2023 Women in Print and Promo: Valerie Varela, TriDri & The Artisan Collection by Reprime
Valerie Varela has only worked in promo for four years, but, according to her nominator, she has already “taken the industry by storm.” Not only has she introduced top European brands into the U.S. marketplace, she is loved by colleagues and industry peers alike. “Valerie is great at creating personal bonds and lasting relationships,” her nominator says.
Her professional background is in finance, so how did she get here? Varela was working as an underwriter/financial analyst for Flash Advance, a provider of merchant cash advances to businesses around the country. Her fiancé, who was already a part of the promo community, invited Varela as his guest to PPAI’s annual trade show in Las Vegas. Varela was immediately drawn to the energy in the atmosphere, the motivated salespeople, and the fun products she saw while walking the exhibit halls.
“It felt like a calling,” she says. “I knew it was time to change careers.”
Varela landed a job with UK-based Premier Workwear, a company that has earned an impressive reputation as Europe’s leading supplier of uniforms. Varela saw an opening for two of its brands in the U.S. market and was instrumental in introducing them to American consumers. The first was The Artisan Collection by Reprime, a well-established brand focusing on creating trendsetting styles — including aprons, Chefswear, and workwear — for the hospitality vertical. Prior to its U.S. debut, Artisan distributed its apparel to 16 countries across Europe.
Approximately two years ago, Varela added the athleisure brand TriDi to her sales portfolio. Both brands are sold by Trevose, Pennsylvania-headquartered alphabroder | Prime Line, the No. 1 ranked supplier on Print+Promo Marketing’s 2022 Top Suppliers list.
Varela is also proud of a side project she participated in when the pandemic initially hit. Together, with California-based Massive Prints, the team manufactured and distributed masks to ASI companies.
What’s next for Varela? We’ll have to wait and see what this “rising star” has planned.
Her Proudest Career Achievement
Introducing two European brands to the U.S. It is exciting seeing something from the early stages develop into standard everyday industry brands.
How Failure Taught Her Resiliency
I play in a tennis league, and I should’ve won a match but instead got completely smoked. I played for over three hours in the hot Florida sun. I lost, I was exhausted, I failed. I went home feeling like I let down my team and myself. In the game of tennis, the score of zero is called “love” because it is said that those with zero points would still play for the “love of the game.” I gave it my all in that match and I know I’m a better player for it. In my opinion, failing is one of the best ways to build your resilience. It makes you aware that you are placing yourself in challenging situations, and that’s where you can get big gains. So, be prepared to fail and learn as much as you can from the process.
Her Most Significant Barrier as a Female Leader
Breaking into a male-dominated network and establishing credibility in this competitive market has been the toughest. I have to say that this challenge is not unique to the promo industry and faced by women in many industries, as I also faced this same challenge in finance. However, as a leader of my industry, addressing these challenges and promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace will lead to a more equitable and successful industry for everyone.
How She Thinks Companies Can Attract and Retain Female Talent
Flexibility with schedules to be able to balance work and family responsibilities, as this industry often requires long hours and travel.
Her Job Advice to Women
I highly recommend [joining the industry]. Not only are there many opportunities out there, but I’ve found ways to express my creative mind through marketing, social media, trade shows, hosted buyer events, etc.
Her Upcoming Goals
Ideally, I would want every print and promo customer in the USA to have heard about our brands.
How She Recharges
I love playing a game of pickleball with friends, or taking a hot yoga class to recharge and refresh.