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Marketing professional brings her expertise to entrepreneurship program

Thursday, October 6, 2011

"I'd never even been to Kansas," Charlotte Tritch said with a chuckle. Little did she know that she would not only move to Kansas, but fall in love with Lawrence, the University of Kansas and its School of Business.

Tritch is teaching her first year at the School of Business and has found her niche with the entrepreneurship program.

"I came across the opportunity at KU in entrepreneurship and thought this actually sounds like a really good fit," Tritch said. "I'm thrilled it worked out and I'm thrilled to be here."

Tritch grew up in northeast Indiana. She spent her weekends going into Chicago with her family, visiting museums and taking in the city. Because of this, Chicago was first on her list when she graduated from Indiana University.

Right out of college, Tritch got a job with an executive search company. It was during this time that she interacted with many different corporations on a senior level, but it was her interaction with marketing executives that inspired her to get her MBA. Tritch decided to go back to school and attended the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, where she studied marketing and economics.

Upon graduation Tritch again sought out jobs in the Chicago area. She landed a job with Alberto Culver, a small consumer packaged goods company. At Alberto Culver, Tritch worked specifically with the TRESemmé brand, this included helping secure partnerships with Project Runway and launching the hair care line in Canada.

"We really worked to revitalize the brand," Tritch said. "Now it's probably one of the top three or four hair care brands in the country; it grew incredibly rapidly and became cool again."

Besides working with TRESemmé, Tritch spent time on VO5, Alberto Culver's flagship brand. She was also a key player in the acquisition of Nexxus, which was a salon-only brand introduced into the mainstream marketplace.

It was about this time that Tritch received the phone call that would take her away from the city of Chicago and lead her to the plains of Kansas. A friend from college had started her own executive search company and called to see if Tritch would be interested in a job with Payless ShoesSource, headquartered in Topeka.

Tritch was a little hesitant.

"It (Kansas) just wasn't on my radar and I wasn't looking to leave Chicago," Tritch said. "But I was really excited about what they (Payless) were doing and it was a great opportunity. So I decided to move and sort of fell in love with Lawrence."

Tritch commuted to Topeka where she managed marketing for the women's and accessories business and once again worked to breathe new life into a brand, this time a discount shoe brand. Just like with TRESemmé, Tritch began to build partnerships, in this case she commissioned emerging apparel designers to design footwear lines for the shoe company.

"We wanted people to stop thinking about Payless as a discount retailer and show them we're not just about low prices, but we also have cool stuff," Tritch said.

Life with Payless was a whirlwind. Tritch was traveling frequently and spending too much time away from her family, so she decided to work a little closer to home. By chance she had met people working for the Olivia Collection, the management company that owns the Eldridge and the Oread hotels. This chance meeting led to a job as marketing director for the company.

"They had never had a brand marketing person before, so I came in to help them set up a lot of the marketing functions," Tritch said.

Working in the hospitality industry lead Tritch to create her own consulting firm. There she aims to help clients with brand strategy, customer analysis and marketing plan development. It was during this transitional phase that she looked into teaching.

Tritch did some research and found that the KU School of Business allowed professionals in the industry the opportunity to teach and that lead her to the entrepreneurship program.

With her first semester nearly half over, Tritch has more than kept herself busy. She teaches two classes; ENTR 480: small business management and ENTR 490: entrepreneurship in practice. She also works with Jayhawk Consulting and is an advisor for Entrepreneurship Club.

"Teaching is definitely my top priority. I want to spend as much time with the students and give them all my time," Tritch said.

And that she is. Tritch has effectively integrated herself into the KU School of Business family at Lawrence, where campus even offers a bit of nostalgia for her college years.

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