Remodista Interview Series: The Importance of Women in Retail Commerce

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Lois Herzeca, Partner, Gibson Dunn and Co-Author of Fashion Law and Business: Brands & Retailers (PLI 2013)

Interviewed by Kelly Stickel, President and Global Community Builder, Remodista

September 16, 2013 

1. Why did you choose to specialize in fashion and retail within law? 

In the last 5 years, there has been a retail revolution, powered by e-commerce, mobile commerce and the explosion of social media. This is an exciting time, but it has created novel and challenging legal issues for brands and retailers operating in the United States and internationally. As a corporate lawyer specializing in the fashion and retail industries, I am able to help my clients navigate these challenges as they grow and expand their businesses. 

2. You have a lot of experience in the area of fashion law. How has being a woman framed your perspective on this topic? What do you think you do differently than men (if any)?

This is an industry whose primary customer base is female. Research has shown that women spend more online than men, make much more than a majority of online purchasing decisions and are powerful drivers of e-commerce. The best lawyers are those that understand the business dynamics shaping the industries in which their clients operate. My experience with the consumer facing side of fashion and retail, combined with my industry knowledge and experience with companies from start-ups to multi-nationals, enhances my ability to effectively represent fashion and retail clients on their business transactions.

3. What was the driving force for authoring a book on Fashion Law and Business? 

My co-author, Howard Hogan, and I felt that there was a need for a complete, up-to-date, one-volume book exploring the intersection of law and the business of fashion and retailing. The book covers a broad range of topics, including: starting a fashion company, design and production, brick and mortar stores and e-commerce, intellectual property rights, FCPA, labor and employment issues, international trade, antitrust, acquisitions, and IPO’s .The book is intended as a guide for designers, executives, investors and, of course, other lawyers.

4. What do you see as the key drivers for increasing growth in the fashion/retail sector today?

First and foremost – the management of big data, How companies, collect, store, manage and use data across the spectrum, from their supply chain through the consumer experience, will distinguish the winners from the losers in this industry.

5. In the fashion and retail industry, the primary customer base is female. Executives are devoted to the female shopper and finding out how best to serve this segment. However, many executives who have the decision authority are male. Why do you believe there aren’t more women in the senior most roles in retail? 

Of course there are many successful women in fashion and retail. Tory Burch, Sara Blakely, Rose Marie Bravo, Shirley Cook, Angela Ahrendts, Bonnie Brooks, Liz Rodbell, and Mindy Grossman, just to name a few. However, you are correct that the percentage of female executives generally, including in fashion and retail, is much too small. There is a continuing debate about the reasons for this, and there is no easy solution. But, as a general matter, companies need to focus more on elevating women, and women need to focus more on developing the personal and professional skills that will help them to succeed. Women need to be visible and to take credit for their achievements.

6. According to a March article in RetailWire, Forrester Research expects e-commerce in the U.S. will see another string of double-digit gains over the next five years, albeit barely at a 10 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR). What role do you see executive women playing in this growth?

Women need to own the digital landscape.

7. From your experience in the fashion/retail industry, what do you see as some of the differences in female vs male executives in the retail/fashion industry? As more women like Angela Ahrendts, the CEO of Burberry, rise through the ranks, how will that change how business is done in our sector?

Recent articles suggest that the female leadership style is more collaborative, and more focused on fostering human relationships in order to enhance performance. This style of leadership has been shown to be quite successful. Moreover, women leaders who emphasize the importance of balancing work and family obligations can have a meaningful impact. Ahrendts was recently quoted in a UK newspaper to the effect that she is a mother first and a boss second and that she encourages Burberry staff to spend quality time with their families.

8. The fashion/retail industry is innovating quickly. As the law partner to some of the most innovative brands/companies, do women approach innovation differently? What are the pros / cons to their approach?

I am seeing more and more women entrepreneurs in the fashion and retail space. The most successful new companies have a strong brand identity, fill a hole in the market and have well though-out business plans. As consumers, women are often able to think innovatively about new products and services.

9. What industry trends excite you most today? Where do you see the most opportunity for growth?

3d printing and wearable technology.  These trends are going to fundamentally change our lives.

10. What do you believe is the most pressing issue fashion or retail currently faces that inhibits growth?  

For early stage companies, an important issue is obtaining financing on reasonable terms while maintaining control over the business. For more established companies, international expansion into emerging markets continues to be a challenge due to cultural, language, currency , legal and infrastructure issues. 

11. Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, encourages women to work collaboratively to talk about what they can do, rather than what they cannot do and support one another by sharing challenges they face as females in the corporate workplace. How do you see this playing out in the fashion /retail sector?

There are great communities of women in retail, such as Remodista, where women can share experiences and information. It is so important for us to see that other women are facing similar challenges and to exchange strategies for succeeding.

12. What advice do you have for women in retail? / What is one piece of advice you would like women to take away from your experiences? 

Be bold and be prepared

 

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Lois Herzeca Partner at Gibson Dunn 

Lois F. Herzeca is a partner in the New York office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.  Ms. Herzeca is a member of the Firm’s Mergers and Acquisitions and Capital Markets Practice Groups and is Co-Chair of the Firm’s Fashion, Retail and Consumer Products Practice Group.

Ms. Herzeca advises public and private companies, and investment banks, on significant legal and business matters, including mergers and acquisitions, capital market transactions, license agreements, and joint ventures.  Although she counsels companies in a wide range of industries, she specializes in insurance transactional matters and the fashion, retail and apparel industries.

Ms. Herzeca was named a “Dealmaker of the Year 2012” by The American Lawyer for her representation of Transatlantic Holdings, Inc. in its $3.4 billion business combination transaction with Alleghany Corporation.  She was named a “Dealmaker of the Week” by The American Lawyer for her representation of CommScope, Inc. in its sale to The Carlyle Group for $3.9 billion in 2011.

Ms. Herzeca’s fashion and apparel clients have included:  Helmut Lang, Proenza Schouler, Brian Atwood, Tabitha Simmons, Rachel Zoe, L’Wren Scott, Maria Cornejo, and Zumba Fitness.

She is ranked as a leading lawyer by Chambers USA:  America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, and is one of Avenue Magazine’s “Top Women Lawyers” in New York City.  

Ms. Herzeca earned her Juris Doctor cum laude from the Boston University School of Law. In 2009, Boston University honored her with an Alumni Pro Bono award recognizing her many community-based and international pro bono initiatives.  She is a board member of Women In Need, Volunteers of Legal Service and Women in Law Empowerment Forum. 

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Kelly Stickel Co-founder, Global Community Builder and President 

For over 15 years, Kelly has built many rich partnerships focused on community, content, and commerce.  She is proactive in building alliances with key leaders that are helping to lead the way. Kelly is experienced and passionate about researching emerging markets, innovations in technology, business drivers for transformation, and consumer behavioral shifts due to thinking with mobility. 

With the business objective to create an educational forum elevating women and collaborating on new strategies that integrate content and commerce, Kelly founded Remodista, June of 2010.

Kelly continues to share innovative thinking with mobility.  New strategies stemming from community are creating paths that have large cost saving dollars, increased efficiencies, and new revenue streams attached to its growth. 

For the last 6 years, Kelly has been an active leader, calling out trends, and supporting the expansion of mobile and social commerce through curriculum, collaboration, video, consumer behavior research, articles, and mentoring programs for young tenacious leaders.  Kelly continues to expand thought leadership through various initiatives and programs.

For the past 15 years, Kelly has also worked as a mosaic artist and teaches classes in the community. 

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Remodista is a collaborative forum with three primary goals: to elevate women, educate brands, and mentor a community focused on shaping universal best practices for global retail mobility. By connecting industry leaders with innovative ideas, who are ready to learn, share and bring visionary strategies to the market, Remodista has built a strong brand community.  

Women’s Global Initiative 2014 - Remodista Program

Global mobility is transforming the way communities engage in powerful and distinctive ways. Remodista empowers and elevates women to drive this change. Join us.

Remodista’s mission is to connect global mobility and forward thinking women to reshape the way brands do business by producing 6 global community events that educate brands, strengthen universal best practices, mentor future leaders, and nurture a global community.

Remodista: Women’s Global Initiative 2014 #WGI2014

Shares of companies with a market capitalization of more than $10 billion and with women board members outperformed comparable businesses with all-male boards by 26 percent worldwide over a period of six years, according to a report by the Credit Suisse Research Institute, created in 2008 to analyze trends expected to affect global markets. 

Women leadership and a focus on global mobility are critical for sustained growth as we enter the next generation of consumer interaction. The Remodista community elevates women leaders to help drive this change.  With the Women’s Global Initiative 2014, we are heading into; China, Russia, Europe, South Africa, and Brazil.

