My Portfolio: A Portrait of Christina Knight
Christina’s Portfolio: Table of Contents
Hi there, it’s Christina! Formerly known as Christina Chou. Now Christina Knight.
Welcome to my personal + professional portfolio.
It’s a snapshot of the projects I’ve impacted that drive the core of who I am.
Beauty Tech SaaS Leader.
At the end of the day, I’m always here to build meaningful experiences and inspire those I’m surrounded by.
I seek out opportunities to create, to tell the stories that hold deep significance and to deliver thoughtful and delightful experiences to customers and clients alike.
Who is Christina at the core?
My personal philosophy in life is ever-evolving. Some of the greatest lessons have come at the most difficult of times while others during moments of pushing myself the hardest.
Here’s a peek at some of the inner mantras of what drives me throughout each day!
Kohl’s Department Stores (2006-2015)
Kohl’s Department Stores. The USA’s largest department store chain, operating 1,158 stores across the nation. [Check it out, here: website + wikipedia]
I joined at 732 stores. And opened 100 stores per year over the course of the next few years in a fast-paced top-line growth environment.
This meant high responsibility. High impact. From the onset of my career coming out of college.
This meant high visibility. This meant that even when I started as a Merchandise Analyst, my findings and analysis were critical. Because small learnings could lead to bigger picture gains.
I saw the impact of small findings to greater key initiatives as I progressed through the positions of Assistant Buyer, Merchandise Planner and then to Buyer.
Here are some of the accomplishments I’m most proud of during my 10 years at Kohl’s Department Stores:
Kohl’s: Chasing Dresses
The Achievement: In my debut role as a Merchandise Analyst in 2006, I made recommendations to the Buyer that led to chasing the Dress category and overdelivering to our sales plan.
The Lesson: It didn’t matter that my role was not the highest in the office back in 2006. My eye for projections and identifying trends made a huge difference in the bigger picture. As I reprojected the sales trend for Juniors casual dresses within our ladder plans at a by style level, I saw that we would run out of inventory in a few months! I let the buyer know by style the gap of receipt power we needed and she went out to our vendors to get her hands on the chase product we needed!
- Achieved double digit growth in casual dress category: Smocked woven dresses were a hit!
- Helped save the buyer time by letting her know by style which dresses were outselling
- Went on to win the Buying Office of the Quarter Award two quarters in a row!
- Built rapport with the team early on by offering my voice and recommendations
- Connected financials to product by understanding which specific items were outselling, understanding the story behind the numbers, a characteristic that would become the key to my success throughout the rest of my career.
Kohl’s: The Case of the Vera Wang Launch With Zero Ad Space
The Achievement: As the Assistant Buyer for Petites, I didn’t take “no” for an answer when we were allocated zero ad space based on “last year” despite an upcoming launch of the Simply Vera Vera Wang brand.
The Lesson: In the Petite office, we had been working on our launch of the Simply Vera Vera Wang brand, one year after the Misses office had had their highly successful launch. They got a spot on Oprah!!! The Oprah! We in the Petite office had…zero allocated ad space (much less a spot on Oprah! Oprah!!) within our own organization! Not to fret – by partnering with marketing and being adamant that we needed ad space in the markets where we were launching to let our customer know she would have her very own Petite sized Vera Wang products, I was able to procure a half page cut to allow for our product to be showcased in our launch. Special sizes, namely the Petite woman, would not be overlooked!
- Collaborated with the marketing team to be a voice for our petite customer, letting them know that our launch was important for floor credibility!
- Procured a half page cut in 4 market segments out of 6 markets to showcase our launch.
- Led to a strong launch, notably in the printed tees and denim categories for the Petite woman
- Showcased that the Petite customer was absolutely not the same as the Misses lady and we needed to treat her launch in a special manner!
Kohl’s: Service Level Deep Dive
The Achievement: As Merchandise Planner for the company’s largest volume office, I helped turn around the “service level” of our top bra platform from a low 70% percentile to a mid 90% percentile level fulfillment.
