Life & Love


This Woman’s Work” is an ongoing series meant to highlight how women in different industries are living their lives. We hope to show that there’s no one “right” way to succeed. There are so many ways, and so many different experiences.


Intermix President Jyothi Rao

Courtesy of Intermix

For Intermix president Jyothi Rao, a “work family” is a real thing. She spent 16 years at Gap, laddering up from her first post-college job, only to rejoin the family via Intermix (Gap acquired the high-fashion retailer in 2012). Strong families outside of the office are also something that’s close to her heart—whether the nuclear variety or the type you chose for yourself—and a passion she’s been able to support via her professional influence. To celebrate Mother’s Day this year, each store location is partnering with a local organization brought to its attention by a customer (Intermix in Soho will support Glamour Gals; the Columbus Ave. location is working with The Ali Forney Center). Special events are being held at all stores today, with 10% of proceeds benefiting associated causes. To celebrate, we asked Rao to reflect on her career.

How do you describe what you do to people who might not be familiar with your industry or world?

“My role as the president of the company is to craft the vision for the brand and develop the overall business strategy. I have a hand in just about everything: creating a compelling customer experience in both channels of our business, crafting a strong brand story, keeping an eye on marketplace trends and innovation and overseeing the development of our own Intermix label.”

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What’s an average day like?

“Every day varies which is what makes life fun and interesting. I’m typically up early, and my day is action-packed from the minute I’m awake. I try to get a workout in and then get our 7-year-old daughter Lily out of bed and to school on time. I often have breakfast meetings, either to meet talent or network in the industry, and get to the office around 9 a.m. Then my day is split between internal meetings with various departments such as creative, real estate, e-commerce, and finance, and external meetings with the designers and brand partners with whom we work very closely. I try not to commit more than one night a week to work events so that I can spend time with my family, and I never miss events that are important to my daughter or husband.”

Rao with CFDA president Steven Kolb.

BFA / Hunter Abrams

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What’s the most challenging part of your job? The most fulfilling?

“I’d say the most challenging part is having the discipline to effectively distribute my time to initiatives that move the needle on the business, without getting pulled into the day-to-day problem solving that inevitably comes up. We have 38 boutiques, a rapidly growing e-commerce business, and over 300 brands and 500 employees, so it can be quite the juggling act. My favorite part of the job is meeting with various members of our team, at all levels. They are so inspiring, and I always learn something new from them or they’ll spark an idea. It’s truly humbling to work with such talented people.”

Is there someone you identify as a mentor?

“My father was my first mentor: a man who grew up with little means and was able to become a successful entrepreneur. He instilled a strong work ethic and unwavering integrity in my approach to business. I’ve been fortunate to have worked with some remarkable people in my career, from Mickey Drexler, from whom I learned everything I know about merchandising; Maureen Chiquet, who taught me to be agile and never to stop improving your product; Kevin Ryan, who taught me to think big and take risks; and Art Peck, who is one of the most empowering leaders I’ve ever worked with, plus many others who have taught me the importance of being customer centric, to value culture, and so many other important leadership lessons.”

Looking back at your career, what are some of the commonalities you see between different jobs you’ve had? Did you find you realized strengths and likes as you progressed, or is your career made up of things you honed in on from the beginning?

“I’ve always worked for brands I believed in and chose my jobs based on what I would learn from doing them. I joined the international division at Gap when I knew little about running an international business, and I joined Gilt when I had no digital experience. I’d say the one commonality across all the jobs I’ve enjoyed is working within an entrepreneurial culture where you can make decisions and implement new ideas quickly.”

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Rao with Chrissy Teigen and John Legend at a launch event for Intermix’s A.L.C. On Duty designer collaboration.

Getty / Stefanie Keenan

How closely does your career align with what you thought you wanted to do when you were in school?

“I graduated college when I was 21 and had many interests, so I explored lots of career opportunities ranging from investment banking to CPG marketing roles. I’d always had a love for fashion and numbers, so it was fitting that I began my career in retail. My first job out of college was as a merchandise trainee for Gap in their San Francisco headquarters. I stayed with the company for 16 years and had various roles within the men’s, women’s, international, and outlet businesses. Working in a portfolio company allowed me to have a different experience every two to three years and to develop leadership skills that put me on the trajectory to one day be the president of a company—little did I know that it would be at Intermix, which was acquired by Gap in 2012. I never could’ve had the foresight to know that I would end up so close to the place I started, but I couldn’t be happier.”

I wish I had learned how to leverage my network of contacts earlier in my career

What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to people looking to take the next step in their career?

“Follow your passion. Do work that you think you’ll enjoy, and work within a company culture that fits your personality.”

If you could go back and change anything about how you got to where you are today, what would you change?

“I wish I had learned how to leverage my network of contacts earlier in my career, but I have no regrets.”

Do you have a ‘work spouse’? A tribe? How has community or friendship affected or helped your work?

“One spouse is all I can handle! My husband and I have a wonderful network of friends who I love and respect enormously. They come from very diverse backgrounds and work in a wide range of careers. I don’t like to surround myself with sameness at work or in my personal life—diversity of people and ideas is the future.”



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