Episode 023 - Executive Vice-President of Leasing at Dallas Market Center, Eva Walsh

Bonus Episode - Tune In as Eva shares her experience working at big-name department stores like Gap and Macy's, which helped land her career at the Dallas Market Center, where she has been for nearly two decades. She has thrived in diverse roles encompassing both temporary and permanent leasing for the apparel industry, contributing to retail relations and fostering business development. Listen to hear insider tips and tricks for navigating the Dallas Market Center.

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Podcast Transcript

Taylor McAdams: You're listening to the Kick Your Boots Up podcast, where we swap stories of the West. Whether you're just waking up or getting in for the day, come on in and kick your boots up Hi there. And thanks for joining us for a special bonus episode of The Kinky Boots up podcast. We are here in Dallas, Texas at the Dallas Market Center for the Ouisa show happening this year. It's the Western and Englidh Sales Association. Lots to talk about here. But this this episode is dedicated to the Dallas Market Center and everything that they do to host the show while we're here, and who not who better to have on the podcast than none other than Eva Walsh, the Executive Vice President of leasing here at the Dallas Market Center. Eva, we're so so honored for you to take the time out of your busy day to be here. And we're just so thankful for everything that you do.

Eva Walsh: Well, thank you for having me. We love WESA, we love the whole western industry. And right now it's just in full swing.

Taylor McAdams:So we're really excited about it hit is in full swing, and you wear many hats throughout this week. And I can't wait to talk a little bit more about that later on in the podcast. But before we do, we got to set the stage a little bit and people out there are genuinely curious, tell us more about you and how you got started in this industry and how you got to where you are today.

Eva Walsh: Well, I started this industry obviously a long time ago. But I started out in retail. So I started in San Francisco working for the gap and also Macy's and loved every minute of it. And so I eventually got on the wholesale side and started working the Dallas Market Center. I've been here on and off for 20 years, I have a family of four kids. So sometimes took a little bit of time off. But it's great. So I love it.

Taylor McAdams:And you've mentioned gap and Macy's that's particularly interesting. They're very big name household names, what was it like getting your starting there and really big corporations.

Eva Walsh: It was interesting. So I helped launch Gap Kids in 1989 88 when I was there. So it was a lot of fun. And people love retail, and either you love it or hate it. And so I loved it. I loved this whole industry, both wholesale and retail. So

Taylor McAdams:it's a lot of fun. That is so inspiring. And hearing that you were able to be a part of the original group that created Gap Kids that's iconic, there's a lot to talk about there.

Eva Walsh: It was it was why was right out of college. So it was kind of a do whatever they needed to done. But we open to those stores. And it was really exciting. Everybody wanted to be part of the gang. So it was great. And that was there when they bought Banana Republic and made all those changes and added Old Navy. And there was a lot of a lot of fun. And I worked for Macy's also in San Francisco. And that was a lot of fun too. So return to my roots in Texas and started working for the Dallas Market Center.

Taylor McAdams:I'm so glad you ended up back in Texas. We're happy you're here. But I'm genuinely curious to tell us about how your degree and how you got to originally get to be at gap in the first place?

Eva Walsh: Well, I actually worked at the market center in a showroom when I was in college, and loved it and thought that was really exciting and use that experience on my resume and got a job that the gap. And they were just launching a lot of new divisions. And so that's how I got started.

Taylor McAdams:But fast, long time ago and a lot of fun. Oh, yeah. And there's a lot of people out there that especially in the Western industry, our industry that start at the bottom and work their way up. And we're firm believers of that. And I think it's so cool that you can that you actually have the opportunity to do that is

Eva Walsh: I mean, I think it's important because when you're managing a team, or a group or an industry, you've got to know what their experience is like and what they're doing what they're seeing every day, you know, and what a store manager actually does. You know, it's not all just managing from behind the scenes, you're sweeping and doing whatever else filling shelves and waxing the raw, and everything else that we do, as far as retail goes. So it's a lot of fun.

