Vera Wang Papers

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CHARACTERISTICS OF BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: VERA WANG Describe the business leader’s primary business or businesses, highlighting how the leader got started and analyze the leader’s three (3) major business challenges in establishing and/or running the company. Vera Wang began her career in the fashion industry in 1971, working her way up the corporate ladder to Senior Editor for Vogue.

In 1987, she began working for Ralph Lauren, dealing primarily with accessories. In 1987, out of frustration with the lack of options to suit her sophisticated taste, she designed her own wedding gown, commissioning a seamstress to assemble it.

This inspired her to launch Vera Wang Bridal House Ltd. , in the Carlisle Hotel on Madison Avenue, New York City. Her primary target was upper class clientel, initially offering bridal gowns by designers such as Guy Laroche, Arnold Scaasi, Christian Dior and Carolina Herrena.

Her background spawned her birth as a real player into the fashion world: the discipline she learned from competitive ice skating; the trips to Paris for fashion shows with her mother, as a child; her high-priced education; the mentors she acquired during her career at Vogue and with Ralph Lauren, who broadened her knowledge of fashion.

Her background and understanding for the need to fill a niche, in the fashion industry, fuels her passion for designing elegant apparel.

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Challenge No. 1: Her father removed the burden of start-up costs by giving her $4 million to begin her venture. $1 million was invested to redecorate the two story soon-to-be boutique, while she and her right hand man, Chet Hazzard, sold bridal gowns from a hotel suite, in 1990. CHARACTERISTICS OF BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: VERA WANG In a relatively short amount of time, Vera Wang was custom designing bridal gowns for a market of wealthy clients.

Challenge No. 2: Upon the opening of her bridal boutique, Vogue ran a six page spread about Mrs. Wang. This reduced the burden of initial marketing/advertising for her new company, as it attracted a wealth of eager brides-to-be. Thanks to Vogue’s article, she’d made a name for herself, before she’d really done much to plant herself in the fashion design industry. Her philosophy in business was to create a lifestyle of luxury and sophistication for women. By 2000, Vera Wang was worth an estimated $80 million, after adding to her product lines.

Who Owns Vera Wang

Evening gowns, both modern and elegant, were worn by celebrities to special events, providing her with a massive amount of advertising, as her gowns were flashed all over national television and news articles. Bridesmaids dresses were introduced. She’d signed licensing agreements for shoes (Rossimoda), furs (Newmont Group) and fragrance (Unilever), all before the year 2000. $10 million in sales in 1995 to a value of an estimated $80 million in 2000, is clearly an indicator that Vera Wang understood the need for growth with demand. She’d opened her second fullsize boutique in 1998. Her first fashion show was held in New York in 1998, as well.

Another boost to global brand identity was her 1994 handbeaded ensemble, worn by figure skater, Nancy Kerrigan, at the 1994 Olympics. There was no shortage of public recognition, whereas marketing and advertising proves to be very costly for business owners, particularly at start-up. CHARACTERISTICS OF BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: VERA WANG By 1994, she’d expanded by selling bridal and formal wear at upscale department stores, such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. Made-to-order couture designs, lingerie, jewelry, eyewear, footwear, sportswear and home products were added to broaden the product line, over the course of several years.

By 2002, Vera Wang had two factories, one in Florida and one in Ohio. By that time, she also owned dozens of boutiques. Her desire to reach all classes of clientel led her to release her wedding guide: Vera Wang on Weddings, in 2001. She realized that not everyone could afford a Vera Wang gown. This was the means to reach out to those who wouldn’t buy a Vera Wang gown. In 2006, she furthered her efforts to reach a broader base of clientel by releasing the Vera Wang Read-to-Wear line, which she claims to have taken a financial loss in. Her plan is to make her product “widely known and widely worn”.

The Ready-to-Wear line is exclusively featured at Kohl’s department store, affordable to the less wealthy customer. Challenge No. 3: Another challenge Vera Wang has faced is the shorter turn around times between shipments of new lines. She’s had to adjust her line of thinking and operations to suit the need for a new line, every couple of months, rather than the twice a year that it once was. This also reduces the time to select which pieces will be successful, in each new line, increasing the risk for poor sales, should they make the wrong choices in these selections.

Not only is selection of pieces important (as trends and climate vary by area), but they are allotted less time to make such decisions as what sources for material they will use, where different components will be made and assembled and what path of shipment will be utilized. CHARACTERISTICS OF BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: VERA WANG Analyze this business leader’s leadership style and discuss how he or she has adapted to cultural differences and how he or she operates the business effectively in global markets. Her leadership style reduces the pains, somewhat, in the challenge just mentioned.

