WIN Spotlight: Esther Kent
Welcome to the latest “WIN Spotlight,” our ongoing series that celebrates inspirational women in our community. Each interview features a member of WIN who is championing innovation at her organization. We dig into the diverse perspectives, influencers, missions, drivers, and dreams of these leaders, and of course, share practical tips.
We’re excited to feature our friend Esther Kent, Senior Strategist at Redscout and WIN Ambassador — she and the team at Redscout recently hosted a really valuable event on mentorship in NYC. We met for coffee in NoHo on a warm end-of-spring morning. Enjoy!
Who are you and what do you do?
I work at Redscout, a brand strategy and design consultancy based in New York and LA. I’m originally from London but moved to the US in 2017 to escape Brexit and experience summer for the first time. At Redscout, I’ve been lucky enough to work across an array of categories — from beauty and fashion to tech and hospitality. I love the variety of the job and how much I learn during each new project, whether that's through ethnographic research, category deep dives or client collaboration.
What is your advice for any woman in innovation?
I only realized this recently but there isn’t a ‘right way’ to get work done. I remember someone at my first job out of college telling me I was tracking my to do list wrong. It’s such a stupid tiny example but I feel like this happens all the time in more important moments. Obviously working in a team requires compromise and collaboration, but don’t let one person set the rules if there’s a different way that works for you.
If you had to choose one, who is the woman that most inspires you? Why?
The writer and illustrator Judith Kerr. She wrote ‘When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit’, the first book I remember truly falling in love with and I’ve been fascinated by her life ever since. Kerr fled Berlin as a child just before the outbreak of the war and wound up in London by way of Switzerland and France. She only started writing in her 40s as her children were learning to read (she talks about writing the ‘Out of the Hitler Time’ trilogy in response to her son watching ‘The Sound of Music’ and saying he now understood what her experience of the war was like), but her work ethic was incredible and, even in her final years, she was giving interviews and publishing books.
What is your favorite app and why?
ClassPass. We broke up for a bit because I was an early adopter and grew VERY upset when they changed their business model. But I’m not very good at self-motivation and had to forgive them so I could return to classes. I love that I can use my credits when traveling and the fact that they let you invite friends along for free.
What do you never leave the house without and why?
My Muji foldable umbrella because I’m a rain-ready Brit. It’s honestly one of my favorite possessions and I often advertise it to people like a walking infomercial. It has a special reverse folding system so it collapses into itself and doesn’t get anything wet. I wish I could say something cooler but the foldable umbrella wins.
What is the last book you read and why?
‘The Sisterhood’ by Daisy Buchanan. It’s a really great account of Daisy growing up as the eldest of six sisters and the wonderful mix of kindness and cruelty that only sisters can channel. It’s sort of like ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’ except set in a Catholic household in rural England…I’m the third of four sisters so could relate to a lot of the anecdotes, especially this line: “My sisters are the only women I would ever kill for. And they are the only women I have ever wanted to kill.”
What is your favorite podcast and why?
‘Table Manners with Jessie Ware’. I feel like it’s the perfect antidote to a sardine-packed subway. The premise is pretty simple — the singer Jessie Ware and her mom Lenny cook a meal at home and then invite a notable person around to be interviewed. It’s really just an immense celebration of food and the power it has to bring people together. I love eating so appreciate the opportunity to hear meals described even when I’m not involved.
Name a fundamental human truth you recently realized.
Everyone is worried they’re not smart enough. So you might as well throw your ideas out there and don’t bother undermining them with ‘this is probably wrong but…’ or ‘I’m not sure but…’.
What product, service, or industry do you think is most ripe for innovation? Why?
The wedding industry. So many parts of it. The way people assume men don’t care about the planning. The fact that the most expensive dress you will buy is one you will likely never wear again. The mark up on everyyyything.
Social media is clearly putting pressure on couples to spend more and more to achieve the picture-perfect day (see Priyanka and Nick) but, as the Instagram aesthetic declines, I’m interested to see if the pendulum will start to swing the other way.
What is your favorite quotation?
‘It’s nice to be important, but it’s important to be nice.’ My sister used to say this a lot when we were younger. Usually while she was pulling my hair.
Photos & interview done by Katie Burwick
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