Erik Nordstrom visited LIM College to participate in our monthly CEO Speaker Series for the Center for Graduate Studies. Of the many topics he mentioned, Nordstrom’s customer focused strategy was the one that left a major impression on the audience. LIM College interviewed a few graduate students who talked about the experience from their point of view.
LIM College: What was the most interesting thing Erik spoke about?
Nargiza Dakmak, Graduate Student: The most interesting thing for me was to learn that Nordstrom’s philosophy is focused on customer and making his/her life easier. The customer is the most important segment followed by sales and support people because they have direct interaction with the customers. The executive team and board of directors are at the bottom.
Uzoma Ejiasa, Graduate Student: Their # 1 goal is to make sure customers feel good because the better service you give the more you sell.
Brittany Alexander, Graduate Student: What was most interesting to me were how new trends like personalization, strategic partnerships with other brands, fast in-store check-out, organic searches, social engagement and embracing social media were the best channels of spreading awareness incorporated in Nordstrom’s business strategy.
LIM College: What are some of the audience’s questions for Erik?
ND: I asked if he had any recommendations for students graduating this term. Erik recommended to be curious, passionate and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
UE: I asked him was his first job in fashion. His first job was a shoe sales associate at Nordstrom, where he started his retail career.
BA: I asked him how are pop up shops affecting operations/sales at Nordstrom and how are they going to compete with Amazon if they open up a store in Seattle next to their flagship.
LIM College: What advice did Erik leave you with?
ND: Make yourself an expert of what you are doing.
UE: Be willing to learn and find answers, never be afraid to ask questions.
BA: Have passion and excitement of what you are doing and understand every part of your company.
Erik Nordstrom was named president of Nordstrom Direct, the company’s $1.6 billion online, full-price business in 2014. "As we work to further leverage our capabilities across Nordstrom stores and Nordstrom.com in what today is a growing $10B regular price business, we believe this move will help us meet that goal " said Eric Nordstrom.
Have you ever heard of or seen a house coat? Most will quickly say no, until they see what one looks like. It will bring you back to that childhood memory where your grannie serving you cookies and milk wearing this comfortable dress with a zipper up the front, probably in a loud color or print.
When I think of house coats, I usually think of cheap, matronly, brightly-printed sack dresses sold on the sidewalk outside the dollar stores in my neighborhood. In the early 1900s, a house coat was a woman's robe or dress-like garment for casual wear around the house. No woman would be caught wearing this running household errands or hosting a dinner party.
You might be thinking to yourself, why is this vintage obsession of an era way before our time relevant? The reason is that the grandson of the creator of the house coat visited LIM College this past week. Charlie Komar of Komar, Inc. participated in LIM College's CEO Speaker Series on October 15, 2014.
Charles Komar (our guest speaker's grandfather) founded The Atlas Underwear Company in 1908. After WWII, Sidney, Herman and Harold Komar joined and the company became Charles Komar and Sons. Today, third generation Charlie and David operate the brand as Komar and have transformed it to a small domestic housecoat manufacturer to a global sleepwear and intimate industry leader.
Mr. Komar offered lessons for the graduate students in hopes of applying them to their careers in fashion companies and entrepreneurial ventures. Here are Charlie Komar's top 12 pieces of advice for thriving in the fashion business.
If you want to be successful in business don’t just STUDY accounting, LEARN accounting. Understand how to read financial statements. Without this knowledge it will be very hard to succeed.
Being a good sales person is more important than you realize…SMILE, don’t BAD MOUTH, ask QUESTIONS and LISTEN more than you TALK.
Merchandising 101...FIND THE WHITE SPACE!
A sale for the sake of a sale is useless, know your costs to insure all sales are profitable.
If a bank does not want to loan you money, don’t take it personally. Listen to their reasoning, they might be smarter than you are.
There are times in business where you have to make TOUGH DECISIONS. You always have to keep your eye on the overall success of the business even if it means making very PAINFUL CHANGES.
If you have a weakness, seek out help sooner rather than later.
Inventory is milk not wine. Manage your inventory, always value it conservatively.
