For a local girl who grew up loving to shop, Carla Adams’ job is a dream come true.
In 2003 she became the director of marketing for The Shops at Canal Place, among the most well known shopping destinations in the city.
“I don’t like to think of us as a mall,” Adams says. “We’re more of a relaxed shopping environment. Canal Place is just so visually appealing.”
Spanning three floors at the base of the famed Canal Street, The Shops at Canal Place features more than 30 stores, along with a fitness center, barber shop and movie theater that features in-seat dining service. Ever-expanding, recent additions include Tiffany & Co., Lululemon Athletica, Michael Kors and just this past March, Armani Collezioni.
Born and raised in New Orleans, Adams attended Mount Vernon College in Washington, D.C., graduating with a degree in art history, remaining in the city to attend a three-year management training program with Bloomingdales. She was then hired as a department manager, where she worked for three years before returning home.
“My father was a real estate attorney with Delta Title, so I came home to work with him for about a year before he passed away. I did the marketing there.”
Accompanied by her mother, Adams continued to do the marketing for her family’s business until they sold it five years later.
“At that point, around my early 30s, I was at a crossroads,” Adams says. “I realized that what I really wanted to do was something that encompassed my love of both retail and marketing, so I moved over to Saks Fifth Avenue.”
Soon Adams worked her way up to co-managing the public relations, marketing and special events department at Saks for five years.
“Then one day Roger Ogden and Darryl Berger, owners of The Shops at Canal Place, called me up and said they were looking for a director to put Canal Place back in the community,” Adams says. “It was an incredible opportunity.”
As soon as she accepted the position, Adams began partnering with local nonprofits, offering up Canal Place as a free fundraising and event venue that even included free parking.
Adams’ efforts have paid off. As Canal Place has cemented itself as a community fixture, Adams says sales have increased every year and are currently above the national average.
Whether it’s assisting shop owners, attending community events or overseeing advertising and social media efforts, Adams says all her efforts are aimed at providing shoppers with the ultimate experience.
“This place is like my home,” she says. “When people come here I want them to be happy and feel comfortable.”
mentor: Probably my parents. When it comes to what I do now, I learned mostly from them.
defining moment: When I moved from Saks to Canal Place. Picking up that phone call and hearing “We’d like to talk to you.” I was happy where I was, but I was so excited. It was like a whole new world opened up.
advice for young women: For a number of years I was a mentor at Loyola’s business college for a handful of freshmen students. I always told them make sure to be happy doing what you’re doing and you will be successful. Don’t do it for the money or because it would make your parents proud. You have to find out what you like and make a career out of it.
goals: To keep making “my boys” (Roger Ogden and Darryl Berger) happy. They really do take a very active role. Canal Place is their baby. They’re around all the time.
favorite thing about what I do: The ability to recognize and accept challenges and then fix them. I’m a fixer. I also love that every day is different. It keeps things fresh and exciting.