know, as a female, I was just trying to succeed, and kind of be part of the C suite. But the minute that I actually had that conversation with Diana, first time where she said, you know, go out and you tell your story before somebody else tells it. That’s what I need to do. Because it’s not about me, it’s about the next generation, it’s about somebody else who might say, you know what, I can do that too. And I didn’t have to go to an Ivy League school, or I didn’t have to grow up with a family who has a trust fund, or I didn’t have to grow up in a certain part of the country. You know, I can come from a small town in Texas, I can go to a school that no one in New York has ever heard of, you know, I can do these things and still become what I want to be in my life. 

Sandra Campos:

That is awesome. I love that. 

Brett Thornton:

You know, I think that, to me, I’ll just sayBrett is like, that’s Success to me. Yeah. Because, at this point, I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing in my career for a long time. I don’t guess you always going to have to prove yourself and you know, to what you just said, it’s not going to I’m not going to fail. But I also know that I have responsibility to be able to help others. And that’s what I’m trying to do.

Sandra Campos:

Yeah, I love it. You know, it was interesting. I think we were talking before we started the podcast but my first season you know, focused on these different CEOs that you know, have woven giving back into their business strategy and so here a lot of these different CEOs ,no, not all but some of them are extremely wealthy now they sold their companies or whatever they’re worth hundreds of millions of dollars and the thing that was so interesting, is that you could they set it in the interviews, like the only thing that really mattered to them was now these foundations and it’s giving back and how they do like that’s what their life was about now, because I think the message was pretty clear that the money didn’t that’s just didn’t do it for him, especially after a while, you know, So they realize that changing other people’s lives, doing these positive things, having these organizations that became this fulfillment, and it’s hard to top that, you know, and so I think, like, what you’re saying is, it’s so important that we, you know, we give back to these generations that are coming up, we help teach them things that we didn’t know, or that we wish we had known and like get put them in a better position. But at the end of the day, you know, I think, you know, as you said, you know, we’ve got to show people different pathways of success, because the old way of like, you know, I’m going to go to school, I’m going to do this, I got the job, I mean, all that stuff like that, that not that you can’t do that. But it sure seems a lot more like this these days. And I think kids, what’s great is that it’s not that everyone has the same opportunity. Because depending on where you’re born, where you live, all these things, you have challenges, that can be very difficult. However, we also all have the opportunity to learn the same amount of information. And that’s the change. So like, I tell my kids all the time is like, you know, at the end of the day, everybody has the opportunity to learn all this different stuff, some people will go out and get it and some people won’t, you know, and so at least even though it can be more difficult when we show people Hey, this isSandra campus, this is where she came from first generation, all these different things. Like I think that hopefully motivates a lot of people that like, you know what, maybe my situation is tough, but doesn’t mean I can’t do it. You know.

Sandra Campos:

Yeah, and you know what it was, it’s never easy. And I tell my kids all the time where you know, nothing was ever handed to me, nothing’s going to be handed to you, you have to go out and get it. So do your point, learn, take advantage of it. Knowledge is confidence, confidence gives you a voice gives you the ability to raise your hand at a table, have that voice, and that helps you progress and move in and move up if that’s what you want to do in your career, you know, but knowledge to me is gaining that knowledge. And really gaining as much knowledge as possible, is pivotal, especially now as things change so quickly. And you know, this new generation is changing everything. Because you know, from your kids, Generation Z is not only the new audience or the new consumer, it’s also the new workforce, and they’re going to force us to change and because their behaviors, their values, the products, the companies that they align with, it’s very different. So, I’m excited about that. You know, I’m excited about that, and to see what happens with this new generation and how they help us all kind of change and grow.

Brett Thornton:

Yeah, absolutely. So, I know, it’s been 45 minutes, we’re already over that. But one last question. So just based on your, you know, your career, all the things you’ve done, you know, being you know, a female executive, being in the C suite, launching your own businesses, all these different things like what would be for your someone, let’s say someone in their 20s, maybe getting out of school or trying to figure out, hey, where do I go as a career, what would be like one piece of advice you’d give someone that does, you know, wants to be successful and doesn’t want to set any limits for themselves.

Sandra Campos:

I always heard this. And I don’t exactly know what the quote was but align your, find your community, and align yourself with that community, those that can mentor you may not necessarily just be older than you, you can be mentored, You can learn from anyone, be a sponge, pay attention, be alert, and really learn and take that in and take advantage of that. I think who your community is, will impact you a lot as you grow in your career. Because of that community, you know, those individuals in that group are also growing and are motivated, it’s going to help you grow and be more motivated to if they’re not, it’s not going to help you as much. So, kind of find that community be a part of it, listen, learn, take it all in. It doesn’t matter how old they are. I learned from a 25-year-old, literally, who is an incredible woman founder as well. But it doesn’t matter how old they are or what they do. You can learn from anyone from any industry and just to me that the biggest lesson is to find your community and to continue to learn.

Brett Thornton:

Awesome, I love it. So, thank you so much. This was great. Just like I said, I learned so much, didn’t know basically any of this stuff, which is awesome. So, thank you. Tell everyone like so if anyone was listening, and they’re interested in Project bird, or fashion Launchpad, what’s the best way to like kind of learn more get in touch with you or someone at the company?

Sandra Campos:

So, first of all, LinkedIn is everything to me. I’m obsessed with LinkedIn. So go on LinkedIn and you can find both project gear and fashion Launchpad and meSandra Campos: NYC as well and that’s kind of if you want to learn more, I would say, both those things and to go on LinkedIn and find me there. I will generally as much as I can always respond and very happy to do so.

Brett Thornton:

Awesome. Thank you so much. I appreciate it. I loved it. 

Sandra Campos:

Thank you. Have a great day. Have a great day out there today. 

Brett Thornton:

I know you too, talk soon.

Sandra Campos:

Thank you. Bye

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