Taylor McAdams:Oh, yeah. And that's just I'm Wow, I've got to take a moment to live there for a second because when you mentioned waxing, those are the rock. Yeah, all the fun stuff. That's I mean, throwing away the trash taking it out.

Eva Walsh: You've been doing it there, right and working with somebody doesn't show up. And you know, but if you love retailing, you love product, which is what I do. I mean, I love product, I love looking at new product, product and how it changes. And so I think that makes it you know, either you're kind of a merchant where you love it or not. And so I loved it. And it's not like work to me, you know, I feel like when I'm looking at new things and shopping, you know, I love to shop and we used to go to New York and shop for a full day on Saturday, you know, before we started our appointments, and I think that that's important, you know, you have to love that industry during the Western industry. You got to love that lifestyle. You can't just sell boots and not be a part of it. You know, so I think that's important.

Taylor McAdams:Very well said and along those same lines. What is some advice that you'd like to give to someone that was in your shoes at one time? Maybe they're just here at Dallas Market Center working in a showroom or maybe they're out an actual retailer working on the sales floor? What's what's your advice for them?

Eva Walsh: I think you know, find a Um, something that you love doing every day, you know, if you love doing it, it's not like work. And we have a lot of people that go from retail to wholesale and back and forth. They'll probably figure out what they like most. But I think it's just staying in that industry and maybe find me fine tuning. You know what works best for them. But you know, we have job postings all the time. If I get a resume that I think is a fit for another retailer, or somebody else, always Ford it. So I think just staying connected, there's a something called Fashion group, and they have some big group in Dallas, and a lot of people are a part of that. And so I think all those little connections help.

Taylor McAdams:They really do. And that's really a huge reason why any of us are here, we've got all that started somewhere with either a passion or some of that reach out their hand and helped along the way. Yeah, I appreciate you telling Maura and I appreciate you telling your story, because a lot of people don't get to hear that. So thank you for Yeah, start at the very bottom, like and a lot of fun. And how many years? Do you think that it took you over time because you probably did some internships in college.

Eva Walsh: Back then we didn't have internships. But we did work over the summer. And I'm always stayed in retail. So it was, but you know, I love that. I love that piece of it. And I think that that's a passion that people have. I mean, we're in a we're in Justin's showroom. So it's Western, and either you live this lifestyle or you don't and if you do, it's part of your DNA. You know, I think that that's critical.

Taylor McAdams:It really isn't. I love that your passion for shopping shines through today shopping in New York that is iconic. So I guess a little bit about that, because you couldn't have the Dallas Market Center. If there wasn't Shafi? No, it was a little bit about the Dallas market. So

Eva Walsh: now there are a lot of trade shows. So if we're prospecting for manufacturers to come and take space at the Dallas Market Center, we go to trade shows and we prospect there and talk to people and see how their what their business is and their business model. And if it makes sense for them to have a space in Dallas or a temporary space in Dallas either way. And we're also always looking at like nowadays, you look on Instagram for new brands that are trending that are popular. And then we reach out find a contact and see if we can, you know, they can work with us. So, and then retailers we find retailers online, we find them in publications and through different, you know, word of mouth. And you know, we invite them to Dallas. So we're always trying to grow retailer in manufacture butter.

Taylor McAdams:I love that your job is like a sales to the sales. Mix is I love that that facet of it. But also kind of talking more about the Dallas Market Center. You mentioned the retailers, there's all kinds of businesses here, there's there's floors and floors and floors, if you've never been able to come to the Dallas Market Center, I encourage you to start a business get your way in here. Yes,

