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Adimika Owens

When the Director of Visual for Floor & Decor walks into a meeting, she’s bold, confident and stylish. It all began with a fourth-grade sweater.

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Adimika Owens
Adimika Owens
When the Director of Visual for Floor & Decor walks into a meeting, she’s bold, confident and stylish. It all began with a fourth-grade sweater.

Everybody in this industry has an ‘ah-ha’ moment concerning design and fashion. Do you remember yours?

Vividly! I was a shy, awkward little fourth-grader in Oakland, Calif., and one day I saw a girl walking across the schoolyard wearing this bold red-green-and-yellow-striped sweater. I realized at that moment that the right clothes can you give a certain amount of protection, a suit of armor, allowing you to hide your insecurities and present yourself with an aura of confidence. The power of presentation.

And that was it for you?

Clothing and fashion became my North Star. But, like a lot of people, I convinced myself that it wasn’t practical. So I majored in business at Clark Atlanta University, because majoring in fashion seemed kind of lame-o and nobody was encouraging me otherwise.

Still, your career has been all over the place.

Yes, it has. After college, I worked with a big, prestigious advertising agency in New York and a catalog company in New Jersey.

Not your North Star jobs.

No, but my next stop was at Bloomingdale’s as a buying assistant. And that really was a dream come true. I advanced to associate buyer in the luggage department. Then September 11 happened and people stopped flying. My department dwindled down to nothing.

So I became a buyer for Victoria’s Secret, and then a pharmaceutical salesperson for Johnson & Johnson. They transferred me to Los Angeles, and here is where I regained my path – in the visual department at Forever 21. It was styling and fashion and visual merchandising around the world, but the travel was killing me. Then Floor & Decor reached out with a director position.

An odd switch in sectors.

A total culture shock for me, the most intense period of my life. I thought I could do visual for any merchandise line, but I didn’t realize how hard the transition would be.

📷 : Courtesy of marekulias/SHUTTERSTOCK

📷 : Courtesy of marekulias/SHUTTERSTOCK

You Go, Girl!

So a striped sweater really changed your life.

“Yep. I was walking on a Brooklyn sidewalk recently and Erykah Badu, an R&B singer and style touchstone for a lot of black women, pulled me aside and said, ‘You go girl, you know you’re the s–t! Your outfit is so cute. You’ve got it!’ It was validation of what I sensed in fourth grade. Presentation matters, whether you’re outfitting yourself or setting up a store.

“When I walk into a meeting in my blazer and heels, many people don’t expect to see a Black woman in charge of visual merchandising. It’s empowering when you show up and act confident and dress a certain way. I am the visual director, good to meet you.”

Yet it worked.

It worked when the company realized there was a market for them beyond contractors. There were home designers, DIY-ers and affluent homeowners. And I was their new target market: a female, professional, independent decision-maker in my 40s. Women know what they want in their home, but they’re not familiar with or interested in the practical aspects. We had to provide them an inviting, clean store environment with lots of clear choices and lots of service – information and inspiration.

But, also, I learned to speak to the industry professionals. So we have sections of the store devoted to contractors and designers. We’ve also added accessories so when they buy bathroom tile, they can also order faucets and drawer pulls.

Culture shock is over.

For sure. When I worked at Forever 21, I was like a celebrity to my friends. When I went to work for Floor & Decor, they all said, ‘You work where?’ Now they say, ‘OMG, they just did my bathroom!’

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