Western & English Today


W&E Today provides retailers and manufacturers with education and ideas that provoke innovation in the Western and English markets.

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44 Western & English Today PHOTOGRAPHY: AM Y K AY E S A N D L I N P H OTO G R A P H Y/CO U R T E S Y B R E N DA VA N N E W K I R K As a retailer, designer, salesperson, and marketing guru, Brenda Van Newkirk has worn many hats. Before she puts on another in her new role at Justin Boots, she shares some vital lessons learned throughout three decades of working for Miller International and the keys to success in the Western fashion industry. by Lindsay Whelchel R ecall many of the most iconic styles or brands in the modern history of the Western fashion industry, and it's likely you'll learn that Brenda Van Newkirk was somehow involved. e entrepreneur, fashion designer, marketer, and sales woman be- gan her storied career as a Western retailer in 1973, when she and a partner purchased their own store. By 1983, she had gotten involved selling Rocky Mountain jeans as a dealer across the country. It was word of mouth, and likely her ability to connect with people, that led to Van Newkirk's success and eventually a job working directly with Miller In- ternational, Inc., the parent company of Rocky Mountain Clothing. For the next 30 years, Van Newkirk was involved in multiple la- bel launches, including Cinch and Cruel Girl. "Within my sales career, I worked with design and promotion in marketing and pioneering new products and truly enjoyed being instrumental with helping the accounts of our company to take a message on to the consumer," Van Newkirk says. at meant she was a familiar face at the many major events of the Western world that Miller International was involved with, such as the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo or the American Quarter Horse Congress and World Show, national cutting, reining and rop- ing events, and junior and high school rodeo. rough it all, she says her goal was, "being a good ambassador for the company. [at's] what I tried to do all the time." Now, aer retiring from Miller International, Van Newkirk is carrying on that mission with her new venture as the vice president of sales and development, specialty brands, at Justin Brands. We sat down with her to talk about her long career and what she's learned in the Western fashion industry. MILLER'S JEAN MAVEN

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