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Interview: Erika Best, Senior Brand Marketing Manager at The Black Tux

By Partner


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The Black Tux was founded in 2013 by Andrew Blackmon and Patrick Coyne, longtime friends who, while preparing for Andrew’s wedding in 2011, saw an opportunity to offer men an alternative to traditional tuxedo and suit rental outlets. The Black Tux’s formalwear designs are originals, created in-house from Italian fabrics to ensure the best quality and fit. FashionUnited recently chatted with Erika Best, the Senior Brand Marketing Manager at The Black Tux on how she loves the company’s culture and work environment. Best tells us, at TBT, the people are fun, authentic, and smart, and the startup really prioritizes ownership and learning.

What does being the Senior Brand Marketing Manager at The Black Tux entail?

I lead the team that handles all of The Black Tux’s brand marketing, which is essentially any marketing we do that’s specifically designed to drive brand awareness, interest, or loyalty. Our approach is very customer-centric and we have the exciting task of designing the strategy for each of our major brand marketing campaigns-which are centered around our customers’ peak celebration moments, including weddings, prom, and the holidays.

What does a workday look like for you?

Every morning the marketing team has a quick daily standup where we chat through our accomplishments from the past day, goals for today, and how we’re feeling (yes, we talk about feelings at work, and I love it!). Right now, my calendar is filled with a lot of prom and wedding-season related meetings with members of our creative team. In between, I try to spend as much time as I can working on long term, big picture projects––creating resources for the team, doing things to sharpen my brand marketing expertise and coaching up direct reports.

Did you always want to work in fashion and e-commerce?

I didn’t, but working at The Black Tux has honestly made me appreciate fashion more. Before this, I never fully realized that being thoughtful about what you wear can make such an impact on how you feel. It’s all about picking out things you like and making a deliberate choice about the articles that go into your outfit each day. I personally feel more confident and happier when I take the time to do that.

Can you tell us about your professional background, what led you to work at The Black Tux?

I went to Stanford for my bachelor’s and studied English with a concentration in creative writing. I never planned to get into marketing or fashion, but I love hearing people’s stories––how they work, what their life experience has been like, etc. It took me a little while to realize that marketing actually lives at the intersection of those interests in storytelling and psychology.

I’ve also learned that startup culture is all about designing products that actually make people’s lives better, and marketing has become more about connecting people to those products. The quality and impact of my employer’s product are really important to me, and The Black Tux is one of those companies that has a truly superior product. Plus, it’s a product that makes people feel like a million bucks on the biggest days in their lives.

What is your advice for those who would like to work at The Black Tux?

Our CMO, Matt, talks about this kind of “Get Sh*t Done” factor, which is essentially just being the kind of worker who finds a way.

When I first moved to LA, I basically worked as a glorified courier making special deliveries to celebrities. I was given a $3,000 watch to deliver to Channing Tatum, and was told there’d be someone home to receive it from me. When I got to his house, though, no one answered, I had no cell service, and he had a 10-foot wall around his property. I didn’t want to drive all the way back to the office with the job undone, so I went back to my car to brainstorm. I ended up taking my aux cord (which I used to listen to music from my iPhone) and tying it around the watch box. I tossed the watch over the wall, lowered it down as much as I could, and finally let it go. It wasn’t a perfect solution, but I made it work!

Anyone can learn how to “GSD.” All it takes is practice and the right attitude. I think if you can get into this concept, you’ll do well here, or anywhere else you want!

What does it take to become the Senior Brand Marketing Manager at The Black Tux?

Any role in brand marketing requires a high degree of empathy. You need to hone your ability to put yourself in other people’s shoes, so you can speak to them in a way they’ll respond to. Experience in brand and marketing doesn’t hurt either, but I think the most important thing is to stay sharp, work hard, and be detail-oriented, and to develop an ability to thoughtfully navigate unfamiliar situations. The Black Tux holds its employees to a high standard, but I think if you practice all of the above you’ll be good to go here, and wherever you go.

What is your must-have fashion item?

Right now, it’s a watch. Fashionable and also very functional in the workplace. I’m currently rocking a watch from MVMT. I love their modern, simplistic designs.

Any personal achievements or career milestones you’d like to share with us?

My parents didn’t go to college. We had money troubles growing up, and I worked my way through high school as a waitress. I didn’t have any expectation to get into a school like Stanford. I almost didn’t apply––my best friend made me do it. I submitted my application literally one minute before the deadline. When I got to Stanford, I had so much self-doubt. I failed my first midterm. I thought they must’ve made a mistake.

I wanted to share this for anyone struggling with imposter syndrome. You don’t have to believe in yourself to succeed, I didn’t. But what if you’re holding yourself back? I just put in the work and got really lucky. I’m learning that if you don’t set any limits for yourself, you become limitless.

This article was created in cooperation with The Black Tux.

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Photos: courtesy of The Black Tux

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