Always believe, never give up!
Learn from your mistakes.
Don’t be afraid to hire people that are smarter than you are!
When considering an investment don't focus on how much you can make, focus on how much you can lose. Understand the downside and can you afford it if things go wrong.
More than 5,400 students and professionals gathered in Seattle for the Shop.org Summit, a 2½ day event specifically for digital and multichannel retailers. Attendees got the rush of discovering new ideas while building strong relationships with the brightest and most innovative players in the digital retail world.
Theodora Papamihalakis and Nargiza Dakmak were given the opportunity to attend the event in Seattle. Both MBA students were chosen by LIM College based on an essay submission and their passion to pursue a career in ecommerce.
At the summit, a variety of panel discussions took place including a keynote speech by Jamie Nordstrom, president of Nordstrom stores, who told Student Program attendees at the Shop.org Summit that the company’s location is a reminder that retailers must constantly innovate or risk extinction. “When you stop evolving with your customer, you die,” he said. He was passionate about his retail journey and encouraged students to work in retail.
As part of the Shop.org Summit Student Program, students had the opportunity to sit down with retail veterans. Students received career advice and learned what soft skills are needed to successfully transition from the classroom to the workplace. Theodora and Nargiza both got the opportunity to be mentored by Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, CEO and Co-Founder of Gilt Groupe, Mindi Grossman, CEO of HSN and more. Check out this YouTube video of the mentoring session from Shop.org. (LIM College MBA students Theodora and Nargiza make their brief appearance 00:56 seconds into the video)
LIM College graduates also were given a tour of Amazon from one of its communications reps. Amazon has what is probably the biggest urban office space in the world. Its main offices are just a few blocks from Lake Union, right in the heart of Seattle. It's less than 30 minute walk from downtown, or tourist spots like Pike Place Market, or nice neighborhoods like Queen Anne. Amazon's buildings blend right in with their urban environment. Walking past Amazon's buildings, you wouldn't even realize you were in the middle of its corporate headquarters unless someone told you.
Theodora and Nargiza in Amazon's Lobby
Artwork features in Lobby of Amazon's Day 1 North Building
Amazon is a dog friendly work environment where employees can bring their dogs to work
Work ethic, leadership and mentoring are the three key points Daniella Vitale, Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President of Barneys New York, spoke about at the most recent CEO Speaker Series at LIM College Center for Graduate Studies. Students eagerly listened to the advice Daniella voiced to MBA and MPS students along with the esteemed faculty and members of the college.
"Work ethic is a skill of one's personal development" mentioned Daniella Vitale to the audience of attentive students. Barneys’ chief operating officer and senior executive vice president urged graduates to endure their first jobs with vigor, insisting that a positive attitude will serve them well. She also offered to, “...enjoy what you do. Have fun and laugh along the way because people underestimate the power of humor and how that shapes a career. I know that my success has also been being able to laugh at many situations over my tenure in this industry.”
Graduating from LIM College years back, Daniella spoke of her many jobs throughout her career. Starting from Ferragamo to Gucci and ending at Barneys New York, leadership has always been present in her positions from assistant merchandiser to senior vice president. She mentioned that her mentors, two people with whom she worked while she was at Gucci and Ferragamo, kept her driven to succeed and move on to bigger and better positions.
Jacqueline Jenkins, Director Of Graduate Studies, Daniella Vitale, David Freschman, CEO of FashInvest
Daniella Vitale delivered the keynote address at LIM College’s 75th annual commencement exercises on May 22 at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in New York. Daniella received LIM College’s Distinguished Achievement Award and an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science degree at the ceremony. “I am honored to receive this recognition and more importantly getting any opportunity to speak to a graduating class on all the good things to come,” said Vitale.
Graduate students at CEO Speaker Series Event at LIM College Maxwell Hall
MBA students at CEO Speaker Series event at Maxwell Hall
Whether you aspire to become a buyer, a merchandiser, a PR manager or an e-commerce expert, "making it" in the fashion industry doesn't come easy. Mentoring events are an essential activity for graduate students because it provides a systematic way to meet and speak with professionals in the fashion industry who can offer advice, encouragement, and support concerning future career goals.
