2019 Top Women in Retail

Top Women in Retail Over the Years (Plus Female Founders)

By: Joe Keenan

This article originally appeared on Total Retail, sister brand of Women in Retail Leadership Circle.

Women in Retail Leadership Circle (WIRLC), sister brand of Total Retail, recently released its ninth annual list of the Top Women in Retail. This annual feature, a joint effort of Total Retail and WIRLC, shines a spotlight on the women leading some of the top retail organizations and brands in the industry today. Over the course of the nine years that we’ve produced the Top Women in Retail issue, 172 female executives have been honored. This week, I want to spotlight some of our past honorees, and include a notable tip or excerpt from their profile. In addition, I will identify some of the leading startup retail companies founded by our women honorees over the years. (To see this year’s list of Top Women in Retail, as well as access the full-length interviews for all 16 honorees, download the report today.)

  • Jane Elfers, President, CEO and Director, The Children’s Place (2011). “Deliver a consistent and compelling message across all marketing channels. Self-directed purchasing is where the customer is headed. Our job is to make sure they can shop our brand when and where they choose.”
  • Diane Sullivan, CEO, President, Chairman of the Board, Caleres (2012). Diane joined the company as president in 2004 and added chief operating officer to her responsibilities in 2006. She became CEO and president in 2011, and took on the additional role of chairman of the board beginning in 2014. Prior to joining Caleres, she was vice chairman of the footwear group at Phillips-Van Heusen. Diane also served as president and COO of The Stride Rite Corporation and gained extensive consumer brand management and sales expertise at several companies including M&M/Mars and The Mennen Company.
  • Elisabeth Charles, Chief Marketing Officer, Petco (2013; she is currently the CMO at Rodan + Fields). “Develop your marketing and creative campaigns with a multichannel, multimedia view from the onset so that they can be effectively and consistently delivered across every customer touchpoint for a seamless customer experience.”
  • Barbara Bradley Baekgaard, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Vera Bradley (2014). “Shop through your customers’ eyes. Visit and shop through all channels of your business often and take note of what went well and what needs improvement. Stay focused on your customer, as she’s the No. 1 priority.”
  • Rose Marcario, President and CEO, Patagonia (2015). “Customers’ shopping habits are changing, and we need to change to accommodate them. Some solutions require technology, but the key is you have to make it easy for your customer to have access to your products wherever they are sold.”
  • Adrienne Lofton, Senior Vice President, Global Brand Management, Under Armour (2016). On the best advice she has ever received: “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s a reality that I’ve learned on the job and in my personal life over the past 15-plus years, and it wasn’t until I embraced this notion that I truly started to see the successes I desired and had worked so hard to achieve. The reality is that we will all be tested with various challenges while on the job, and it’s how you respond in those moments of crisis or pressure that ultimately define your career.”
  • Laura Alber, CEO, Williams-Sonoma, Inc. (2017). On what she enjoys most about working in the retail industry: “Retail is both an art and science; it’s the cycle of creativity and analysis. Our customers continue to evolve, and I’m excited about the challenge of constantly innovating in a way to better service our customers.”
  • Jocelyn Wong, Chief Marketing Officer, Lowe’s (2018). On the biggest challenge she faced in her career and how she solved it: “My tenure as CMO at Family Dollar taught me a great deal about leading through adversity. Shortly after I arrived, Family Dollar was acquired by its competitor, Dollar Tree, which created significant challenges within the business and among its employees. As you can imagine, a change of this magnitude impacts employees personally, and many started to question their job security. It was during this period of great change and uncertainty that I realized my role as a leader in the company, and had to focus on what I could control without having all the answers. I had to separate my own fears to inspire my team and be the leader they needed.”
  • Neela Montgomery, CEO, Crate & Barrel Holdings, Inc. (2019). On the new retail technology she believes will have the biggest impact in 2019, and why: “Augmented reality. People want to see products in their own rooms. We’ve already begun to use AR, however, 2019 will be the year of customer adoption and scale.”

Ladies Who Launch

Here’s a list of some of the female executives we’ve featured over the last nine years that have launched their own businesses:

  • Susan Gregg Koger, ModCloth
  • Eileen Spitalny, Fairytale Brownies
  • Ali Wing, giggle
  • Amy Jain, BaubleBar
  • Leigh Rawdon, Tea Collection
  • Daniella Yacobovsky, BaubleBar
  • Chantel Waterbury, Chloe + Isabel
  • Yael Aflalo, Reformation
  • Jessica Herrin, Stella & Dot
  • Rebecca Minkoff, Rebecca Minkoff
  • Jennifer Hyman, Rent the Runway
  • Sarah LaFleur, MM.LaFleur
  • Rachel Blumenthal, Rockets of Awesome
  • Georgie Greville, Milk Makeup
  • Tina Sharkey, Brandless
  • Kendra Scott, Kendra Scott

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