Founder/CEO of Winston Retail, Jan Croatt, Shares her Retail Journey
University of Arizona Retailing and Consumer Sciences Alumna, Jan Croatt, is the Founder and CEO of Winston Retail. Based out of New York City, Winston Retail offers brands a solution to merchandising, customer connection and experience. They offer field and merchandising demonstrations, training and stock support, field technology design and concept, visual display building and installation and unique pop-up experiences, from stationary storefronts to mobile units that tour the country.
Though a virtual event with the Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing, UArizona students and industry professionals were able to join Jan and hear the story of Winston Retail, from its inception to where they are today.
After gaining valuable experience in the retail and brands industry, Jan was able to take a step back and reevaluate where she wanted her career to go. She reviewed what she calls her “career architecture” and re-examined what she was passionate about, where she had experience and where she needed to gain experience in order to start her own business. She was able then to make career moves to strengthen her resume and build a strong foundation to start the agency.
Winston Retail started originally with 3 people, quickly moved to 6 people to create a company that could really serve the needs of retailers and brands as they rolled out new marketing initiatives, which needed long-term and temporary staffing, comprehensive training, project management, visual and marketing talent and could provide real-time data and results. Today, Winston Retail staffs 3,300 employees with unique talents across the United States, serving over 110 brands in a variety of roles. Each brand project is different and serves the exact needs of their partners.
University of Arizona Retailing and Consumer Science student, Stanley McBride sat in on Jan’s talk and had previously visited the Winston Retail headquarters, on a study tour with the Terry J. Lundgren Center last January. Since that visit, he has been following Winston’s work. “Winston is in a unique position to help the retail industry by utilizing pop up shops and using intricate designs to amaze customers. After reviewing examples of their work, I was impressed with the level of detail and the show of passion in each body of work. Every design has a purpose and meaning; a real definition of no stone left unturned.”
Much of the creativity and attention to detail Stanley describes comes from Jan’s company’s emphasis on building meaningful relationships and really understanding the client’s vision. Jan shared with us some very important, yet simple advice. “Never burn a bridge.” Winston’s first clients were Michael Kors, Lucky Brand and Nike. Throughout her career and before Winston, Jan made sure to maintain and grow meaningful relationships with those in the industry. She had mentors and supporters in those early adopters who knew what Winston was capable of. This piece struck students, including Stanley. “Jan reminded us that you never know who you will see again in the future. It is smart to leave a good impression and never forget people because you may end up seeing them again in the future.”
We asked Stanley what was his biggest takeaway after listening to Jan’s story and he shared with us, “To stay curious. If you aren’t 100% invested in what you are doing, try something new. As students, we want to do great things and have a purpose. Jan has this feeling now at Winston but had to work at other places and ultimately leave other roles in order to find her calling. I think there is an important lesson to learn in that.”
The Terry J. Lundgren Center is thankful to Jan Croatt for her continued support of students and initiatives at the University of Arizona. In his own words, Stanley shared thoughts on his connection with Jan and Winston Retail. “Jan has completed her full circle. She was a retailing student, went to a career after graduating, became a business owner, and is now mentoring us, the next generation. I am happy to have learned of her success and appreciative of her in taking time to teach us where she came from and what she does now. I am even more excited to see what she accomplishes for years to come.”
Special thank you to Jan Croatt and the Winston Retail family for their continued support and mentorship of our students!