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Connie Huffa

Director of Product Development & Innovation Pipeline Strategist

Encino, CA

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Director of Product, Development & Textile Innovation  
Textile Engineer, Sourcing & Cost Improvement Wizard: Advanced & Extreme Materials  
 
Highly accomplished, enterprising product visionary who successfully mobilizes cross-functional matrixed teams to achieve business goals and alignment by leveraging both internal and external resources, analyzing brand performance, competitiveness, product trends, market data, and manufacturing expertise to develop strategies, meet deadlines, grow the business and increase trust with customers, vendors and machine builders.  
 
Results-oriented & fun to work with international textile engineering expert in scouting breaking technologies, advanced textiles, fibers, polymers & techniques to improve rate & speed at which complex products can be launched; developing positive environments of innovation, sustainability & profit.

Work Experience

Senior Engineer- Research and Development: International Platform Lead

Ossur Americas
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Foothill Ranch, CA
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October 2011 to April 2013

(Mass lay off & Restructure)  
Senior Engineer- Research and Development: International Platform Lead. Reported to Sr VP. Progressed from Senior Engineer to international platform lead position to support brand, sales, global manufacturing and operations by incorporating market knowledge to create new products in multiple lines, and reinvent old products with new aesthetics. Extensive leadership & planning roles with factories in Asia, North America, and Europe. Achieved multiple patents. 
Key Achievements: 
• Global Sourcing, Manufacturing & Operation Development – Change Management Lead: partnered with operations strategic sourcing to improve efficiency, construction modifications, & lean process improvement in Asia, USA, Mexico, Iceland, and France. 
• Lead global product development and testing of advanced materials and performance technologies resulting in 5% to 15% COGs savings from process improvements. 
• Championed Advanced Knit product development; defining requirements for all textile engineering, and set standards of product development excellence: established tolerances, defined acceptance criteria, developed vendor production strategies, oversaw cost saving product adjustments, quality control, regulatory, and ensured vendor compliance with product and materials standards. Managed all Prototyping staff.

Principal & Innovations Development Director

Fabdesigns, Inc
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North Hollywood, CA
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May 2009 to September 2011

Championed development, market research & launch of first to market strong branded consumer products, contemporary apparel, footwear, accessories, extreme sports, etc. Clients include Pelican Products, NIKE, Bette Paige. Known for hitting the ground running. 
Key Achievements: 2009-2011 
• New Product Development Innovation: Managed internal and external team of stakeholders, engineers, design, and marketing professionals to create Best of Class functional & technical specifications for client Pelican by driving teams beyond their comfort zone to first to market product line.  
• Road mapped development, defined pipe line, developed business plan, CAP ex & cost. Managed product research, innovation, development, marketing and cross-promotion. 
• Product Development – team leadership: Identified, evaluated & provided guidance to suppliers in engineering, design, construction, sources, improved fabrications, manufacturing processes, construction, and quality standards of materials. 
 
• Improve fabrications, manufacturing processes, construction, quality standards of materials, product integrity, redundancy, and manufacturing pipeline to reduce costs and coordinate realistic time & action calendars. Agile and real time analysis of Industry, costs and ROI. 
• Translate design concepts into specifications, detail measurements, design features; translate manufacturing processes, quality standards & construction requirements; Stoll knit programs.

Director of Product Development & Marketing

Kraco Enterprises, LLC
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October 2008 to May 2009