Eva Walsh: they have a lot of young people that just start out something online, something they love, just you know, selling can be something really small. But we love artists, and you've got to start somewhere, you know. And so we have the pleasure of seeing companies start very small, and growing into something wonderful. So, but we're a little over 5 million square feet. And we have tradeshow space. And we have permanent showrooms. And we have all industries from Home and Gift and floral. And my say apparel meaning like men's, women's and children's in western, we have jewelry we have caching carry, you know, we have designed we have beautiful showrooms that have beautiful design product, and we have floors and floors of lighting, you know, that's a huge, huge industry. And you wouldn't know that, you know, from looking on the outside, we are only open to the trade. So you can't come in as a consumer. But that's just to protect the retailers who are here, you know, making living and shopping so, but we do give tours. So if somebody's interested, they can always reach out to us for a tour. But what's great is that you can see like, if you were to see this Justin showroom, you see what's coming out what's new. And then you know, six months later, you go in the store and you see it and that's really exciting. You know, it's like, oh my gosh, I saw that before it even came out saying.

Taylor McAdams:I love that you said that Eva because that's exactly what I was about to say that everyone out there gets to kind of start telling their retailers or their favorite boutiques wherever they shop, kind of what they want based on the trends based on what they're seeing based on prices even. And that's what's so unique about the Dallas Market Center is it's all here, whatever you want to have, you're walking to the car every day while we're just here for this show. We walk through stores and stores and stores of Christmas and it kind of gets you in the Spirit. It does get you ready for the holidays and getting to see like perfumes and jewelry, the sky's the limit just like you said,

Eva Walsh: there's a little bit of everything in all price ranges from you know, wholesale diamonds, you know, to $2 earrings, you know, we've got a little bit of everything. So it's it's really exciting. We have a cash and carry floor. And that's really for retailers who are not sure if they want to buy something and place a big order that they can take, you know, seven or eight pieces of something and take it home with them and so that works really well for different types of retailers. And we also have, you know, really high end design, beautiful furniture and design products that are just, you know, out of this world, you, you won't like anything in your house, once you go through those showrooms. I'm like, it's beautiful. But the same way with peril and Western and, you know, all the industries, there's just so much to see. And I think retail, no matter what it is, is a really important part of America. You know, everybody loves to shop and have a coffee and go Christmas time. And, you know, it's it's important, it's important, we also have toy, I was thinking about Christmas, we've got lots of toys, so we usually see those things before they hit the Christmas market. So that's a lot of fun too.

Taylor McAdams:it is and you mentioned that it's something fun to do here in America. And that's a very, very good point, there's a lot of people that come from all around the world, just to be here to experience their whatever show they attend that week. That's exactly right. What does it mean to you to then be a part of something that is so so big, and you get to kind of have a bird's eye view watching it here at the top? What's that, like?

Eva Walsh: Well, you know, you're busy, like, like Justin is, you know, every day, you know, developing and creating things, and this is what we're going to do, who's going to be entertaining, what products is going to be sold, you know, that type of thing. And you do a lot of planning, and then the doors open, and it's like Christmas, you know, everybody comes in, and it's really exciting. And you do events, even in the evening, and a lot of fun. And then you go home, and it's over for, for Western, I think it's, you know, six months in between, you know, a big line breaks, but it's really exciting, you kind of go off, and then you start again, you know, so

Taylor McAdams:And do you ever get overwhelmed or or any, you know, you're going all the time, because we're just here for a period of time, and then a new show will move in, and then just it just continues on and on. So do you ever get tired?

Eva Walsh: No, I mean, I think you you do have downtime, you know, in between your planning, but I think it's kind of like, it's almost like, you're just so excited about it and inspired by product. And, you know, when I walk through and see what, you know, new lines people have and how they've tweaked things and made it better. And you know, it's always exciting to see that. And I think, the same way, you know, maybe Christmas never gets tired, you know, of shopping, you know, I think that that's what this is you have to love it. And you, you want it to get better every time. So

Taylor McAdams:Oh, without a doubt. And I can tell you, like I've mentioned before your passion is there. And that's what I think keeps you going right? Like it?

Eva Walsh: Yes, it does. I think that for anybody I you know, always encourage people to do what you love. And it won't feel like work. That's really exciting. And, you know, I've met a lot of people from Justin. And I think we're all very passionate about it. And, you know, we're exciting. So.

