Behind the Seams: Adventures in Apparel Sales with Kontoor’s Laura Ann McWhorter
Laura Ann McWhorter, Director of Sales at Kontoor Brands, has seen a lot of changes in her 25 years with the company. She first caught the fashion bug in high school on a trip to New York City with a North Carolina boutique owner. There, she got a firsthand look at fashion buying and even a fateful sign that this could be the career for her: sharing an elevator with fashion designer royalty Oscar de la Renta. “That was definitely the highlight of my trip,” she said. “I met so many interesting and creative people. It was an exciting and fun adventure at a young age.” Fast-forward to today and Laura is responsible for the Lee business in Walmart’s Menswear Category and leads the Walmart.com team for Lee, as well.
We caught up with Laura Ann to learn more about her career and the excitement that’s still to come.
How did you get started in sales at Lee and Wrangler?
My entry into sales came from a referral. At the time I held a position as a forecaster for the Wrangler Western business. A colleague recommended that I should interview for an assistant sales position on another major account. I had no idea at the time the position would lead to a career spanning a couple of decades working with major accounts in multiple categories and brands.
What’s your biggest highlight of your career to date?
The biggest highlight was the spinoff of VF Jeanswear to Kontoor Brands, which was an extraordinary event in our company’s history. It was an exciting time bringing the Lee and Wrangler brands together and working on a common mission to establish a new organization and develop new business opportunities.
Any advice to someone considering a career in apparel sales?
The quote “the only constant thing in life is change” is so true. With that in mind, embrace change, be adaptable, be open-minded, develop partnerships and explore possibilities.
What’s the best part about working at Kontoor Brands?
Kontoor’s culture is one of partnership and teamwork, where everyone has a voice. Early in my career I worked at several other apparel companies. None of them had the sense of team that Kontoor has. The culture at Kontoor is supportive, collaborative and trusting.
What’s in Laura Ann’s closet?
My favorite jeans are from the Lee European collection and for my husband, it’s Wrangler Retro Jeans. I also really enjoy seeing ATG by Wrangler in stores all over the world. It’s an exceptional product at a great value.