A look at the people behind the numbers in area business:
CAMILLE THOMAS JMC RETAIL GROUP INC.
Title: Owner, president and CEO
Camille Thomas, owner, president and CEO of JMC Retail Group, and the Minneapolis-based company have received awards for working with retailers and manufacturers to bring new home and other products to consumers.
Thomas was named one of Enterprising Women magazine's 2015 Enterprising Women of the Year while JMC Retail has earned the latest of nearly two dozen Vendor of Excellence awards from Target Corp.
JMC has tripled in size since Thomas, who has three decades of experience working with manufacturers and retailers, joined the company in 1996.
"We've always tried to be strategic, we've always been forward, visionary kinds of leaders," said Thomas, who spends a third of her time traveling to find new products and meet with suppliers and clients. "We are very good at recognizing what's next and why it's important."
One discovery spotted years ago in Europe, stainless steel trash cans, became a multimillion-dollar seller before competitors piled on and JMC moved on. "That's a basic commodity product, but we brought it in at the right time and had the right price point on it," Thomas said.
JMC has more than 20 employees and a supportive culture to counterbalance the intensity of the work, she said.
Thomas previously helped lead Target's "non-brick-and-mortar strategy," including early Internet initiatives and direct marketing. Thomas, who began her career at Donaldson's department stores, has a degree in retailing and design from South Dakota State University and studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.
Q: What motivated you to join JMC Retail Group?
A: It allowed me to use what I felt were my best traits: looking at product, product design, product development, factory relationships and leveraging that insight and bringing products to market that I know are relevant to the female audience.
Q: What will Target's recent focus on "design and style" mean for JMC?
A: We have a really deep understanding of Target and other mass merchants. We are thrilled that Target is refocusing on home as one of their signature categories, and style and kids, because we work in all of those categories. We think it should align really well with the things we do best and the things they do best.
Q: What attracted you to a career in retailing?
A: I've always had a passion for good design. Maybe the reason I ended up at Target Corp. is because I am like a lot of other people in the design world — we think great products should be available to anyone, anywhere, any time and don't have to be expensive.