She’s been quoted as stating, “You’re only as good as your team”. Executives, who work for her, assist her in making these decisions. These selections take place at design meetings, between her and Vera Wang executives, as time for a new product release approaches. This would suggest that Vera Wang illustrates a participative leadership style, where important decisions, such as which pieces will be featured in each retail season, are made as a group. She has been quoted as stating the following: “I try to share a tremendous amount with my staffers.

I feel everything (tribulations of the business, the responsibility to people who depend on me to feed their families). Those things are always in my decision making processes”. She understands the theory that the means to achieve brand identity and to keep your name “hot” varies widely across the globe. Her entry into the global market has been slow. She pursues a three tier strategy: luxury, midpriced and disounted, particularly with the weakening economy. She refers to this strategy as “casualized couture”. She has outlined a five year plan for entry into the Asian and European markets.

CHARACTERISTICS OF BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: VERA WANG Evaluate this business leader’s theory of business leadership, management, and methods for motivating individual and group behavior. As previously stated, her staff is a pivotal part of the decision process within the company. They are often a direct part of decisions, creating a sense of ownership, to an extent, in the minds of those who work for her. Vera Wang offers competitive pay, generous salary options, flexible work schedules, paid training and a health and wellness plan, which consists of health, dental, vision and life insurance.

Discuss how this business leader has made an impact on the world through his or her vision, business, and through other areas (e. g. , philanthropy, environmentalism, etc. ). Sophisticated style has always been Vera Wang’s focus, since her entry into the fashion industry. She places high emphasis on customer service and personal relationships (her mentors, her customers, her employees), as well. She stated, “All businesses are personal businesses”. Part of her success is attributed to the importance of personal relationships and connections, to her.

She believes that her commitment, to relationships and connections, is the secret to her success. Not only does her staff sell gowns, but they also offer advice on accessories, hair style, shoe selection, jewelry and flower selection. She wants her customers to feel like they’re getting an upscale product with upscale treatment, whether they’re paying several thousand dollars or CHARACTERISTICS OF BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: VERA WANG double digits for a product. Design, thought, care and attitude are important to her in terms of what she offers customers.

In 1999, her sense of social responsibility was clearly indicated when she turned a Miami Beach, Florida fashion show into a fund raiser for two AIDS organizations. She appeals to the entire market, even though she’s coined as a designer of luxury. References (2011), A&E Television Networks, Vera Wang. biography http://www. biography. com/people/vera-wang-9542398 (2011), InfoMat, Inc. , Vera Wang Fashion Designer http://www. infomat. com/whoswho/verawang. html Kori Ellis, About. com, Vera Wang – Fashion Designer http://accessories. about. om/od/fashiondesigners/p/vera-wang. htm Reference for Business, Encyclopedia of Business, 2nd ed. , Vera Wang Bridal House Ltd. http://www. referenceforbusiness. com/businesses/M-Z/Vera-Wang-Bridal-House-Ltd. html#b (April 13, 2011), [email protected] Wharton, ‘The Democratization of Fashion’: William Fung and Vera Wang on the Implications of Going Global http://knowledge. wharton. upenn. edu/article. cfm? articleid=2752 (May 4, 2009), My Financial Times, Leadership Secrets of Successful CEO’s http://www. myfinancialtimes. com/2009/05/04/LeadershipSecretsOfSuccessfulCEOs. spx CHARACTERISTICS OF BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: VERA WANG Venus Williams, Kelly E. Carter, Come to Win: Business Leaders, Artists, Doctors and Other Visionaries http://books. google. com/books? id=_LhvHY7GACsC&pg=PA76&lpg=PA76&dq=vera+wang+as+a+business+leader&source=bl&ots=Sl_t6qAj_X&sig=HjueX rJMUAdd3zSp2N14N1x6aA0&hl=en&ei=yHvaTsjUIoODtgfTwfWWCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=8&ved=0CFcQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q&f=false Ray A. Smith, (September 17, 2010), The Wall Street Journal, Vera Wang’s Idea of Empire: Marry High, Low and In Between http://online. sj. com/article/SB10001424052748703597204575483643246884082. html Samantha Critchell, (October 27, 2010), The Times Leader, Vera Wang: 20 Tips Learned over 20 Years http://www. timesleader. com/features/Vera-Wang-20-tips-learned-over-20-years-. html Ricky W. Griffin, Management http://books. google. com/books? id=R-OvGf0pvK8C&pg=PA495&dq=vera+wang+and+leadership+style+with+employees&hl=en&ei=k4PaTq7ZC4qCtgez5YXxAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CEUQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

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