Every mentor has something to offer, and the benefits of mentoring can go both ways. Mentors have information, contacts and perspectives to share which can help students to more clearly focus on their long term ambitions, hidden talents and skills as well as how to map out a strategy to achieve professional goals.
For a mentor, it means stepping back from the routine, giving a glimpse of what the future could be like, and of their everyday lives in a broader context. Mentoring helps our students see themselves in terms of their ultimate potential to contribute to the fashion industry.
(Bird's eye view of mentoring event)
(MPS Students With Mentor, Nicole Porco - Account Executive at LF USA)
LIM College’s inaugural Mentoring Event offered MPS students the opportunity to hear firsthand from fashion industry professionals who are also alumni of LIM College. They shared their journey and experiences leading to their current positions. The event took place in Maxwell Hall, where LIM College’s alumni mentors gathered to share their experiences within the fields of merchandising, planning, buying, management, e-commerce, global licensing and more. They opened the program by sharing their advice for getting started in the industry.
(Mentor Gina Mercatili, Merchandising Coordinator at Barclays Center & Brooklyn Nets, with MPS students)
“Network, network, network…” Jacquelyn Wenzel, President of JWmerchandising, mentioned to our MPS students at the event. Along with Erica Young, eCommerce Marketing Manager for Ashley Stewart, their advice to the students was that networking and maintaining relationships is going to be their biggest asset in “making it” in the fashion industry. While another mentor, Gina Mercatili, Merchandising Coordinator at Barclays Center & Brooklyn Nets encouraged the MPS students, “to know the value their work and never forget what they’re worth”. Nina Pantano, Associate Inventory Planner at P&G Fragrances at Macy's reminded the students that, “you learn something every single day and by acting like a sponge, absorbing as much as you can from everyone you meet can help greatly in your career”.
(From Left to Right: Erica Young, eCommerce Marketing Manager, Ashley Stewart, Jacquelyn Wenzel, President at JWmerchandising)
Keithen Polk, MPS Fashion Merchandising student, was the key note speaker for the event. Keithen mentioned that, “having a mentor is an extremely important key to succeed in our careers because they can provide direction, knowledge and experience in order to be led on the right path.”
(Nina Pantano - Associate Inventory Planner - P&G Fragrances at Macy's with MPS student)
“Believe it to achieve it to live it. Think about it.”-Keithen Polk
(Steven Robinson - Sr. Director of Sales and Merchandising - Juniors/Girls 4-16 at Xing Lin USA International)
fashion master's degree,
“Every one of us has it in themselves to be a leader”, said former CEO of Bloomingdale’s, Michael Gould, inspiring the graduate students of LIM College. In his most recent visit to LIM, he participated as the keynote speaker in the CEO Speaker Series where he gave a presentation about leadership, integrity, discovering opportunity and following your curiosity.
Michael Gould is known for encouraging today’s young professionals to become leaders. Having decades of retail experience under his belt, , he has learned that leadership doesn’t come easy unless you work for a company that will provide opportunities to allow growth and empowerment which eventually lead to leadership roles. During the 2008 economic crisis, Bloomingdale’s, like many other companies at the time, had to make strategicbudget cuts, but Michael Gould prevented any decrease in spending for employee leadership training. “You need to give people the opportunity to grow, that’s what it’s about. You can’t stop learning. Life is about education.” Mr. Gould is a strong believer that having trust and allowing others to trust you contributes to the leaders that are born or created in an organization like Bloomingdale’s. Mr. Gould clearly mentions that becoming a leader starts with integrity and is followed by intellectual curiosity.
“The most precious and tangible quality of leadership is trust” – Michael Gould, Former CEO Of Bloomingdales
Living in the generation where every aspect of our lives are being supported or enhanced by new technology, Michael Gould passionately spoke about how brick-and-mortar channels can avoid disintegrating.
He mentioned that if “four-wall businesses” are creative they have a far better opportunity than they ever before. “We’ve been going to the market since the time of the Greeks. We want to be connected. I don’t see brick and mortar going away. You can’t make a connection online. You can go to the store and make a connection.”