Taylor McAdams:And one thing too, that I can't not mention is the fashion show that happens probably pretty often, but particularly the show we sell that we're at, tell us about that, because it's open to the public people actually get to come.

Eva Walsh: So it is. So that's on the first floor of the World Trade Center. And we actually show the product that's in the building at the time. So we've got creative director that goes in there and you know, pulls all the product and you don't it's not a fashion show that you pay to be in it's truly trend. So it's very trend focused. So we have one for Western, we have one for contemporary, we do five times, every every market. And during Western markets, we have two shows. One is Western and one is contemporary. So it's an actually we've added ADA to the Western one too. So the English side of horseriding. And so it's great. That's really the highlight everybody, you know, if you try to kill the fashion show, you know, you'll get a lot of feedback. So everybody loves the fashion show. It's a lot of fun. And it's interesting to see things on the runway and see how they take you know those boots and put, you know, a regular dress within doesn't have to be a Western dress and just see how that, you know, works out so

Taylor McAdams:Oh, yeah, and I'm sure every show here feels like New York Fashion Week. You know, like you're there you're sitting in the front row. I know a lot of the influencers were here taking pictures getting inspo and the outfits that were paired with just regular old cowboy boots, just riding boots, no fashion victory, they would put it just stunning the amount of time that the team puts in there. So that's incredible to see to it. That's probably like a full time job for them.

Eva Walsh: Well, I think if you look at Western, it's like the hottest trend in America. I mean, who's not wearing something Western, even if you don't, you know, if it's not your lifestyle, you can still have a jacket with fringe and you got a handbag that's got like some fur and you know, everybody wants a pair of boots and a hat and everyone my team wears hats during Western market and so it's great though it's it's a wonderful, wonderful industry, but it's also a wonderful trend. It really is a lifestyle. I mean, you know, you can watch all the Western shows and you love all the outdoors and the feel of it. And, you know, even when I look at walk in here and see all the photography and all the beautiful, you know, landscape and everything else that you guys have here, it looks right.

Taylor McAdams:It really does and you know it's really incredible to see the everyone come together. and really put on such a big event. It's not like you mentioned your team earlier, let's talk about what it takes to put on this market or the next market or really just run the Dallas Market Center.

Eva Walsh: Well, Cindy Morris who's our president CEO, and has been here for over 30 years, she started out in marketing and I started out leasing and we used to go to New York together, and she would sell the marketing piece and I'd sell the, the real estate piece of it. And it's, it's a lot of fun. But, um, we've got marketing teams, we have leasing teams, or sales teams, you know, but we've got, you know, every bit of it's important, it's from security. We had yesterday, men on horseback, you know, patrolling the parking lots and so all that's important, you know, operations and, you know, making sure everything housekeeping, everything is clean, and all that's important, and it's just important, it's important for retailers and manufacturers. So I think all that goes into it, but it's a big, big family, you know, so we all get it's like Christmas and nearby, take some day or two off and then we start again, every week.

Taylor McAdams:That's what keeps it so fun. And before we go or Alyssa time you but I've got to know do you have any kind of insider tips and tricks on how to maneuver Dallas Market Center it's so big,

Eva Walsh: I do so sometimes will walk my phone will show me that I've walked like seven miles that day. So if you wear heels one day, you'll probably be in sneakers the next or flats or boots or whatever, you know, got to change your shoes. It's important to carry a small handbag nothing with a big shoulder that's gonna you know weigh you down. Water Bottle always said my water bottle with me and enjoy it. You know, just get to look around and and it's important to look everywhere and to see no matter what hallway it is, just to see what's new, because that's, that's what's important. That's what retail is.

Taylor McAdams:It really is and I think you've painted the picture beautifully here at the Dallas Market Center. I'm so intrigued. I know I've learned a lot I hope a lot of people out there have to thank you again.

Eva Walsh: Take nature for having we love Justin We're so happy you guys are here. So thank you so much.

Taylor McAdams:This has been fun. Eva. Thank you Ben. Have a great day.