8th Annual HBS Retail and Luxury Goods Conference Apr28

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8th Annual HBS Retail and Luxury Goods Conference

Steven Kolb, HBS Conference keynote speaker

The 8th Annual HBS Retail and Luxury Goods Conference kicked off to a keynote at the Sheraton Commander by Steven Kolb, Chief Executive Officer of the Council of Fashion Designers of America & The CFDA Foundation, who gave a round-up of the exciting history of fashion in America, starting with the of work of Eleanor Lambert, the founder of the CFDA.

A networking session followed, with plenty of hors d’oeuvres and an open bar. I had the pleasure to meet Anya Ayoung Chee, winner of Project Runway season 9, as well as Max Azria, Founder and Executive Chairman of BCBGMAXAZRIAGROUP (thank god I had taken those French classes!). A new friend and I stayed late having drinks and chatting with Julie Bull, Director of Investor Relations at Dillard’s.

The next day of the conference took place at Spangler Hall. After breakfast, we piled into Spangler Hall for a breathtaking keynote by a charming Max Azria. He regaled us withow delightful account of how he came to build a billion-dollar company after simply walking into a bank and asking for several hundred thousand dollars as a 20-something war veteran who had dropped out of school five years ago.

Panel sessions on Emerging Markets and Innovative Business Models followed, before attendees took a break to have lunch and network with professionals from companies such as Louis Vuitton, Lot18, Fab.com, Sears, and Perry Ellis. Finally, there were a last two panel sessions on New Brand Directions as well as Partnering for Potential.

The final keynote was by Frederic Fekkai, the innovator of luxury hair styling and hair care products in the US. He told us his story of how he exported the skills he learned in his native France to create a new and wildly successful line of hair salons and hair care products in New York. His luck and business savvy truly inspired us all.

All in all, $60-something ticket was definitely worth it. The loot bag came with goodies such as a leather passport cover and Moleskine notebook embossed with the BCBG logo,and well as a $100 gift card to ModeWalk.com. A weekend well-spent!

-Maggie Jiang ’14