AVB’s Arlene Soto, left, with BrandSource members JoAnne Keen, center, and WiB Cornerstone Award winner Janys Hutchings at the 2019 Convention.
What makes our lead manager tick
By AVB Events
In her role as Member Relations Lead Manager, Arlene Soto is one of the group’s more familiar faces to BrandSource members.
While dealers know her for her unflagging assistance and support, she is also heralded for her work with Women in Business (WiB), the eight-year-old AVB organization formed to further empower female professionals throughout the appliance, furniture, mattress and consumer tech industries.
With Convention 2022 fast approaching, the ever-effervescent Soto sat still long enough for a brief exchange with the AVB Events team to learn what makes her tick.
How long have you worked in the industry?
I have been in the industry for 16 years now this month.
How did you make your first dollar?
I was 15 years old when I started my very first job at Finish Line [the athletic apparel retail chain]. My mom reluctantly allowed me to work at that time. She later understood that my sole purpose to work was to help her and contribute to the household. It was my way of feeling independent. This was also my first experience in retail, which I’m extremely grateful for.
What is the best career lesson you’ve learned so far?
To never stop learning! We will all encounter individuals in our careers and outside of our occupations that are more experienced, so keeping that mentality of “always learning” will help us be more knowledgeable and well-rounded individuals. Always find an opportunity to grow, whether that’s personally or professionally, while also motivating and sharing that knowledge with others.
Is there a change you would like to see in the industry?
Absolutely! I would like to see more women owners of mattress, appliance, furniture and consumer electronics businesses. I was reading an article recently where it stated that the number of women-owned businesses in the U.S. sits at about 42%. Despite the increase, there’s still a lack of support in venture capital being funded to women, with only 2.8% going to women and even less to minority women. That struck me. There’s much change that’s needed, as I would love to see more lovely ladies wanting to start up or take over a new business in our industry. We are growing every year though, so… we’ll get there!
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Time is precious so don’t waste it. Invest time in taking care of yourself. Learn as much as possible and listen to mom. She’s certainly always right. Stay motivated and don’t be discouraged by the opinions of others. Lastly, it’s never too early to start saving or putting money aside.
How do you define success?
Success is truly so subjective and unique to everyone. For me, success in my current role at AVB BrandSource is making sure that I’m always a value to the members, to my teammates and to the organization. The performance and achievements of each I share as my own success.
What should every woman try at least once in her life?
Every woman should take a trip, either on their own or with friends, to their most desired destination. You owe it to yourself. Create lasting memories while you’re there and make it an unforgettable experience
What is the best advice you have been given?
I have been given much great advice throughout my life. One of the best is to remain honest, kind and humble, and to work hard because nothing in life is handed to you.
What is your favorite quote?
“You will face many defeats in life, but never let yourself be defeated,” by Maya Angelou.
What brings you the greatest joy?
Spending the most time as possible with my family and watching my boys grow up to be kind human beings is what fulfills me and brings me the most joy. Oh, and my dog Dante, that’s my baby!
What are three things you can’t live without?
My faith, my family and my music.
Convention is just over three weeks away. What’s your favorite part of show?
I have two favorite parts of the show. I always enjoy our Stampede event because I look forward to the fun new theme, and it’s exciting to see how it just evolves every time.
The other, without a doubt, is attending and hosting our Women in Business event. Currently, we only get to gather twice a year, but we always make our time together a special one. We are so appreciative of the phenomenal speakers that partake in our sessions and of our amazing vendor partners who always support our WIB group [#BrandSourceWIB].
What are you looking forward to most at Convention?
Oh, this is tough, because there’s so many wonderful things to look forward to there — the Expo, trainings, educational seminars, Town Hall sessions and the Stampede, to name a few. However, I have been truly fortunate and blessed to have built long-lasting relationships with so many of our members, vendors and peers throughout the years, so I always look forward most to the networking. I always gain so much knowledge just from all the one-on-one conversations, and that’s something that is priceless to me.
BrandSource, a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc., is a nationwide buying group for independent appliance, furniture, mattress and CE dealers.