Meet Vicki Ostrom: Prairie Princess Trend Whisperer

July 29, 2020

In her nine years working at SanMar, Trend Editor Vicki Ostrom has held two jobs. For the first four years, she was a Senior Designer working on apparel and then five years ago she transitioned into her current role as full-time Trend Editor. She knows what it means when things are forecast to be the next big thing in style and fashion.

Vicki Ostrom speaks the language of trends. She tells people where to look for inspiration and she gives advice to consumers and fellow employees alike on staying ahead of what will appeal to our customers.

“In my job, I see myself as an interpreter of trends and an innovator on the lookout for solutions to changing expectations our customers may have, before they have them.” In other words, she knows what you need before you thought you needed it. That’s some serious forecasting.

Vicki said that often trend forecasting is seen as a mystical occupation where the title of “futurist” is used interchangeably with “forecaster” and really, she doesn’t disagree with that assessment. She said half of her job is researching to gather data, 45% is dedicated to deciding how that translates into products and 5% of her job is spent working to hone her sixth sense about what is going on in the world.

“I look for information threads that could be woven into a trend we need to address.” Some of her best and most valuable sources of information are her peers at SanMar. She gets emails and texts almost every day with links to events or articles that someone in Sales, Merchandising, Marketing or even IT has seen and thinks could be useful to her. Vicki said she couldn’t do her job as well without that help. It’s the various connections she makes that make her feel so good.

The link between her love of all things creative from clothes to architecture and international interior design, comes through in the spirited trend presentations that she gives during tradeshows and other events. Her passion for what she does is felt when someone in the audience has an “aha” moment stemming from one of her appearances. “I love when I get an email showing me how someone who went to one of my talks implemented the information in a marketing campaign or at a tradeshow.”

SanMar’s self-described “Prairie Princess” grew up on a wheat farm in Montana. She said she always had her head in books about art or in fashion magazines and she was interested in TV, movies, musicals and music. Vicki couldn’t get enough of anything in the creative arts. At one point in her life she considered being a nurse, then a chef, then a minister, then maybe an actress.

Her path instead led her to college where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Technical Theatre with an Emphasis in Costume Design from the University of Montana and later an Associate of Applied Science in Apparel Design from Seattle Central College. For seven years, she was also a costume designer and seamstress on Broadway in New York City.

She approaches everything that she does with passion, thoughtfulness, whimsy and lots of humor. When asked if she had any hidden talents, she offered-up her unmatched ability to unravel twisted necklaces.

“I’d love to say concert level pianist or portrait painter, but I’d probably be more honest to say I’m great at untangling necklaces when they get knotted up. I mean, not to brag, but I’m really good at that.”

During this ongoing pandemic, she has had the rare opportunity to help the promo community by putting together creative food for thought. She’s happy that her role is that of encourager.

With all that’s happening in the world, having a skillset to assess what trends are happening and then being able to share that information with customers makes Vicki feel like she has actually made her childhood dream of being a nurse, chef, minister and actress all come true.

“We all need a ‘spoon full of sugar’ right now, and that’s where I shine. It makes me feel essential at a time when we are all trying to figure out how to help,” Vicki said.

She is sharing her talents at a time when businesses really need inspiration, and she is more than happy to serve it up in a palatable, smart, spirited and entertaining way.

In addition to the many contributions Vicki makes to the SanMar catalog, you’ll find her posting regularly on The Style Network. What advice has Vicki given you, and how did it help? Share your stories with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.