Contracted for transition to new Parent Company Sun Capital Partners) 
Marketing (Hired Twice with increased responsibilities) Managed all Development and Marketing Staff – Reported to CEO 
Won over family owned management board of directors with new product approach, combining the latest production methodologies with comprehensible design and engineering input, resulting in brand enhancements, licenses, and vendor partnerships that drove double-digit sales for this market leader with 60% market share of both specialty chain and Mass. 
• Effectively drove Product Marketing by aligning with sales, presenting to buyers, Analyzing EDI, rationalizing SKU’s, streamlining information with visual merchandising teams to drive and optimize program effectiveness, boosting margins & merchandising. 
• International Marketing: Brought Kraco to Costco UK & Australia with knowledge of RSL materials testing in those countries and managing global brand assets. 
• Key innovations, brand enhancements and partnership developments drove double-digit sales. 
• Executed, managed and oversaw development of all products - legal, talent, budget, schedule, assets, tooling, capital expenditures, road map, et al. 
• Developed and Implemented product pipeline; budgets, tooling, capital expenditures, & road map; built 5 year plan by negotiating royalties / licenses, legal, talent, and budget. 
• Lead cross-functional teams to spear head long and short term growth strategy, deployed new lean process changes & constant improvement toward lean; Main point of contact for other non-product functions needing to connect to the product process.  
• Created detailed product plans, fit technology, to bring brand new categories to launch within 3 to 6 months; Result: Empowered sales to create long-term and loyal customer relationships and strengthen cost position / trade spend balance.. 
• Developed & launched ECO products; First in Market and first to be certified green recycled.

President and Executive Director of Product Development

Fabdesigns, Inc.
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North Hollywood, CA
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September 1999 to September 2008

P/T to 2005; Full time 3/2005 - 9/2008 
Fabdesigns, Inc. -- Concetta Bruce Label shuttered 9/08 due to economic factors. 
 
Founder/Owner; Executive Director of Product Development marketing, and merchandising for vertical US manufacturing facility focused on mass-customization of contemporary luxury products and accessories. Label shuttered in Sept-09 to allow owners and equipment to focus on exclusive Nike contract to develop Flyknit for 2012 Olympics.) 
 
Key Achievements: 1999-2008 
• Start-up: Created a vertical manufacturing platform built on mass-customization principals –; sold exclusively in 365+ high end specialty stores for 8 years. 
• Generated double digit sales with trend & sourcing expertise, manufacturing know-how, global market research, product innovation, development, marketing and promotion.. 
• Provided all seasonal fashion trend direction, forecasting & shopped fashion & fabric markets.. 
• R&D lifecycle, Production Pipeline & Costing engineer: Luxury and Performance knitwear. 
• Applied trend and sourcing expertise, Stoll manufacturing technology, global market research to develop supply chain, manage international vendors, material/product qualification 
• Recruited & managed sales team; Catalogs, Marketing, Managed trade show logistics, campaign development, created marketing campaigns; developed all sweaters and knits. 
• Produced photo shoots, packaging, collateral print, product graphics, and retail POP brand

Director of Product Development - Report Directly to Chairman of the Board

Kraco Enterprises, Inc
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Compton, CA
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January 2004 to March 2005

Department and position eliminated 3-05 - Company Downsized) 
 
Market Position: $100 Million Market leader with 50% market share of both specialty chain & Mass. 
 
Managed all Development & Marketing Staff 
Key Achievements:  
• Led all creative and engineering functions, responsible for developing, implementing and managing corporate product development plans by uniting marketing and development efforts with sales and senior managers 
• Created consumer focused product plans to bring brand NEW PRODUCT CATERGORIES to launch within 12 months; innovations & enhancements drove double-digit sales. 
• Successfully initiated development process, specifications, created internal communication process, streamlined communications with Asian sourcing, sales and stakeholders, where there was no prior organized and strategically linked manufacturing engineering process. 
• Eye for Brand Acquisition & Business Development Opportunities: brought Goodyear to Kraco, resulting in $15 Million + in annual sales & much improved margins 
• Established, executed, and managed product research, product innovation, product development, product marketing and product promotion 
 
• Key innovations, brand enhancements and partnership developments drove double-digit sales. 
• Led all creative functions, development, trade marketing, visual merchandising & ads, industry events, brand messaging, audience segmentation, etc 
• Successfully initiated development process, specifications, created internal communication process, which streamlined communications with Asian sourcing, sales and stakeholders, where there was no organized process previously. 
• Scouted licensing opportunities: Brought Goodyear to Kraco = $15 to $20 million sales / year. 
• Lead an extended team of international 3rd party resources and vendors to meet development and production commitments. Developed R&D lifecycle and pipeline. 
• Created strategic product road maps to bring brand new product categories to launch

