Up Close is Sourcing Journal’s regular check-in with industry executives to get their take on topics ranging from personal style to their company’s latest moves. In this Q&A, Frank Cammarata, CEO and founder of footwear manufacturer and distributor The Enjoiya Group, speaks about the company’s new brand and how nonessential categories can weather the pandemic.
Name: Frank Cammarata
Title: CEO and founder
Company: The Enjoiya Group (formerly Camtrade)
Which other industry has the best handle on the supply chain? What can footwear learn?
Most fashion footwear is considered nonessential. That is the major challenge at this point. I would say the toilet paper industry! [He laughs.] In all honesty, the Amazon model is clearly best suited for the time we are going through. And also grocery stores and food markets. We will be contouring our footwear design to a more indoor/outdoor fashion. That is geared to help us foster sustainability.
How would you describe yourself as a consumer?
Spontaneous. Value conscious on high-ticket items, but not so much on basic day-to-day needs. I buy a lot of shirts, because that can change a whole wardrobe and help with versatility. Quick and easy. I like shopping off-price stores. I enjoy the treasure hunt. My family shops for themselves. They think my tastes are odd.
As a consumer, what does it take to win your loyalty?
I prefer real brick-and-mortar stores. I enjoy that experience. A clean and orderly environment, with polite sales help and fairly quick checkout lines. Broad selection and great prices help, too. I prefer that over the online experience.
What’s your typical uniform?
Work is black dress pants and a fancy patterned shirt. Weekend is jeans or shorts and a short sleeve, solid black V-neck top with my Puma Smash classic white sneakers that I wore in grammar school.
Which fashion era is your favorite?
Who’s your style icon?
I loved The Beatles look, and how it evolved from dark suits to hippy chic. Plus, the music was epic.
What’s the best decision your company has made in the last year?
That we kept our entire company team together, so that when we come out on the other end of this pandemic, the core spirit, attitude, knowledge and relationships are still intact and we can thrive. Plus, most importantly, our people were able to keep their jobs, which makes me very proud.
How would you describe your corporate culture?
Respectful, in that we all listen to each other. I have tried to foster a humble and open exchange of ideas type of environment. It’s so important that the best ideas are heard and implemented. It also builds confidence and bench strength. Plus, I encourage all of our associates to maintain the right work-family balance, and I think that they do.
What can companies learn from Covid-19?
There’s no handbook for it, but if you manufacture product that may become less essential for a period of time, I think you have to simplify your business and become more efficient. Take the time to hunker down with your team and focus on creative ideas while maintaining working relationships with your retailers and consumers. And I recommend having a contingency plan and rainy day fund, should a calamity of this sort occur again.
What should be the footwear industry’s top priority now?
Address the potential cultural shift of more remote working, homeschooling and smaller more casual social gatherings, and how that will affect the consumer’s footwear needs with respect to styling, functionality and versatility under these new norms, which will hopefully be temporary.
What keeps you up at night?
November and December. Potential unrest after the election no matter who wins. I pray that we can get through this period and come together as a country, but it can be daunting to think about.
What makes you most optimistic?
How our brave frontline workers put their lives on the line since March, over the last six months. That was so powerful and inspirational. They are truly role models for our entire country. We have been through a depression, two world wars, Vietnam, September 11th, the 2009 recession, and many other challenges as a people, and we will get through this, without a doubt. Plus, I am so appreciative about how our Enjoiya Group team pulled together over these last six months. Makes me very proud.
Tell us about your company’s latest product introduction/service:
We launched a new entity called Enjoiya, which we have positioned for the women’s better footwear market. It has been received very well, I am happy to say. It’s truly a wonderful complement to our Soft Comfort and Secret Celebrity brands. We invented, created and trademarked the name and feel it has a high ceiling. It’s slinky, exotic and fresh, and has much potential in other product categories. Stay tuned. We are really excited about it!