Wharton Retail Conference 2011 Re-Cap


Wharton Retail Conference 2011 Re-Cap

The Keynote speakers were Stacey Bendet, founder of Alice + Olivia, and Veronica Trenk, managing partner at Bulgari  (owned by the famed LVMH). What tips and cool facts did we learn? Read on…

But first, for more information about the conference (and what you missed!) go to the Wharton Graduate Retail website.


Stacey Bendet, Founder of Alice + Olivia


1. She loves dressing up. She arrived in a dramatic fur collared coat and her outfit was topped off with a huge hair accessory. Glamourous.

2. She started off creating pants (by using upholstery fabric for curtains! surprised that worked?!). She threw parties at the Russian Tea Room in LA and her first show featured 25 pairs of pants. And not surprisingly, her nickname was Staceypants to her friends.

3. She’s constantly prioritizing and has two daughters, one of which she brought on stage.

4. After selling to Barney’s, she teamed up with Andrew Rosen, the founder of Theory and he became her partner.

5. Alice + Olivia is the number 1 brand on Shopbop and the just launched their own shoe line. They will most likely not be producing another shoe line with Payless because they’re in that business. Also, look out for their jewelry and scarves, debuting soon!


Veronica Trenk, Managing Partner, Bulgari Corporation of America (LVMH)

1. Why is it sometimes spelled bulgari and other times looks as if it is bvlgari? Well, ‘v’ in latin is ‘u’. Also don’t forget to pronounce it with the emphasis on the ‘u’!

2. From South Africa and with no college degree, Veronica worked her way up and managed to beat expectations.

3. Bulgari is a lifestyle brand and even has its own hotel in London! They believe in the power of beauty to enrich lives.

4. They’ve faced the challenge of discounting and realized that their pricing is non-negotiable.

5. Veronica reminds us to understand the product (Bulgari salesmen are trained extensively and understand why its products command high prices) and know who the customer is (in addition, customers of all type are treated equally– you never know if someone in a T shirt and sneakers is there to seriously buy!).


 Aaron P. Wolfe, Principal, Sun Capital

1. Prior to joining Sun Capital in 2002, Aaron worked at a boutique investment bank, Harris Williams & Co. (Wharton track?)

2. Sun Capital focuses on distressed control investments and has about $8 billion in capital. (And in my opinion is a great way to combine finance and retail concentrations in a future job!)

3. They own Vince, The Limited, ShopKo V&D, and MARSH among others… ahhh don’t we all love Vince?

4. They sold Mattress Firm and made a 70x return after creating a new growth model, adding items for sale, etc.


Check out the website for even more information and bio’s of the many speakers!


Elonia McHenry

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