Digital Marketing Redux   //   July 9, 2024

Why women’s workwear brand Argent is launching a career podcast

Women’s workwear brand Argent has dressed leaders in politics, entertainment and tech for nearly a decade. Now, it’s sharing their thoughts, stories and advice via a new podcast.

This week, Argent publishes its first episode of “Work Friends,” an extension of its online blog of the same name that interviews women about their time in the workforce. Twice a month on the podcast, Argent Founder Sali Christeson will speak with an executive, activist, entrepreneur, journalist or strategist about building their career path, speaking up in the office, finding their personal style and overcoming challenges like imposter syndrome.

“It’s information and content that I wish I had as a new career entrant,” Christeson told Modern Retail.

“Work Friends” is Argent’s latest effort to build its business beyond commerce alone. In the last few years, it’s focused on editorial and marketing through outfit tips and tricks, stylist recommendations, in-store workshops and its “Peer Recognition” program. What’s more, with “Work Friends,” Argent joins a growing number of brands turning to podcasts to reach new audiences, especially younger ones.

Christeson, a former tech manager and banking associate, founded Argent in 2016 after feeling there was a scarcity of functional, high-quality, comfortable workwear for women. Her message resonated with major power players; today, the brand’s customers include Hillary Rodham Clinton, Katie Couric and Huma Abedin. A more high-priced brand, Argent offers blazers, trousers, tees and dresses in colors like Cadet Blue and Fuchsia for $55 to $695. Argent first began digital only but now sells via its website, three retail stores (two in New York City and one in Washington, D.C.) and Neiman Marcus.

For its first five years as a company, Argent focused on fine-tuning its product and establishing itself as a go-to brand for women, Christeson said. Argent held networking events at its stores, launched its “Work Friends” interview franchise in 2019 and worked on a 2020 election campaign with the voting mobilization group Supermajority. By 2021, “We were in a really good place, and we wanted to graduate into community,” Christeson said. The brand brought on an editorial director and began publishing more audio and visual content.

The “Work Friends” podcast is part of Argent’s plan to publish more creative, raise brand awareness and appeal to those navigating their first jobs and internships, Christeson said. “The younger generation, the way they engage with us is certainly through our content and our community-building efforts because they’re really hungry for this information,” she said. “The podcast was really born from an effort to share wisdom and nuggets in an effort to sort of pull up the next generation.”

Most guests on Argent’s podcast will be women featured on the brand’s “Work Friends” blog. To date, Argent has profiled 46 women, including Mary Dillon and Elaine Welteroth. Argent has traditionally leaned on its high-profile clientele as a form of marketing, especially on social media. Its podcast is another way for Argent to tap into that network, further its reach and try out a different type of distribution.

Argent’s first four podcast episodes feature Shondaland executive producer Betsy Beers, political strategist Symone Sanders, labor activist Ai-Jen Poo and journalist Laura Brown. All episodes will be taped in person in a studio or store, and some will include audience questions. “We want it to be an ongoing thing,” Christeson said. “So we’re not really doing seasons. We’re just going to launch episodes every two weeks.”

These days, more brands are starting their own podcasts as a way to connect with fans, highlight their mission or tease new products. When done well, branded podcasts can be a helpful marketing tool, data indicates. According to a 2019 BBC Global News neuroscience study, branded podcasts have proven to be more effective, engagement-wise, than TV or radio ads. What’s more, “listeners create subconscious associations with the brand based on words they hear in the podcast,” the study said. Thrive Market, Trader Joe’s and Nectar all started podcasts in the last six years. Nectar’s show “Under the Influence” has 278,000 subscribers on YouTube.

Anjali Bal, associate professor of marketing at Babson College, told Modern Retail that the most popular podcasts — branded or not — are able to connect people with shared experiences. Argent’s podcast falls into that bucket, she explained. “As women, we’re judged differently for how we look when we’re in the workplace, and that’s something that we can relate to,” Bal said. “And a lot of the challenges or wonderful rewards of being a woman in the workplace are things that many people can relate to.”

That shared connection could be lucrative to a brand, Bal pointed out. “What is consistently shown in research is that when consumers self-select repeatedly into something, and they start to identify with it… that lends to consumer loyalty, which means they stay with the brand longer, and also consumer expenditure,” she said. If Argent can convert even a small percent of its listeners into shoppers, “that’s huge,” Bal said.

Christeson said Argent’s main goal for the podcast is to share viewpoints, not build revenue. But building a brand, raising money and achieving financial independence are all fodder for conversations on “Work Friends.”

“The timing of bringing this to life is really exciting because I think women are being unapologetically ambitious in a way that I haven’t really seen — talking about things like money and networking and career advancement in a different way,” Christeson said.

This article has been updated to reflect that Argent no longer sells its clothes at Nordstrom.