The Lesson: As the lead Merchandise Planner in the high-volume generating category of intimate apparel, we had a perplexing situation within our top bra platform: Our nationally recognized vendor was only filling into 60% of our orders! We knew the style was outselling and that our brand partner was running out of stock themselves.
But still, wasn’t there anything we could do? By digging deeper into the issue and speaking with the operations team vs. only my sales rep, I learned that because our office generated orders on Monday, that other companies generating orders on Sunday would get their orders filled before us! Thus, we changed our game plan and started generating two orders per week, one on Friday (to catch all the goods we could before “those other guys” – sorry Target, Bon-Ton, JCPenney, Sears and Nordstrom!) and then Monday as a backup. A solution that we found by overturning the covers!
- Ordering twice a week in our top platform took more work, but drove better selling due to better fill rates
- Built a rapport with not only the sales rep from our national brand partner but also leveraged the relationship of the operations teams
- Increased our shipments which led to better receipt flow and overall profitability
- Encouraged my team of merchandise analysts to step of their comfort zone to ask the deeper questions to find solutions by setting an example
Kohl’s: Stepping Up + Standing Out
The Achievement: When I wanted to become a Buyer for Kohl’s, I quickly learned that achievements did not spell promotion. Instead, it was recognizing how to influence those who were influential while polishing and honing my skills. I decided to elevate my profile.
The Lesson: There was a new player in town. She was not from the midwest. There was no midwest nice. She hailed from New York City, and many of the associates felt she spoke quite directly. But she was the one to win over. She was our new head honcho of merchandising, of the buying organization.
Many people looked to her for her opinion and her approval. But I thought I’d just get to know her and try to understand the whys of how she operated. I asked my then boss to help me set up a meeting, and over the course of an hour, we got to know each other. I shared with her my goals and aspirations and by the end, she knew that my favorite color combo was pink + green. To my surprise, she told me that it was also her favorite color combo! Talking with others on a human level always makes the difference. The connection. The rapport.
- Built rapport and showcased confidence by becoming someone on the radar
- Worked harder and propelled myself to take on more responsibility in order to also be worthy of the next step
- Connected in a human manner where we can all collectively understand our goals to better ourselves as people
- Led to eventually having the opportunity to interview for my Buyer position based on letting others know my aspirations and giving them the chance to champion me
Career Break in Taiwan (2016)
The Interlude: After 10 amazing years at Kohl’s Department Stores, my life was ready for a different chapter.
A career break.
Time with my lovely grandparents in Taipei, Taiwan.
I’d be studying Chinese with intensive Mandarin courses for three hours a day at the renowned Mandarin Training Center at the National Taipei Normal University.
It felt different to pursue a path many might not take at a peak time of my career at a company I loved, but I wanted to spend time with family and pursue a deeper look into my heritage and roots.
Here are some of the accomplishments I’m most proud of during my career break at the end of 2015 through the beginning of 2017:
Career Break: A Passion for Learning
The Achievement: Diving into a year of intensive Mandarin Chinese classes, I soon developed a better speaking, reading, and writing command of the language while simultaneously appreciating my family’s heritage more deeply.
The meaning of place. The meaning of belonging.
As an Asian American who grew up in the midwest of the United States, I often just wanted to fit in. But I didn’t always feel like I belonged, no matter where I went. In the states, to Taiwan, it didn’t matter. There wasn’t a place for me.
Until I realized, that wherever I was, that is where I belonged.
The meaning of belonging and exploring oneself meant a lot to me. I was able to see my octogenarian grandparents in a different light that wasn’t always easy. When I was a kid, they could do no wrong. Living with them in my early 30s, I saw them as the humans they were.
And I bonded more deeply with them through the learning of our language.
- Learned Chinese to a high proficiency, making communicating with family members a more meaningful experience and it would also lead to my next career role in New York City
- Developed a deep sense of appreciation for my heritage and became closer with my grandparents in a multi-faceted manner
- Practiced my love of learning by immersing myself back in school, honing in on meaningful learning methods and building community with classmates
Career Break: The Meaning of Exchange
The Achievement: The cultivation of understanding different cultures and people has always been at the heart of who I am. Traveling to different parts of Asia allowed me to further understand the meaning of exchange in goods, in connection and how we are all interconnected.
