Panel Topics:

#1: From the Ground Up: Building a Successful Retail Venture

This panel will explore how individuals from a diversity of backgrounds have built successful retail or luxury businesses. Each of the panelists brings a unique story of a journey filled with inspiration, frustration, and innumerable lessons on how to build a business in the fashion and retail spaces. They will discuss a range of topics including defining a brand, raising financing, creating a culture, establishing hiring practices, gaining access to retail channels, and developing manufacturing capabilities.

Moderator: Professor Walter Salmon, Harvard Business School

Eva Jeanbart-Lorenzotti, Founder and CEO,  (
Dee Murthy, Co-founder and CEO, Five Four Clothing (
Suzanne Obershain, Principal, Castanea Partners (invested in Ippolita in 2007) (
Lauren Sharfman, CEO, Ippolita / Seno Jewelry LLC (

#2: E-commerce: Creating Compelling Online Shopping Experiences

This panel will discuss considerations for managing multiple distribution channels and the increasing importance of e-commerce over other sales strategies. Panelists represent companies that sell through a range of channels, from traditional wholesale, to retail specialty stores, catalogs, and exclusively online. They will discuss the reasons behind different distribution strategies, how to manage a brand across sales channels, and the current and future trends surrounding the e-commerce shopping experience.This panel will discuss approaches to capturing the growing online retail shopping market. Panelists represent a variety of e-commerce models, including high-end fashion, shoes, brand-name discount, and event-based e-commerce. They will discuss business considerations relevant to each of their companies–from winning consumers and optimizing the online shopping experience, to managing inventory and fulfilling orders.

Moderator: Professor Zeynep Ton, Harvard Business School

Darcy Penick, Retail Team Leader, Shopbop (
Maria Renz, Vice President, Endless (
Rachel Shechtman, Founder, Cube Ventures (
Mark Weinberg, SVP Strategic Planning, Retail Convergence, Inc. ( )

#3: Sustainability and Charity Trends in Retail & Apparel

According to EarthPledge, “Fashion uses more water than any industry other than agriculture. At least 8,000 chemicals are used to turn raw materials into textiles and 25% of the world’s pesticides are used to grow non-organic cotton.” Moreover, many retail and apparel companies employ labor practices that are sometimes morally questionable. This panel will discuss the emergence of green and fair-trade products within apparel and luxury goods. Pioneers in this niche market will discuss their unique business models, changing consumer preferences and trends, difficulties working in green and fair-trade businesses, and the role that retail and apparel companies should play in global issues over the next decade.

Moderator: Professor Michael Toffel, Harvard Business School

Rajesh Anandan, Vice President of Corporate and Foundation Partnerships for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF (
Howard Brown, Founder and President, Stewart + Brown (
Lauren Bush, Founder and CEO, Lauren Pierce and FEED Projects ( )
Sarah Endline, Founder and CEO, SweetRiot (
Melissa Riggs, Director of Philanthropy and Communications, Nest (

#4: Luxury for the Masses: From Strategic Partnerships to Weekend Rentals

Flash sales bring high-end goods to the masses at deeply discounted prices. Luxury designers partner with mass market retailers to bring exclusive designs in everyday fabrics. Emerging entrepreneurs rent one of a kind apparel and accessories to trendy women through weekend rentals. This is the changing face of luxury and the trend towards fashion… at any (low) price. Panelists from a variety of companies and backgrounds will speak to the different ways in which designers and retailers bring high-fashion at affordable prices and how this trend has changed since the economic crisis.

Moderator: Professor Janice Hammond, Harvard Business School

Robert Deeming, Director of Strategic Projects, Gilt Groupe  (
Daria Burke, Head of Customer Experience, Rent the Runway (
Adrian Gill, Vice President of the International Footwear Division, Puma (
Christian Siriano, Designer, Project Runway Winner  (
LuAnn Via, CEO, Payless Shoes (