A Leap into Passion with Teri Ferguson Roth of Parajumpers
The Italian brand Parajumpers was born in 2006, thanks to the cooperation between Ape & Partners and designer Massimo Rossetti. This union was inspired by a meeting with a serving member of the 210th Rescue Squadron. Theses PJs (short for PARAJUMPERS) are highly trained for extreme rescues and recoveries in the wildest, most remote and hostile corners of the Globe. Whether it be ships adrift at sea, rock-climbers stuck atop a 4,000-meter peak, or submariners sunk at unimaginable depths, they called to intervene. Tough and courageous, they are better trained than any other military corps; but, most important, they use their skills and techniques to save lives. Their motto is ‘That Others May Live’.
In 2018, Teri Ferguson Roth was hired to lead brand development and US national sales, as its USA Sales Director. She has had a fantastic career doing what she loves, may it be at The Blue Agency; Flash and Partners, USA; or, the MTShowroom; and, now she is taking it to another level.
Editor-at-Large, D’angelo Thompson, spent some time with this innovative leader, learning about her journey to living a life of passion, purpose, and living. Enjoy!
DT: Teri, tell us how you ended up in sales for a high-end outerwear brand?
TFR: I have been in the fashion wholesale business for 19 years now, and have for the most part worked with Italian Collections. My first experience in technical outerwear was with Napapijri 17 years or so ago; and, since then, I have worked with many great Italian brands that have been strong in outerwear. My favorite part of working for a high-end outerwear brand is that a great jacket will be something that you use for a very long time –plus it comes along with you for some of your best adventures and becomes part of your journey and memories.
DT: What percentage of your job is travel? What are your favorite destinations?
TFR: I would say I travel about 30% of the time, sometimes more.
I manage the wholesale for the USA which requires a lot of time traveling in order to do the job right. I travel to our head office in Italy to preview our collections twice a year, we do 8 trade shows a year in the US, plus once we have goods in stores I travel to help support our retail partners in season and help give as much product knowledge to the sales teams as possible. I do love spending time in our stores (to get) to know our customers, and I am grateful to have wonderful friendships with store owners and buyers forged over these years in the fashion business.
DT: As a mother, how do you handle the work/life balance?
TFR: Being away from my kids is always hard. I miss them every time, no matter how many times I have done it. But, when I am away for work, I am lucky and grateful to have a very supportive husband who I know has everything handled at home. This allows me to fully focus on the work I am traveling to do. Once I am home and not in market season, I try as much as possible to disconnect from emails in the evenings (and weekends too); I can be completely present for my family. I do not always succeed in this, but I do try.
DT: Parajumpers is a family brand, how have they grown as a company through the years?
TFR: Our very first season Parajumpers had 3 men’s styles and 3 women’s, fast forward to 12 years later and we have over 100 styles in our collection. Those first styles are now called our “Masterpiece” styles and are still the heart and soul of Parajumpers. The family who owns Parajumpers are an incredible family who I am very lucky to call dear friends and whom I love working for. They are completely authentic and true to their vision for Parajumpers, and their passion for excellence shows in the high-quality product and attention to detail they deliver season after season.
It has all come full circle on a personal level for me this year as my nephew has just been accepted into the Parajumpers pararescue training (Air Force Special Forces), and our collection is inspired by these very heroes who put they lives on the line ‘so that others may live’- which is the Parajumpers motto.
DT: What feeds your soul or inspires you?
TFR: My family is my biggest source of life and joy. Giggles, snuggles, storytime, yoga, meditation, cooking, naps, running in the park – these are a few of my favorite things.
DT: Do you think being multi-lingual has helped you in business? Explain why.
TFR: Yes, for sure. I speak Spanish, Portuguese and some Japanese. I really should speak more Italian than I am brave enough to try, but I understand a lot. This has been very helpful in meetings when everyone starts speaking Italian and I can still keep up.
DT: What would you say to your younger 10-year-old self about life?
TFR: “It all goes so fast. So crazy fast! Enjoy every second as much as you possibly can. Every single breath is a gift.”
DT: Finish this sentence, “I am most grateful for…”
TFR: “…love, passion, focus, and hustle.”
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