When It Comes to Marketing Lifestyle Brands, April Vitkus Knows the Value of Setting the Right Tone
- Written byDiane E. Barber
- Photographed byShane O’Donnell
When Palos Verdes resident and global brand marketing strategist April Vitkus consciously integrated wellness and mindfulness into her career, she realized a gratifying and soulful shift. Work was no longer “work” in the traditional sense.
“Most of my career has been in consumer goods and fashion,” shares April. “Though I am not saving lives, I believe it is incredibly important to find a career that aligns with your core values. By doing that, I personally enjoy my work more, and my team and I have a greater positive impact on a brand.”
April was born in San Jose, and her family relocated throughout California and the Midwest while her father pursued his executive management career. She graduated from UCLA in 1998 with a B.A. in English literature and landed her first job at an ad agency in Los Angeles. “I knew I wanted to work in advertising and marketing when I interned there before I graduated,” she recalls.
Two years later with her new career underway, she moved from Brentwood to Hermosa Beach so she could be closer to the ocean. “The ocean is everything to me. It is my calm. It grounds me,” she says. “I spent a lot of time surfing in Santa Cruz when my family lived in Northern California. I can never be too far away from it.”
April’s husband, Linas, a South Bay native and UCLA engineering school graduate, briefly returned to Palos Verdes before the college sweethearts’ careers led them to Orange County. They married soon after they moved and stayed for 10 years before returning to the South Bay. “We love the sense of community and active lifestyle here and wanted to raise our children close to family,” says April.
“The ocean is everything to me. It is my calm. It grounds me.”
After eight years of leading marketing and communications in the fashion industry for contemporary designer label BCBG Max Azria and designer start-up Trovata, April accepted a product and lifestyle marketing position at Vans in 2008. Six years later, she was promoted to senior director of global brand marketing and strategy for the iconic marque and was charged with attracting newcomers to the brand while rewarding loyalists worldwide. During her 13-year tenure, she led strategic growth initiatives, digital content campaigns and experiential marketing for the 50+ year company.
“Brand means so much more to consumers than the product. They want a deeper connection and to know that it stands for something, such as sustainability and the environment or racial and social justice,” she says. “There is so much we can do as marketers to engage consumers with deeper meaning. At Vans, we tapped into creative expression—art, music, street culture and fashion—to broaden the brand’s reach beyond skateboarders and boys.”
Recently, April was appointed the global head of integrated marketing for Alo Yoga—a position she attributes to serendipity and her unwavering quest to align with the beat of her own soulful drummer. “The opportunity at Alo was a no-brainer for me, not only because of the amazing people and company culture—including at-work yoga classes and meditation—but also my path to get there,” she says.
April injured her hamstring at the end of 2020 while working out at a boot camp and sought something to help her recover. She started using the Alo Moves app for yoga, meditation and sound baths and became hooked.
“I was taking classes on the app every day when the VP of recruiting for the company happened to send me a message on LinkedIn about a new leadership role,” she says. “When I explored the opportunity, it ticked all of the boxes for me. It is an exciting, forward-thinking business that is growing leaps and bounds. It resonates with my active lifestyle, personal values and my purpose, which is to inspire, lead and develop a team. And Alo is an acronym for “air, land, ocean,” and the ocean is my grounding force. So I am meant to be there!”
When April’s sights are not set on strategizing mindful and innovative growth for Alo and bringing up the next generation of talent, she immerses herself in her beloved family life with Linas and their two sons and enjoys nature, fitness, vegan cooking, contemporary art, music and playing the guitar. In startling contrast with her ever-present Zen demeanor, her favorite music is hard-core punk and heavy metal.
“I heard Metallica for the first time on MTV when I was 13 years old, and I loved the sound of the guitars,” she says. “My parents told me if I was going to blast the music from my room, I had to learn to play it—and I did. It is actually another form of meditation to me,” she says with a smile. Om.