Night markets in Taiwan. The food stalls of Vietnam. Exploring the clothing shops of the train station in Busan, Korea. Riding a double-decker train in Hong Kong driving straight through a food and flower market.
These different experiences of travel during my time in Taiwan were eye-opening and welcome. While witnessing the traditions in Hong Kong of people buying tangerines before Chinese New Year and conversing with merchant partners, I understood the meaning of significant exchange, of human connection.
While bargaining for the trendiest clothing at the Taipei clothing markets, I understood the meaning of quick rapport building, not to get the best deal but to find the best outcome for the merchant and myself.
While eating and shopping in South Korea, I saw that the exchange within markets was not only transactional but to find connection and provide meaning to individuals and their families and friends. Why eat at a noodle shop? Sustenance, yes. But also to establish connections with a go-to spot or meet with your friends to chat about life’s hardships.
While enjoying fruit smoothies in Vietnam, I saw that the shop owners constantly moved and grooved their outdoor chairs, configuring them in optimal positions to attract new customers and service their existing customers.
It was not just a life study, but a study in the nature of humans, applicable to business settings.
- Increased knowledge of different regions, countries and people and understood their lifestyle habits
- Expanded the mind by experiencing new places and seeing how people fundamentally want to build rapport and connection
China’s #3 e-tailer VIP.com (2017-2019)
Alibaba. JD.com. You’ve likely heard of those conglomerates in the Chinese marketplace. Bigger than Amazon in China!
And VIP.com, while perhaps lesser known in the western world, is a household name in all of China, reaching all tiers of cities.
I took on the role of recruiting USA fashion brands to sell on VIP.com’s e-commerce site, a site serving 300 million loyal customers. [Check it out here: website + wikipedia.]
After studying one year of Chinese, I was equipped to exercise my buying and planning capabilities to develop new business for the Chinese consumer, while hopping from vendor to potential business partner in the great New York City, a place where I had frequented almost monthly while working at Kohl’s Department Stores.
Pitching to well-known USA brands to sell on an e-commerce website they had never heard of was not easy.
But through client development, through trade shows, exhibitions and hosting forums, I was able to recruit 26 brands for launch on the website and app, from the initial pitch to legal contract process to the product selection to coordinating the web page design to working with operations on the fulfillment of goods all the way to product launch.
China’s VIP.com: Navigating the Last Mile to Deliver Packages
The Achievement: During a trip to Guangzhou, China in the Guangdong Province at the company headquarters, we were split up into groups and successfully delivered packages to our actual customers. It was a first-hand experience that I’ll never forget.
The Lesson: On a training trip to our company headquarters, we partnered with team members from our global offices, were put into groups and delivered actual orders to our actual customers on a Saturday. Seeing just how the bicycles, mini trucks and fulfillers traveling on foot delivered a package from a warehouse to a delivery point to the customer’s actual home was a valuable experience. The “last mile” in China is a concept one must see for themselves in person.
- Understood the delivery network from warehouse to doorstep and that the customer delivery experience makes all the difference – speed, reliability and accuracy!
- Connected with the customers through conversations and interviews on what products they would like to see sold: one customer talked about how her friends often traveled to Hong Kong to buy international goods but others wanted to see more international goods available!
- Experienced real-life delivery by partnering with fulfillers, understanding the importance of the shipping and logistics network
China’s VIP.com: The Pricing Hat
The Achievement: While recruiting USA brands to sell products to China, I learned the art of describing partnerships in steps to take others on a manageable yet inspirational journey. When it came to pricing, established USA brands did not want to participate in high-low pricing. How did I conquer this hurdle?
The Lesson: 50% off. 60% off. 70% off. Music to the average Chinese consumer shopping on one of their go-to sites.
50% off. 60% off. 70% off. A nightmare to a USA brand’s identity. A liability. A markdown. A brand dilution.
How could two pricing cadences evoke such different philosophies?
While yes, one is consumer-focused and the other brand-focused, one thing to know while operating with a different consumer is the mindset of that consumer.
