Mark Cohen, former CEO of Sears Canada and current CBS professor, discusses the double-edged sword that is holiday spending.
In the market for handsome, handcrafted boots with the durability of a work boot and the style of a fashion boot? Of course you are. Be sure to check out Thursday Boot Co. from Nolan Walsh (MBA '15) and Connor Wilson (MBA '15).
Spotted on the other side of the world: The Luxury Alchemist, the latest from Ketty Maisonrouge, Professor at CBS and President of the Luxury Education Foundation.
Mary Beech, CMO of Kate Spade New York, spoke at the BRITE '14 conference on how brands can clearly establish their voice in every medium in which they participate — digital, social, retail, and traditional — and bring their brand voice to life.
The BRITE conference on brands, innovation and technology is hosted by the Center on Global Brand Leadership at Columbia Business School.
Workin' It is a weekly series where we ask RLG members about their various jobs, internships, and projects in the retail and luxury goods industries. This week, we feature Deborah Li and Lillian Zheng and their start-up, emmajoy. (Interview re-published, with permission, from the CBS Bottom Line)
Introduce us to you/the team/your company, and give us the classic elevator pitch.
Emmajoy is an affordable fast fashion ecommerce store that rewards customers every time they purchase and share with their friends. The shopping experience is gamified so that a customer wants to earn more points to reach the next level of incentives until she becomes an embassador, which allows her to curate a boutique with our items and sell to her friends to earn more points!
Where did you get the name?
The name emmajoy comes from individuals important to us: Emma is Deborah’s young niece and Joyce is Lillian’s younger sister. Our hope is to build a company that embodies the joy that they bring to our lives!
Tell us a little more about who you’re serving, and how you’re reaching your target consumer.
Our initial target consumer is a young, fashion-conscious female between the ages of 18 and 24 who does not have a lot of disposable income but has a lot of time to spend on social media. We are currently focusing in on college-aged women in urban coastal areas as well as those who attend the Big Ten schools in the Midwest, where access to trendy fashion is limited. To reach them, we are building out our social media content (Facebook, Instagram, and PInterest) and using word of mouth campaigns with the help of an amazing social media intern, Evey Karon, from Barnard College.
Where did you get the idea for this?
The idea was conceptualized when we, Lillian and Deborah, met during our first week of orientation in Cluster A. We realized we shared a passion for trendy fashion, but as students again, we did not have the same shopping budgets as before! Our conversation continued and we felt that our different backgrounds complemented each other—Lillian was a supply chain technology consultant and Deborah was conducting business development for a fashion jewelry brand. Emmajoy solidified in October and we have been tweaking it ever since, so that we can build a fun, social, rewardable, fashion community!
What are some of the big obstacles you’re facing, or have faced?
The biggest obstacle that we face is scaling. Since it is currently just the two of us, there’s a lot of work that has to be done and growing bigger is a challenge. But the best part about working with a partner is that you know someone else is going through it with you! As any entrepreneur will tell you, the process can be really lonely, so we’re really glad to have each other and a great relationship.
Which resources have been most helpful to you?
The resources we have had at Columbia Business School are countless: the mentors from formal programs like Columbia Entrepreneurs Lab, the lessons we’ve learned in classes like Lean Launchpad and Launching New Ventures, and the support from the Lang Center to pursue our venture. We also received a lot of great advice from other current student entrepreneurs like David Cho of Sokoglam.com, Jenna Cao of Chiyome, and Eran Mizrahi who co-leads Lions Lab.
How can people contact you? (email address, website, blog, etc)
Our site, www.shopemmajoy.com launched on Valentine’s Day with our jewelry collection and we will be launching our apparel collection at the end of the month [Ed. Note: The apparel collection has since launched}. People can also stay up-to-date by liking us atwww.facebook.com/shopemmajoy, or following us on Instagram and Twitter (@shopemmajoy).
Missed #retailrevolution? See what attendees had to say on Instagram.
Workin' It is a weekly series where we ask RLG members about their various jobs, internships, and projects in the retail and luxury goods industries. This week, we ask Alexis Beechen about her internship with M.M. LaFleur.
What were you doing before you came to CBS?
Account management in advertising
Tell us a little bit about M.M. LaFleur.
MM LaFleur was founded by two Bain consultants who were tired of the workwear options available to women. They partnered with a former Zac Posen designer to create a brand with a mission to dress women of purpose. All of their fabrics are imported from Europe but the dresses are made in the garment district in NYC.
What are you doing for M.M. LaFleur as an intern?
I am working on social media strategy and analytics, so bringing a lot of the tools that I learned from working on major brands to help them quantify their performance and standardize their processes.
Do you see much crossover between what you were doing in advertising and what you’re doing with M.M LaFleur?
Definitely - it's great to be able to share the tricks and knowledge I learned working in advertising with a brand that I really believe in.
Which classes of yours have been particularly useful in your internship?
I actually think I'm much quicker in excel thanks to corp finance and statistics. I'm currently in professor Stephen's social media in digital Marketing strategy class and have applied some of his rules to evaluate whether we should move forward with certain content.
What is your favorite project you’ve worked on so far? What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned?
The brand partnered with an amazing artist, Mark Wagner, who uses only dollar bills to create his pieces. We used one of his designs on a scarf to make a statement about working women and money. I helped in marketing the scarf and it was so interesting to work through pricing and a channel strategy to promote the piece since it's very different from what the brand normally makes.
On a slightly unrelated note, you’ve been very involved with a great organization, Dress for Success, for a number of years. Tell us a bit about the organization and what you’ve been doing with them.
I actually connected with MM LaFleur through DFS! It's an amazing organization that helps underprivileged women get into the workforce, first by giving them an appropriate interview outfit, but then also providing support groups, financial literacy, and career counseling so that they stay employed and progress through their careers. I have had amazingly powerful experiences helping women feel confident in how they look and gain self-esteem through career success.
See Warby Parker's CEO, Neil Blumenthal, speak about disruption and consumer experience at the CBS Center on Global Brand Leadership's BRITE '14 conference.