On September 24th, Lois Herzeca, Partner at Gibson Dunn, is graciously hosting a dinner party to launch this program that brings together key women leaders across retail, fashion, beauty and home brands to discuss how global mobility trends are impacting our businesses. The event’s mission is to connect global mobility and forward thinking women to reshape the way brands do business and produce 6 global community events tha educate brands strengthen universal best practices, mentor future leaders, and nurture a global community.

At the dinner, Rose Hamilton, the EVP & CMO of Pet360 and former VP of eCommerce at Ann Taylor will be sharing her enthusiasm and perspective on why these initiatives are so imperative as we expand our collective thinking globally. Rose has over two decades of experience in building direct-to-consumer, multi-channel businesses with expertise in e-commerce strategy, direct response marketing, brand building, and consumer insights. Her innovative thinking focuses on connecting communities and the consumer path to purchase, and is transforming digital marketing as we understand it today.

Our Women’s Global Initiative Retail Board includes 12 women, with a one year commitment from each. The board leadership consists of combined expertise in retail, technology hardware, digital marekting, finance, mobile, commerce, product innovation, quality assurance, legal, managment consulting, and enterprenurial advisors. Diverse industry experience and focused guidance will allow Remodista to create repeatable processes to measure and strengthen universal best proactices focused on community, content and commerce, thinking with mobility first.   

The first Board Meeting will commence September 25, 2013!

The Brave New World of M-Commerce

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Written by Ernie Diaz, CMO, Web Presence in China (June 2012)

Our grasp of e-commerce’s effect on marketing compares to a 1960s American’s grasp of 2012 from watching The Jetsons. We’re like turf-scrabbling Britons circa 650 AD, to whom the spur is available, but have yet to see the charging, fully-armored knight whom the spur made possible, or the feudalism that followed him.

We see the smart-phones and tablets, most likely have one or both, but most assuredly can’t concept the changes they will soon wreak upon society, any more than Tom Sawyer could concept wearing his hula hoop, instead of hitting it along with a stick. “In my day,” we’ll soon be telling a nephew trying to ignore us, “we saw what we wanted offline, searched for it on Google, then went to the website and bought it. And we liked it that way!”

If you’re a fuddy-duddy older than the internet, you may still be hip enough to see that conventional advertising is about as compelling as a leprous third-world vendor waving his shoddy wares in a tourist’s face. Meanwhile, visionary Kelly Stickel, founder of Remodista, is busy mapping the dreamscapes that all our connectivity is making possible, and helping brands find routes along these new maps.

Kelly has a KISS term for this new realm of hyper-engagement, a realm in which the successful retailer must make the leap from seller to ally, to enabler, to co-brander; the term is mobility. Ergo, start thinking of e-commerce as mobile commerce.

But first, try to put yourself in an objective, alien-observing-earthlings mindset about the mobile age, when a live conversation is never as important as an incoming message, where offline experiences don’t count unless they’re shared via Facebook via Instagram. Bemoan this dawning age of constant distraction all you like, but ignore the big picture at your marketing peril. For those coming of age in the Internet Age, offline reality is dull, lifeless, predictable. Only when augmented by connectivity, filtered through a hypercube of apps and social platforms, do our physical surroundings merit attention.

You can already see the beginnings of mobile-enhanced reality in retail innovations such as clothing store hangers which display the number of likes the item has garnered on Facebook. An optimistic futurist, Kelly has much praise for the interactive, two-way empowerment that m-commerce promises both retail organization and consumer: rewards, games, and enriching info one way; surveys, reviews, and recommendations the other.

Such empowerment is hardly a prime directive for big organizations, who prefer business as usual to new challenges. But as with all massive, tech-enabled societal shifts – Bronze to Iron, Agriculture to Industry – today belongs to the daring. Kelly acknowledges that there are no correct recipes yet, but certainly correct questions, among them, “What should we do IMMEDIATELY?”

Don’t bother asking the customers. They don’t know what they want, only that they like you better the more mobility you offer them.

