Leslie Ramos

Director of merchandising, Young Men’s Quiksilver Huntington Beach, CA

Ramos is building off of Quiksilver’s rich heritage as she gives the young men’s division a global reach

I’m an Orange County girl. I grew up seeing my brother wear Quiksilver. It didn’t have girls’ clothing at the time, but I thought it was very cool.

I dabbled in the fashion industry for a while. I knew I wanted to work in fashion, but didn’t know what I wanted to do. I studied merchandising and product development in college, during which time I worked in retail and also interned for Quiksilver. After college, I stumbled upon freelance fashion styling and public relations, but at some point I realized I might want to find a job that used my degree, so I looked at Quiksilver.

The company didn’t have an opening at the time. I kept trying, though, and eventually got a job as a merchandising assistant through Monster.com. I didn’t have any experience, but a recommendation from the person I’d interned with years before helped a lot.

Quiksilver, Inc. has three brands. They include Quiksilver, which is for young men; Roxy, which is for young women; and DC Shoes. Today, as director of merchandising for what we call the Quiksilver young men’s division, I essentially brief the design team on a product assortment that fulfills the needs of the Quiksilver brand in the Americas. I’m involved from planning to the end of production.

The brand has a deep heritage. It started in 1969 with board shorts sold out of the back of a van. That’s a story a lot of other apparel companies don’t have. As a result, the brand is a lifestyle: it brings together people with one common passion—the action, sports, and surf culture.

Apparel companies are becoming more global. They have offices around the world, but those offices function independently. We functioned like that, too, but now our goal is to have one global hub and to operate as one business, with the same brand image and messaging across regions. To that end, Quiksilver has gone through changes over the past year.

The challenge is recognizing that we all do things differently. To become a bigger player on a global scale, we have to understand each other. I hope to have a role in that. Right now my focus is on the Americas, but I’d like to use my experience domestically to help other regions use our best practices. I think in the next couple of years the global initiatives we have in place—all the new strategies and processes we’re working toward—will fall into place. We’ll be a global apparel company that is positioned to be competitive amongst the Nikes of the world.