Post-Bloomingdale's, Michael Gould is occupying his time ensuring that leaders are being encouraged daily. During his speech he frequently referred to American writer John Gardner and his essay on personal renewal, which he himself refers to daily for his own personal renewal. “I want to be relevant. I want to continue to learn....The day anyone on the job stops learning, that’s the day you take the pictures off your desk and go somewhere else to work.”
Coming to study in the Big Apple? LIM College's Center for Graduate Studies is the best choice for practical and theoretical training in the business of fashion! Here at LIM College, we are sure that your academic knowledge and professional career will rise all the way to the top of the Empire State Building!
10 Reasons Why You’ll Love LIM College:
The City that Never Sleeps, the Capital of the World, whatever you want to call it, New York is an exciting place to live. There is always good food, new Broadway shows, and plenty of opportunities to visit a museum or two. From student discounts to countless inexpensive dining options, you don’t have to break the bank to go to grad school. Some of the best things to do in New York are free or cost very little: visit Central Park, grab a Citibike and ride down the West Side Highway to Battery Park while taking in the amazing views of the Hudson River!
Access to industry professionals is an important component of an LIM College education. CEO Speaker Series and Fashion Insiders Speaker Series are just two of the many ways LIM College exposes their students to industry experts who in their unique way, have made their mark on the fashion world.
Internships will provide you with intensive hands-on experience in the fashion industry. Symplicity is LIM College's jobs and internships database. Students can search for full-time positions before graduation and internships while an LIM College student. Some of the companies where our MBA students have interned include Chanel, Bergdorf Goodman, Michael Kors and more.
All coursework revolves around the fashion industry. LIM College is exclusively devoted to the business of fashion. The best way to grow in this challenging and competitive field is to focus your classroom learning on the industry thus becoming a true fashion expert.
Small classes, many of which focus on active learning based methods that involve “hands-on,” experience-based classroom work.
LIM College Professors understand the fashion universe inside and out. LIM College faculty members are published authors, nationally known experts, in-demand speakers and experienced professionals in every aspect of the business of fashion. They’re also dedicated teachers who care about your professional and personal success. Professors work closely with students offering professional industry experience with a personal approach.
Friday Seminars Series aid students by exploring many subjects that are vital to the fashion industry. Covering a variety of topics such as social media in retailing, Adobe Photoshop, design sketching and much more, these weekly seminars prepare you to a become well-rounded professional in the fashion industry.
The Department of Experiential Education & Career Management at LIM College welcomes companies to our campus for many kinds of recruiting events, including Career Fairs and on-campus interviews for graduate students seeking jobs and internships.
As you pursue an advanced degree at LIM College, you’ll experience the energy and excitement of urban life. LIM College offers a friendly, close-knit environment where each student feels like they are part of a family. A truly rewarding college experience means a lot more than just going to class, working on class projects, and gaining experience in the industry. At LIM College, we know that attending graduate events, exploring the city, making important professional connections and forming lifelong friendships are just as important as your classroom studies.
(In photo: Jacqueline Jenkins, Director of Graduate Studies at LIM College, with graduate students)
life in NYC,
LIM College's Center for Graduate Studies offers more than executive training needed to succeed in the fashion industry. Here at LIM College, students are given the opportunity to go beyond their textbooks. On Thursday April 10, 2014, David Freschman, a professor at LIM College and CEO of Fashinvest, invited his Investing in New Ventures MBA class to a digital media & entertainment investing conference in New York City. Students who attended were able to see firsthand what venture capitalists and investors do to find promising small businesses.
“Attending events such as the Fundingpost one, gave me a firsthand experience with expert individuals from the industry. Listening to the VC's speak was very influential and a once in a lifetime learning experience as an MBA student at LIM College. I will be able take what I learned with me in my future endeavors.” – Keri Murphy, Current MBA Student
left to right: Keri Murphy, MBA Student, Cristina Munoz, MBA Student, David Freschman, CEO of FashInvest, Theodora Papamihalakis, MBA Student
The event consisted of three panel discussions with expert investors. The first panel discussed early stage investing and how to meet investors, pitch to them and the details of what it takes to get them to actually invest. The second panel discussed how to grow media and entertainment businesses. They went into great detail about how to protect, sell and partner up for future growth. The last panel talked about the newest investing trend called crowd funding and how businesses can use it to their advantage. David Freschman, moderator of the last panel discussion, spoke briefly about exit strategies and personal experiences with companies.