So what does the near-future of m-commerce look like? At the risk of sounding like a 1949 issue of Popular Science envisioning the year 2000, let us paint a near-future picture: A young woman is advised by her iPhone 9’s Siri that the cute boutique she just passed features Catwalk. Every time she comes out of the fitting room with a new outfit, a store camera snaps pics displayed on a screen for her to select or discard. Catwalk bundles all the kept pics, along with a background and soundtrack she selects, into a audio-enhanced slideshow uploaded to her Facebook page, with all her Catwalk friends alerted. She can decide on her purchase by the first few votes and comments that come in, or have the clothes she selects delivered later, when more of her friends have a chance to respond. But because she has over 5000 friends in her network, the store clears her for an immediate 15% discount on all items, after she “likes” them.

Maybe American consumers can be relied on to participate in such shameless attention-seeking, but what about people from countries with longer working hours and lower average disposable income, like China? Well there’s a reason 20% of Apple’s global revenue comes from China, and sites here are offering pre-orders for the officially un-released iPhone 5, and it ain’t because the apple symbolizes peace in Chinese culture. Over one hundred million 3G phones have been sold here in the first half of 2012 alone, bulging with apps and Chinese social platform compatibility. The Brave New World of m-commerce knows no borders, but it will know every last detail about Chinese consumers, who will volunteer the information for free downloads and discounts.

- See more at: http://www.web-presence-in-china.com/blog/12-07/brave-new-world-m-commerce#sthash.499uy2Vu.dpuf

Time Square. Global Mobility in action. According to data from the GSMA and ITU global mobile penetration is projected to surpass the 100% level in 2014 (active mobile subscriptions relative to global population). There are currently 6.8 billion subscriptions across the globe i.e. 96%of the world’s over 7 billion population. Individual subscriber penetration is projected to hit 48.5% in 2013 with 3.4 billion subscribers.

http://businesstech.co.za/news/mobile/37762/more-sims-than-people-in-2013/

Global Retail Mobility: C-H-A-N-G-E

Written by Remodista 

As hardware costs come down in price and education is available to every individual, a new global middle class is emerging.Global mobility is transforming consumer interaction and engagement at astounding speed. Innovative companies will help drive this change, helping to re-define and disrupt the digital and physical consumer landscape.

More than 3.5 billion citizens in developing economies are expected to have access to the Internet in 2025, more than 2 billion of them via mobile Internet services.

In 2013 the number of smartphones and tablets in use is expected to exceed the installed base of personal computers. By 2025, nearly 80 percent of all Internet connections could be through mobile devices.

Half of the $10 trillion global economic impact could come from using mobile devices to spread Internet access in developing regions (MGI).

We need a globally connected community built with diversity, in order to evolve emerging markets to (1) meet the new demands as EM consumers are convince to become fans of many USA brands and (2) baselining best practices for building and executing global retail mobility.

Mobility is welcoming new leaders to the global table.

Education, awareness, elevating thoughts-leaders, and mentoring are needed to create a community that will continue to generate decades of leaders in a global community.

Women leadership and a focus on global mobility are critical for sustained growth as we enter the next generation of consumer interaction.

Shares of companies with a market capitalization of more than $10 billion and with women board members outperformed comparable businesses with all-male boards by 26 percent worldwide over a period of six years, according to a report by the Credit Suisse Research Institute, created in 2008 to analyze trends expected to affect global markets.

The National Center for Education Statistics, 2012 Digest of Education Statistics showed girls are increasingly outperforming boys in the classroom. Women are earning about 57% of the undergraduate and 60% of the master’s degrees in the United States.

A 2008 survey conducted by the Girl Scouts of America showed that girls are just as likely as boys to have leadership aspirations. Women are powerful, transformational, and will be at the table partnering to drive our global economy forward.

Women comprising only 4% of the Fortune 500 CEO positions belongs to a past generation of thought. We are here to accelerate and elevate innovation with our current and future leaders.

By 2015, wireless Web use is expected to exceed wired use. As referenced in the McKinsey Global Institute’s disruptive technologies brief, the mobile internet could generate annual economic impact of $3.7 trillion to $10.8 trillion globally by 2025.

Remodista Slideshare - Global Mobility

The size of the global middle class will increase from 1.8 billion in 2009 to 3.2 billion by 2020, and 4.9 billion by 2030. The bulk of this growth is fueled by Asia which will represent 66% of the global  middle class population and 59% of middle-class consumption by 2030 (compared to 28% and 23% respectively in 2009).

The OECD’s growth projection for the Middle East, North Africa, and Central/South America are also notable- both doubling in consumer spending by 2030. Device manufactures, carriers, and payment providers are targeting these markets now laying the ground work for the coming expansive growth.

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