For the average consumer in China, getting a deal on goods means something. It’s part of the very identity of who they are, how they think and what they’re accustomed to. So while the president of a major USA brand said to me, “We don’t offer goods at high-low pricing,” I countered and aligned, “In China, this is the norm. They start with this type of pricing as a basis. They’re shopping a different landscape. You can go on a website with luxury goods and off-price goods. They mix. We don’t. But it’s not wrong. You just have to think if it’s something you’re willing to offer, in a different market, separate from the USA.”
- Influenced the USA market to see that the Chinese market is a different entity and encouraged brands to throw away the notions they knew about American consumers in order to be open-minded to understanding the Chinese consumer
- Recruited a record number of brands for the company through painting the picture and disspelling their own beliefs and myths about working with China
- Built a bridge in terms of USA brands and what partnering with VIP.com could mean for them
China’s VIP.com: A Spotlight in Body Magazine
The Achievement: I was published in Body Magazine in July 2018, discussing the intimate apparel, sleep and athleisure opportunity in China after meeting the magazine’s Associate Publisher.
The Opportunity: I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Body Magazine’s Associate Publisher to discuss the opportunities of working with the company in the intimate apparel category. It was an opportunity to illustrate the differences and trends of the Chinese consumer and spotlight how brands could work with us.
- Created dialogue on the Chinese consumer in the areas of intimate apparel, sleepwear and athleisure
- Was published in the USA’s intimate apparel TRADE magazine, Body Magazine, July 2018 issue, pages 38-40 [Click here and go to pg. 38]
- Built awareness for the company in the USA market and generated interest in the New York City area amongst the vendor community
Perfect Corp Beauty Tech (2019)
Not sure what shade of lipstick to wear on a first date?
Grab your phone and test out 10 shades virtually right on your face, on the screen, from the comfort of your own home!
Fuchsia pink? Nah. A velvety crimson red? Nah.
The cheekiest pinky shade of coral. That’s it!
When AI + AR technology meets the beauty industry, you get Perfect Corp. You get the leading SaaS provider for makeup conglomerates and brands alike.
You get those kiosks where customers can test out makeup before they buy. You get the website “try-on” button opening up to a camera or the option to choose a photo to see just how that particular shade of makeup looks…on you!
As Deputy Director of Business Development at Perfect Corp, I worked with some of the industry’s biggest players in launching makeup and hair color try-on to build out solutions for their omni-channel needs.
Try-on leads to conversion leads to sales.
Cutting-edge technology allows for the consumer to try-on makeup without ever opening the product. Score!
Beauty Tech Startup: Launching Virtual Makeup Try-on Technology
The Achievement: In less than 6 months, I secured revenue contracts and launched virtual makeup try-on programs for a few of the leading makeup brands in the industry!
The Project: Bobbi Brown is known for her makeup skills in enhancing the natural beauty of a person. I was quickly able to partner with the Bobbi Brown team and my project manager to work on a UI/UX proposal to build website and app makeup try-on capabilities.
Colored contact lenses. This was the focal point for Johnson & Johnson’s Acuvue brand, where I worked in conjunction with the Singapore teams to deliver a custom contact lens and makeup try-on for their Asian markets.
- Worked with enowned industry giants to launch virtual try-on services for their customers
- Launched 300+ SKUS available for virtual try-on via Bobbi’s Brown’s website and app including eyeshadow, lipstick and other face categories
- Conferenced and built rapport with Taipei headquarters and Johnson & Johnson’s Singapore teams
- Drove revenue results very quickly with the company, delivering on the contract SOW and technology launch timeline
Beauty Tech Startup: Influencing the Product Road Map
The Achievement: With our engineering and research & development teams in Taipei, I collaborated regularly with team members to impact the product roadmap, making suggestions for hair color try-on based on client requests.
The Lesson: Because the technology for makeup try-on is ever-evolving and clients asked for solutions to fit their specific needs, it was important to have robust discussions and provide pitch material to our internal teams for prioritization of the product roadmap. In one instance, a prospective client was looking to showcase ombre hair dye products with a consumer’s natural hair root color, a technology that was not yet in the arsenal. I put together a new functionality proposal powerpoint that went straight to the President for approval.
