Kim Esson talks about how she found her way into the promotional products industry and how she fulfills the needs of her customers by staying ahead of the curve!
Tell me a little bit about yourself, where are you from?
I grew up in Houston, Texas predominantly. My family lived overseas in London for about three years when I was a small child from the ages of five to seven. But apart from that, I am Texas-born-and-raised.
What are your hobbies or personal interests?
I love to cook, read, and work out. Over the last year, for the first time in my life, I have taken up running. I use that term loosely, but I am trying!
What professional goals do you set for yourself and how do you achieve them?
I try to always be aware of the latest technology, trends and products in our industry. I want to know what my customer needs before they know―so that I can anticipate potential growth areas for them. I am constantly working with suppliers and our technology department to educate myself so that I’m able to work with my customers to fulfill their goals.
What is your secret to building relationships with your clients?
I think it is simply about listening and observing. I am not a big fan of talking “at” my clients so much as throwing out a couple of discovery questions then sitting and listening to the conversation that comes from that. Then I am able to design the perfect solution for their promotion, their needs, their online store, or whatever it may be.
Again and again in this industry, we constantly hear people say that no one listened to them. People are usually not given what they need because they were not listened to in the first place.
How did you get into the promotional products business?
I started off as a print producer for the first fifteen years of my career. I worked for companies like Fossil and at agencies handling clients such as McDonald’s and Oldsmobile. After that I went freelance and worked for a company called Nouveau Eyewear, where I handled all the tradeshows domestically and internationally. I also managed their creative team and new client onboarding for ten years. However, when the company was bought out, they eliminated the marketing and sales teams.
After Nouveau, I built a promotional products program for a vendor who I had been working with since I started my career. They were family-owned and after 18 months, I realized that it was not a great fit for me. I knew I wanted to be somewhere where my customers and I could grow together.
Noel Garcia was my Boundless rep at Nouveau for over eight years. We worked on a lot of “gifts with purchase” projects within Nouveau for Nickelodeon, Christie Brinkley, Kay Unger and others. I reached out to Noel about moving to Boundless and quickly realized it was a great decision. Boundless was just what I was looking for―a forward-thinking company with great technology but even better people! The technology that was of particular interest to me was GroupBuy™, Boundless’ order aggregation feature that is great for saving money on high-volume orders. I knew that given this emphasis on technology and a cutting-edge approach to the industry, my business could thrive with Boundless.
What is the best thing about working at Boundless?
I love the incredible flexibility of Boundless―their ability to change and adapt to the economy, growing technology needs, the way buyers shop, and take on new challenges! When Boundless closed a large nonprofit client this year, they asked me to take on the account. I was super excited about this adventure because it is a unique multi-market nonprofit that needs both a consumer and wholesale solution.
The organization’s unique situation has been a great opportunity for our technology team to come up with the perfectly tailored solution to serve their promotional marketing needs (no surprise there!). Boundless will allow the client to give all of their 100 nationwide affiliates access to one centralized platform (Portal) where buyers can shop for the products they need and stay on brand! The custom Portal Store we have built will give them access to hundreds of HQ-approved items, quarterly GroupBuy deals, and the ability to place custom orders, all from one easy-to-use online hub.
What has been the biggest game changer in the promotional products industry in your time as a sales team member?
I have to say technology, at least from within Boundless. There is just nothing else out there that can compare to our Portal technology. Portal is a platform where everyone in an organization can browse the latest products, share ideas, and get quotes. Everyone that has seen it loves it! And it enables me to have access to an amazing amount of products so that I can be sure to offer my clients the best variety possible. I would say Boundless technology has been a true game-changer.