Exhibiting companies gave live elevator pitches in person to the panel of investors during the event. Before and after each panel there was time for networking with the panel of investors where insights and advice were exchanged.
“Education is all encompassing. It’s not about textbooks, smart boards, or classrooms only. In today's competitive world it's about real life experiences that translate into real life knowledge. Having my students see the real world and meeting the industry influencers is what sets the LIM College MBA apart from other programs.” –David Freschman
LIM College’s graduate program breeds entrepreneurs. After graduating, new alumni are thirsty to own their own businesses. Michelle Reid, an MBA student specializing in entrepreneurship is using the tools that LIM College has provided in order to embark upon her journey to become successful. Hailing from Kingston, Jamaica, Michelle lives in Harlem, New York City and will be graduating in May, 2014.
In 2012, Michelle and her two partners started Flycatcha.com. Flycatcha.com is a style social network that allows people to photo-share their personal style, network and buy and sell fashion products. The company's mission is to inspire others and represent everyone who loves fashion. Michelle Reid believes, “Fashions come and go but style is forever!” Flycatcha.com is currently running and showcasing New York City’s most stylish people caught on camera by the company’s scouts. Viewers also have the ability to register their username to join the mobile app that is planned to launch in the summer of 2014.
Michelle Reid mentions, “We are more than a fashion blog…" Flyctacha.com will release their mobile app, available on iOS, Android, Windows and RIM, in summer 2014 allowing users to share their style each day, rate looks, comment and message each other. Registered users will be able to set up profiles, explore other posts, as well as view photos of the stylish people with diverse styles. Anyone interested in using the mobile app may pre-register their username via the website.
The name of the company came about back in 2008, in New York City and was tweaked along the way. It symbolizes that if there is a fly trend, look or item, Flycatcha.com will catch it. With an initial seed investment, the development of the website and mobile app have been improving since its inception. Michelle and her team hope to take her company public in addition to opening up brand extensions, like public relations and style publications.
“I will always want to be involved in the company, though I want to sell it and create other businesses...I'm a serial entrepreneur.” – Michelle Reid
LIM College has prepared Michelle with useful business tools in finance, accounting and marketing to continue to grow Flycatcha.com and expand into new businesses. She hopes that with the great success of Flyctacha.com, she will be able to give back to her LIM College community. Her most memorable experience in graduate school was in her Capstone class, where she refined her business plan and presented it to future investors that gave her useful feedback.
Please support Flycatcha.com by visiting the website and following via social media! @Flycatcha on Instagram and Twitter
fashion business school,
fashion mba program
Our most recent addition to the CEO Speaker Series was CEO and co-founder of Nicole Miller, Bud Konheim. Along with Mr. Konheim came Andrea Marron, Director of E-commerce and Retail. They chatted with the MBA and MPS students of LIM College. Director of Graduate Studies, Jacqueline Jenkins, introduced the keynote speakers.
From left to right: Bud Konheim, CEO and Co-founder of Nicole Miller, Jacqueline Jenkins, Graduate Studies Director, Dr. Christopher Cyphers, Executive Vice President of LIM College
Mr. Konheim started by mentioning four real life stories he wanted to tell the MBA and MPS students. Each story had a point behind it. He begins his first story about how me met Nicole Miller and how teaming up with her introduced innovation for the Nicole Miller company. “Were standing on an acre of diamonds, and were not dumb to bend down and pick them up”, Bud Konheim mentions.
