Last night I had the distinct pleasure of attending the Fashion Group International Arizona Spring Trend event with special guest Alexandra Wilkis Wilson the co-founder of the wildly successful and popular site Gilt.com.
It’s always a treat to attend the trend report even though as a blogger and Fashion Editor I am immersed in the trends as they are coming down the runway. One of my favorite trends of the season is the “Sandaloot”… much like the “Shootie” it’s a hybrid shoe/ boot but this time with a sandal/heel/boot combo. And of course my other favorites – YSL throwbacks to the 70’s, tuxedo’s which always make me feel like Betty Cantroux, plaid which always brings back memories of my grunge days and white… lots and lots of white!
Being a fan of the Gilt site I had previously read up on the makings of this company now valued at over $1 Billion, but it was a far better thing hearing it straight from the mouth of one of the people who created it and lived it.
I have to say, when one attends these type of events with a high profile speaker you never really know what you are in for and Ms. Wilson was a delightful and refreshing surprise; sweet, forthcoming and the nicest person… especially indulging while I gushed over how amazing I think the Gilt business is. If you don’t know much about Gilt.com here’s my Readers Digest-esque version: Wilson and one of her good friends Alexis Maybank who she had attended business school with had an unusual idea to create an invitation only website offering short “flash” sales on high end and luxury fashions. They brought in Kevin Ryan their founding Chairman, along with Mike Bryzek and Phong Nguyen their brilliant engineers.
When the company first started (pre-social networking days) the team reached out to their personal contacts to create their first member “invitation” lists which happened to be just two weeks prior to the site launching. The company was poised to change the landscape of how we shopped. What was once a leisurely affair often taking most of the day would now become a fast paced and competitive rush. The first sale was with Zac Posen just five years ago and now the company includes womens, mens, baby & kids, home, food & wine, city and travel. The journey was not without it’s up and downs but the founders of the company prove that with a little creative quick thinking, persistence and problem solving skills you really can achieve anything. This “little company that could” has really changed the way we shop and the way e-commerce and online start- ups do business. There of course have been a myriad of imitators but Gilt is still on top.
Alexandra Wilson will be at Neiman Marcus tonight for a special event. But if you can’t make it, I highly suggest picking up a copy of Alexandra and Alexis book “By Invitation Only” it’s a fun and inspiring read!
Also to find out more about FGI Arizona