The Workshop at Macy’s Inaugural Year Wrap-up

Jun. 6, 2011 – “It was an amazing week,” is how Macy’s Group Vice President of Minority Merchandising and Vendor Development Shawn Outler sums up the first Workshop at Macy’s. 40 participants from 22 up-and-coming companies converged on Macy’s Herald Square headquarters in New York for a week of in-depth training designed to help them evolve their businesses into successful partnerships with large-scale retailers like Macy’s.

The culmination of an intense process of planning, reviewing applications, interviewing candidates, and choosing the final participants, the Workshop was a life-changing experience for many of the participants, says Outler. “The entire week was strong; the participants had so many breakthrough moments. You could see things starting to click for them, as they began to see how many more opportunities they have than they’ve realized,” she said.

The week-long workshop covered the essentials of building and growing a business sustainably, and the realities of working with a major retailer. Carol’s Daughter founder Lisa Price led a master class on keys to successfully partnering with Macy’s; her presentation was warmly received by the participants, who were delighted to meet and learn from Price. Participants also learned how to identify the customer, best practices for achieving excellence, and financial management for sustained growth. Each session was designed to build on the next to create an in-depth understanding of the business and how to succeed.

There were many “lightbulb moments” through the week, says Outler, noting that while many participants came in focused on pitching their lines, they came away understanding how the merchants think and how to build the relationship. The financial management sessions, led by Elizabeth Thornton of Babson College, were especially eye-opening for participants. By graduation day on Friday, they were seeing the business in a new light. “This is life-changing,” said one. “It affects not only our lives, but the lives of everyone in our company as well as our business model…it has a long-term effect on our success.”

Outler hopes the program will be even bigger next year, as awareness spreads and the participants talk about their experiences. “There’s a lot of promise here,” she says.

Applications for the 2012 program will be accepted beginning in late 2011, with the 2012 Workshop slated for next spring.