- Aligned product roadmap availability timeline for new hair try-on technology to suit a propsective client’s need in order for them to test our technology
- Garnered more focus on hair try-on technology that led to the sharing of other capabilities, such as metallic hair and dual-chrome hair try-on
- Connected further with team members, the GM of Business Development and the President herself to build credibility as a then new member of the team
Pre-Australia Transition (2020)
In 2020, I decided to redirect my priorities to focus on health, wellness and prepare for a move to Australia at the beginning of 2021. In this time, I worked on personal projects including pursuing my own creative writing series, creating artwork via painting and actively downsizing my closet via marketplace apps and reselling venues. All of these activities involved utilizing my skills as a merchant, being innovative and learning new ropes. I loved diving into different areas to exercise different areas of my brain!
Pre-Australia: Becoming a 5-Star Seller on Poshmark
The Achievement: In four months, I sold 150+ individual items on the popular fashion reselling app, Poshmark, and grew to become a top-rated 5-star seller.
The Project: A small shoebox apartment in New York City. Didn’t matter – I still had…a lot of clothes, bags, shoes…
How did they all fit?
Did I need all of these things?
How could I possibly pack everything for Australia? I couldn’t. And so I downsized.
From taking product images that appealed to writing captivating descriptions to understanding the art of pricing and making offers to prospective buyers to joining the Poshmark parties at the right moments, I sold my belongings down, one at a time, as a merchant who studied the behaviors of this new customer base. I became a top-rated 5-star seller and loved the feedback I received. Running this marketplace project had become a side hustle!
- Downsized 150+ items out of my closet in preparation for a move to Australia from NYC
- Built rapport with a community of buyers with repeat customers returning due to a positive experience
- Shipped and packaged all of my sales by myself, running to the post office to deliver orders in a timely manner
- Grew from zero to 17k followers of my closet in the marketplace, understanding the community of buyers from a seller’s perspective
Pre-Australia Prep: Authoring 21 Stuffed Animal Stories
The Achievement: While downsizing my belongings in preparation for a move to Australia from New York City, I engaged in a creative writing series for 21 days that drew interest from friends and new audiences.
The Project: As someone who was downsizing my belongings aggressively to prepare for a move to Australia, I knew there was one category of items that I simply could not downsize. That of the stuffed animal. I had 21 stuffed animals in the apartment that I absolutely loved and could never imagine selling or donating. And so, while deciding which fashion items I’d downsize, I wrote a story per day to introduce each of my stuffed animals. Why, you ask? Because it was a creative outlet that inspired me. It was my way to say goodbye to a city I loved dearly. It was a capstone project that allowed me to process my feelings of letting go while holding onto what mattered the most.
- Solicited feedback from my friends and new audience members who read my stories to also help me decide which fashion items to keep or not keep, generating feedback and engagement
- Wrote 21 short stories about 21 stuffed animals with different personalities during a time where the pandemic was continually to impact many, bringing a moment of escape and joy to my audience. Read the first story here!
- Processed the emotions of letting go of my favorite fashion items through wearing them in some of my favorite New York City locations
- Inspired myself and others through a creative work that was very Christina and very unique to myself
Pre-Australia Prep: Painting as a Pasttime
The Achievement: During the height of the pandemic and pre-Australia move, I painted a number of acrylic and watercolor paintings on canvas. It was therapeutic, allowed for an outlet in creativity and brought joy and inspiration to others.
Check out some of my works!
- Fostered creativity in an unprecedented global pandemic environment
- Provided joy, comfort and inspiration to friends and family alike
- Explored my artistic side that drives my heart to dream
- Connected to an expanded community and engaged with friends and new audiences who took interest in my paintings, fostering discussion and connectivity
What are my future aspirations?
I’m continually looking for inspiration and the ability to create, to be able to deliver to consumer experiences in a way that brings joy to their lives. All of the hats I’ve been able to wear throughout my professional and personal life have been fruitful and taught me something new.
I’m a striver, a dreamer, an innovator at heart.
I love to learn, to mentor others and am always on the lookout for innovative solutions within business.
Come join me on my journey and adventure moving forward!