As part of Nau’s interview series, we interview the people whose bold visions and rebellious spirits have directly inspired our own. Vicki Vasil’s generosity, uncompromising ethics, and big personality make her an ideal subject for our Fast Five interview. We talk to Vicki about her fondness for thunderstorms but not cilantro, crying to the Moth podcast, and, of course, her ideas around sustainability.
Vicki with the infamous punk rock shih-tzu, @indy_bites.
In third grade, Vicki Vasil aced the unit on advertising at the public school she attended on Long Island. With a few friends, she acted out a series of ads, including a tv commercial to sell dishwashing liquid, where she remembers playing Alice from The Brady Bunch wearing rubber gloves while standing cheerily at a kitchen sink. She was the kind of child who loved the emotional draw and bold attention good brands deserved. An even younger Vicki, around two years old, preferred Entenmann’s donuts out of brand loyalty, for example. By three, after studying the cigarette machine in the mall (that was a thing), she was able to personally connect each brand of cigarette to the smokers in her family. Uncle Mike smoked Kents, Uncle Tony smoked Marlboros. “I loved connecting brands to the personalities I knew so well,” she explains.
So, being Nau’s Brand Marketing Director has always been a kind of dream job for Vicki—not only because of her love for connecting people to a product she believes in but because of Nau’s ethos. “I’ve only worked in places where I believed in what they were doing.” But as emotionally connected as she is to the brands she serves, she’s an entrepreneur who isn’t afraid to instigate change. Vicki came to Nau in May of 2017 and is leading a shift for Nau to speak more to the brand’s values rather than being product-driven, rekindling the emboldened and urgent message of Nau’s founders. She leads with what’s right and is never apologetic for helping Nau remain fully committed to sustainability.
What do you miss right now?
A really good thunderstorm. When lightning cracks open the sky and it’s obvious that thunder is the sound of lightning, bc the storm is right over your head and the electricity is palpable. The east coast gets ‘em, the south gets more. I wish I could import them to the Pacific Northwest.
What’s one thing you’d never forget to bring on a trip?
A toothbrush and change of underwear in my carry-on. I’ve taken enough red eyes and had my luggage lost enough times to appreciate feeling fresh in the morning. I always have these emergency essentials at quick reach the second I deboard the plane.
What are the three most beautiful words in the world to you?
“Contains no cilantro.” Seriously. My assessment of this herb usually goes like, “it tastes like someone poured a box of powdered dishwasher soap on my plate of food.” I’m still getting used to this reaction from people, because this genetic predisposition or whatever it is, makes even biting into the slightest remnant of a leaf of the herb traumatic.
What are you currently listening to or reading?
I’m catching up on a decade of the Moth podcast (true stories, as remembered by the storyteller, captured live). No matter the story, the topic, I get hooked in the first thirty seconds and am usually crying by the end—not that they’re all sad– there’s this quote from a Douglas Coupland book that goes, “there are three things we cry for in life: things that are lost, things that are found, and things that are magnificent.” That is the perfect way to describe the Moth stories. I was actually really fortunate to catch a live Moth event here in Portland last month too.
What does being sustainable mean for you?
The way I look at it is that, say you look outside your window at a lone, aged oak tree. Sustainability is about that oak tree being there 50, 60 years from now, sure. But it’s even more about your granddaughter sitting under that same tree with her own child.
Now that you’re inspired by Vicki, it’s your turn to go UTW.