Exec Exclusive: Rikke Cumberbatch, The Vitamin Shoppe
DAWN sits down with Rikke Cumberbatch, category manager of specialty supplements for The Vitamin Shoppe to talk about excelling as a female in the natural products industry.
DAWN: What sparked your interest in the naturals industry?
RIKKE CUMBERBATCH: I wanted a change and was looking for a company that would not only have a profound impact on my life but also on the lives of the customers that we serve. I wanted to say that I was making a difference in someone’s life for the better and that it wasn’t just another article of clothing or an accessory that went into someone’s closet or was irrelevant next season.
I also wanted to know that maybe someone felt a little better or was happier because there was a company that cared about health. I just happened to be lucky enough to be given the chance to join a company that offered that opportunity.
I feel very fortunate that The Vitamin Shoppe and the vendor community were willing to wholeheartedly accept someone new to the industry.
DAWN: How has The Vitamin Shoppe facilitated your success as a female?
RC: I truly believe that the sky is the limit within The Vitamin Shoppe. I have never before worked in a retail environment that has been as supportive and encouraging and, most importantly, compassionate about its employees. I really don’t think that the proverbial glass ceiling exists here. It’s a company where you really are in charge of your own destiny. I have flourished both personally and professionally at The Vitamin Shoppe.
DAWN: What challenges have you faced as a female executive?
RC: In the past, the biggest challenge from a corporate perspective has always centered on the work/life balance. At The Vitamin Shoppe, I find that the company and managers, as a whole, just “get it” when it comes to work and family. Here we do indeed walk the walk. I appreciate the support I get and most importantly the freedom to do my job.
DAWN: How do you differentiate your strengths as a female executive?
RC: I don’t really. I see myself as an executive first and foremost, as does everyone else at The Vitamin Shoppe. There are not male and female challenges so much as general challenges to address and grow from. So whether you’re male or female, I think that is how you become stronger overall.
DAWN: What resources do you use for professional development?
RC: I have learned and will certainly continue to learn from my peers within The Vitamin Shoppe, both at the corporate office as well as from the stores. I find that there is an incredible desire to learn and educate each other at all levels and across all departments.
I also read as many industry publications as possible. One of The Vitamin Shoppe’s core objectives and values is knowledge, which is accessible through our Vitamin Shoppe University as well as our annual product education conference. Never before, in my many years in retail, have I had such ease of access to this much information.
Additionally, the vendor community has been instrumental to my growth and development in the natural supplements industry.
DAWN: What advice do you have to give to females who want to excel in the naturals industry?
RC: To be open-minded and always willing to learn from your peers, both internally and externally and from all levels. This is an industry where everyone “has skin in the game” and is more than willing to share their wealth of knowledge. If you embrace this industry, it will embrace you back tenfold.
I can truly say that I have never been happier and more content in what I do every day.
Rikke Cumberbatch is the category manager of specialty supplements for The Vitamin Shoppe (TVS). She has been at TVS for more than three years, starting as the category manager for vitamins, and has been in the retail industry for more than 18 years. Part of Cumberbatch’s responsibility is to formulate private label products. She also functions as the buyer in the specialty supplements category. Prior to TVS, she held buying positions for Gucci, Bloomingdales, Tommy Hilfiger, Macy’s, and most recently, Toys “R” Us.