Bud Konheim’s entire career was built around recognizing and seizing the opportunities he was presented with. He began his second story about how the Nicole Miller Company entered the tie business. One day, Nicole Miller was drawing a print which featured a bundle of theater tickets and one of the tickets had the letters MET across it, representing a ticket from the Metropolitan Opera House. They had ordered a bunch of dresses with this print and you if you can imagine, they were loud and disastrous. It was Bud’s genius idea, an opportunity that no one expected would be so profitable, to request a tie to be made out this loud print to accompany his quirky sense of style. A few days later they had 36 ties with this one of kind print. At that point in the world, everyone was wearing navy and red stripe ties with white shirts and navy suits, very MAD MENish. No one deviated from that color scheme. Recently opening up Nicole Miller Madison Avenue location, which still stands, they sent the ties not knowing what to do with them but sell them off as belts or a dog leashes. A gentleman shopping in the store asked to borrow one of the ties. Oh so conveniently, the gentleman happened to be the guard at the Metropolitan Opera House who took the tie back to the buyer of the gift shop. The tie was a big hit. The buyer went back to Nicole Miller and purchasded the remaining ties and placed a order for 300 more.
“Innovation is around you all the time, there’s not a piece of anything that is lost if you suck it all in and use it.” - Bud Konheim
Nicole knew she had fun drawing prints of subway tokens, Chiclet boxes pretty much anything from the bottom of her purse. This led to million dollar tie deals that were selling Nicole Miller ties at Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdales without making one sales call. Popularity grew because of the boldness of prints and this directed Nicole Miller focus to create a new print featuring baseball, football and basketball sports. A phone call from Larry Bird, who persistently requested a tie featuring his jersey, led to the creation of the story about the “thousand dollar tie” by Nicole Miller that landed the pages of Sports Illustrated.
“A really good designer isn’t a snappy talker. A good designer is visual.” - Bud Konheim
“Having the passion and motivation makes you a great designer”- Bud Konheim
Bud’s third story was about how Nicole Miller sub-labeled her designs with JC Penny. After discussing with Nicole, Bud’s point was that if the company wanted to sell America, it would take a risk to start distributing in JC Penny. Currently their clients were Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and more, but that’s was only a small fraction of America for the prices of their fashions. Bud feared for the Nicole Miller Company because the last time a designer had sub-labelled with a huge retailer was Halston and that didn’t turn out good at all. “It’s risky. Do we want to take that kind of a risk?” Bud questioned. In May 2005 the line was launched and publically announced during the Academy Awards of that year. Patiently waiting, in his suit of armor, that one of Nicole Miller biggest clients would drop the company, Neiman Marcus, Bud Konheim's deal with JC Penny released Nicole by Nicole Miller and it was a success. That was the start of the designer collaborations, where every designer wanted to be involved in.
“There’s’ opportunity every single day. Recognize it when it comes along.”- Bud Konheim
Bud Konheim’s fourth story brings him to current day and how Andrea Marron has taken Nicole Miller to being an E-commerce leading company. A fe years back, he received a call from Dartmouth Business School about a student who is interested in interning at a fashion company and he gladly agreed. Andrea Marron, received an internship at Nicole miller and impressed Bud very much. She was so educated about the technology revolution that was taking over the fashion industry. Immediately, he recognized her talent and offered her a job at Nicole Miller. Andrea replied by saying she was offered a job at Google. “Why would you want to be a little fish in a big pond? Here you’ll be a big star!”, as he pleaded her to join the company.
After 59 years at Nicole Miller, Bud had never thought of capitalizing on the runway. Andrea took the initiative to house their own e-commerce sector within Nicole Miller rather than outsourcing it to a third party. This strategically gave Nicole Miller a competitive advantage where they fulfill orders, create web development programs and media campaigns faster and quicker than ever before. Allowing the company to be more tech focused and savvy.
“The new era is not about the editors and the magazines, but about social media, the internet and the customers.” - Bud Konheim
Nicole Miller’s new collection Artelier derives from the beauty of the palace of Versailles and the rebels of the French Revolution. The collection was inspired from women revolutionaries who stormed the palace of Versailles that were throwing Marie Antoinette clothes, jewels and plates all over the place. The collection is decadent and opulent but also edgy and rebellious feel to it.
“I never had a dull day” at Nicole Miller – Bud Konheim