Director of Product Development - Textile Engineer

Shell Oil
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Moorpark, CA
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September 2000 to January 2004

Promoted multiple times) Shell Oil - Auto Expressions consumer products division: Automotive after-market accessories: Sole textile technology specialist; promoted multiple times with increasing responsibility, receiving numerous individual and team awards for $250million consumer products market leader with multi-channel distribution. Justified need for a dedicated Product Development team; hired, mentored, managed, and motivated the team of 12 + to success of multi-line, multi-category launches annually into multiple channels of distributions. Developed, implemented and managed corporate product development plans, branding and packaging by uniting other departments through influence, mutual respect and agreement. 
 
Key Achievements:  
• Record Achievement: - Automotive Fashion Accessories Was primary creative force, in reinventing the automotive after-market soft goods category by injecting innovative materials, product trend forecasting, licenses, aesthetics, in depth category analysis & strategic planning.  
• Developed New Intellectual Property through strategic vendor partnerships, and focused private label business opportunities. Grew sales 46% in one category and 25% overall 
• Successfully established new product development process, managed innovative design direction for all products, increased sales 46% and opened new markets. 
• Reduced material costs 25% ($8Million) established global supply chain and maintained system accuracy - materials & products (ISO, ASTM, ANSI, REACH,& regulatory standards.) 
• Change Management Success: Successfully built Product Development Stages and Gates infrastructure, simultaneously nurtured creative development process, OPs procedures, QC, and quality benchmarks. Tracked ROI, focused on developing new intellectual property to deliver 35% of new revenue. Achieved 85% successful launch rate on new products.  
 
• Developed and implemented break-through and first in industry products, key in reinventing the automotive soft goods category through innovative injection of fashion, consumer-focused marketing, strategic partnerships and promotions. 
• Successfully established the product development process and focus for Axius and managed the strategic design direction for all six categories of Axius brand products and MEDO air fresheners - increased sales 46% and opened new markets. 
• Benchmarked materials & product specifications; worked with vendors to streamline & reduced material costs 25% ($8Mill). Analyzed assembly operations, labor and costs. 
• Successfully built infrastructure, nurtured creative development process, OPs procedures, QC, and quality benchmarks. Created patterns, mini markers & analyzed efficiency - Gerber/ Tuka 
• Tracked ROI for a $1.8 million budget, focused on developing new intellectual property to deliver 35% of new revenue. Achieved an 85% successful launch rate on new product development. (The average is 65%) 
• Averted loss of multiple licenses, increased volume and revenue for all Shell licensed products for WB, Mattel, Sanrio, Nickelodeon, etc. intermediary between vendors, sales and licensors. 
• Pioneered an extended team of international 3rd party resources and vendors as the liaison to operations. Was key in facilitating team alignment - maximizing the design team's effectiveness & their integration with global partners. Trained Customs specialists.

Adj. Professor of Textiles

Philadelphia University
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Philadelphia, PA
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January 1996 to May 1998

Masters Program.

Education

Bachelor of Science in Textile Design

Philadelphia University (Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science)

Additional Information

CORE COMPETENCIES 
•Adaptive Leadership, Plan & Road Map  
•Trend Forecast: Lifestyle, Brand, Image  
•Strategic Risk Management  
•Drive Design, Merchandising, Marketing 
•Effective Project Implementation  
•Solid 3 to 5 year Pipeline Development 
•Technical Textiles Technology Expert  
•Effective Labor & Cost Reduction  
•Advanced Materials Engineering 
•Manufacturing Operations Improvement 
•Product Performance Testing  
•Solid Global Sourcing Relationships 
•Lean Quality, Compliance & Testing  
•Sustainable, RSL, & REACH, Regulatory