2022 Honorees

NJ Falk

Managing Partner

“Because change is a constant, I think the key 2022 trend is the ability to be nimble and adapt.”


Tell us about where you work and what you do there.

I am a multiple Webby, Davey, and Communicator award-winning creative, serial entrepreneur, journalist, and the Managing Partner of APL (Athletic Propulsion Labs), the Los Angeles-based women’s and men’s athletic footwear brand which sits at the intersection of performance and luxury. My role encompasses managing key segments of our business from our eCommerce, retail, operations, and customer service initiatives to working closely with our incredible team as part of our ongoing product development, branding, marketing, social, and public relations efforts that are unified in the pursuit of innovation and excellence in all we do together.

How would you describe yourself?

I am passionate about my work and how APL can continually innovate to deliver the optimum customer-centric experience, including always being on the hunt for the newest alpha or beta that can move our business forward. As a result, being active and engaged is at the core of everything I do. It’s no surprise as part of my LA lifestyle I am an avid runner (in either our APL TechLoom Waves or Streamline running shoes), love all kinds of sports especially skiing, am deeply involved in the fashion world and a Co-Founder & Chief Mentorpreneur™ (a term I trademarked) at The Forward Female, which is a consulting and creative agency for female entrepreneurs.

I also juggle my roles as an angel investor, mentor, and strategic advisor for female-focused luxury and consumer brands including Modern Picnic, DEMARSON, 11 Honoré, Artha, Bumo Work, The FLOORR, and The Bunker, as my way of giving back. I try and do it all with a bit of élan, a steady stream of lattes and a great “Chill Out” playlist.

What is your leadership style?

My leadership style is done through mentorship. I try to set an example through my own demonstrable hard work (including being very detail-oriented without micromanaging) and providing open communication that welcomes a productive dialogue. I combine this with practical, actionable, and empathic advice. As part of this approach, as a team we mutually agree upon goals (on a quarterly and annual basis) which encourages everyone to learn, grow, and expand their skills sets while aligning with our overall business goals. The objective is for everyone to feel empowered to perform at their best, find the answers, share ideas, and excel while also furthering their knowledge base and career opportunities.

What do you think has been your biggest professional success so far?

A seminal career moment for me was winning a Webby Award (actually several) for my creative work as the Founder and Creative Director of my former branding, advertising, and digital agency as it was the culmination of me taking so many creative and business risks including leaving corporate life behind to follow my entrepreneurial dream. It also wasn’t just my success but a big win for my clients. However, I consider my ability to change, adapt and continually morph my skill set, including my journalistic career until recently as a Forbes Contributor with my column on highly actionable business and lifestyle advice, as one of my biggest professional achievements. Embracing change and hard work truly opens the door to professional success.

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What goals do you have for 2022?

I have some very exciting goals around enhancing our tech stack and the customer journey with a particular focus on multi-channel customer support and our entire eCommerce customer experience.

What do you think is the next big trend in eCommerce?

Because change is a constant, I think the key 2022 trend is the ability of a brand to be nimble, adapt, and roll out numerous emerging eCommerce trends simultaneously. A multi-pronged focus on backend technologies, deliveries as the key to keeping happy customers, highly maximized websites, international growth through flexible cross border solutions, voice search, multi-channel customer support, sustainability initiatives, AI-assisted upselling and cross selling, smarter mobile shopping tools, and conversational commerce will be some of the key trends we will see in the marketplace.

Name an eCommerce brand you admire and why.

Starface. From its inception in 2019 with a single SKU and the now iconic Big Yellow branding, Starface has made people rethink stigmas around breakouts by changing the conversation. In the process, they’ve delivered some of the most unique, engaging, and inclusive marketing and social media campaigns with products that have revolutionized the category.

What do you geek out over?

It’s a tie between being a total branding geek and happily obsessing over financial projections from detailed forecasting to our buys, CTRs, KPIs, ROAS, CVR to sell-throughs as well as fashion and color trends.