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Meanwhile back at the Brick and Mortar scene….

October 31, 2014 Leave a comment

Uniqlo, A.P.C., and Others Are All Part of L.A.’s Boutique Blitz

September 23, 2014 Fashion Add a comment

Finding yourself a little lost at the watercooler as coworkers swoon over the latest store openings? If you don’t know your Muji from your Uniqlo, allow us to bring you up to speed on the flurry of clothing and jewelry shops that launched in L.A. this year.

A.P.C.
The goods:
Crisp cardigans, black-and-white-striped boat-neck shirts, fitted denim, trench coats, leather bags.
Who shops here: Effortlessly dressed Parisian women- and those who wish to look like them.
8420 Melrose Pl., West Hollywood, 323-297-0414.

Bonobos
The goods:
Well-made classic menswear (suits, blazers, chinos, oxford shirts) in Easter egg colors.
Who shops here: With-it dads who adhere to the philosophy “real men wear pink.”
101 S. La Brea Ave., L.A., 323-954-6800.

COS
The goods:
Tailored everyday clothing with flair (asymmetric-hem T-shirts, leather tank tops) from the folks who brought you H&M. Opens this month.
Who shops here: Quiet trendsetters.
357 N. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills.

The Fisher Project
The goods:
An offshoot of Eileen Fisher that offers younger customers slimmer versions of the brand’s slouchy silhouettes.
Who shops here: Career gals who favor an edgy, relaxed style.
113 S. Robertson Blvd., Beverly Grove, 424-302-0467.

Gypsy05
The goods:
Tie-dyed scarves, bohemian maxi dresses, tribal-print jumpsuits.
Who shops here: Sophisticated moms with a hippie streak.

8811 Alden Dr., Beverly Grove, 424-302-0632.

Irene Neuwirth
The goods:
Statement jewelry—some of it one-of-a-kind—set with precious stones (diamonds, opals) and rare gems (chryoprase, rhodochrosite). Opens this month.
Who shops here: Elegant women who seem to be perpetually bound for the Greek islands.
8458 Melrose Pl., West Hollywood.

The Kooples
The goods: Rock and roll-inspired ensembles (think Patti Smith) from a company intent on pushing coupledom; its advertising campaign features androgynous twosomes in matching outfits.
Who shops here:Those who are no longer single.
100 S. Robertson Blvd., Beverly Grove, 424-335-0041.

Muji
The goods:
Durable organic cotton clothing for the comfort driven.
Who shops here: Stylish sleepwalkers who believe that daywear should be as cozy as pj’s.
7021 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, 323-785-2013.

Uniqlo
The goods:
Affordable basics with an East Coast preppie vibe (plaid shirts, leggings, ironic tees). Opens this month.
Who shops here: Recovering American Apparel addicts.
Beverly Center, 8500 Beverly Blvd., Beverly Grove.

Zadig & Voltaire
The goods:
Rebellious takes on sheer paneled blouses, boxy sweaters, and structured dresses that pair well with a confident attitude.
Who shops here: Fashionable urbanites with no time for tourists or last-season sales.
8640 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, 310-358-9616.

– See more at: http://www.lamag.com/theclutch/uniqlo-p-c-part-l-s-boutique-blitz/#sthash.BNNUvv3Y.dpuf

Categories: Uncategorized

A brief history of Levi’s and wannabe’s

October 31, 2014 Leave a comment

New Short Book 11 1 14

A brief history of blue jeans

by Robert Hackett @rhhackett SEPTEMBER 18, 2014, 7:21 AM EDT
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Who would have thought a pair of pants would morph into an icon? Here, a few highlights in the long story of an American pioneer.

From workaday outerwear to the laps of multi-billionaires, blue jeans have withstood the wear and tear of time as an American icon.

Originally called overalls (even without the straps), the pants evolved from a practical solution to protect the laboring limbs of workers to a style suiting just about every demographic. The garment has fit the thighs of miners, farmhands, cowboys, rebels, hippies, rockers, hip-hop artists, fashionistas and businesspeople alike. Even Apple founder Steve Jobs adopted them, along with a black mock turtleneck, as his signature look.

Heck, you’ve probably worn a pair, too.

So how did a humble Gold Rush-era innovation in trousers come to define a nation? Fortune spoke with Levi Strauss historian and archivist Tracey Panek about the evolution of the attire. With her help and some research of our own, here’s a selection of the most important moments in denim history.

1967: Paul Newman: denim-on-denim. Enough said.
Photo: Getty Images

1853

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Photo: Fotosearch/Getty Images
Bavarian immigrant and entrepreneur Levi Strauss cashes in on the Gold Rush by moving from San Francisco to found a wholesale dry goods business, Levi Strauss & Co. He didn’t mine for gold—directly.

1873

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Photo: Courtesy Levi Strauss & Co. Archives
Latvian émigré and tailor Jacob Davis and his fabric supplier, Strauss, patent and manufacture the “XX” pants, later dubbed the 501. The U.S. government grants the pair U.S. Patent No. 139,121 for rivet-reinforced pants under the heading, “IMPROVEMENT IN FASTENING POCKET-OPENINGS.”

1914

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Photo: Everett Collection
Silent film actor William Hart stars in massively popular westerns wearing jeans, pioneering the image of the blue-jean-clad Western hero. After WWI, his celebrity gets a boost as the U.S. film industry—unlike that in war-torn Europe—flourishes
1939

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Photo: Bettmann/Corbis
John Wayne stars in the western film Stagecoach wearing a par of Levi’s 501s. There are some things a man just can’t run away from…

1940s

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Photo: PhotoQuest/Getty Images
U.S. soldiers and sailors serving overseas act as inadvertent ambassadors for jeans, introducing them as casual wear around the globe.

1951

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Photo Courtesy of Bing Crosby Enterprises
Singer-actor extraordinaire Bing Crosby gets turned away from a fancy Canadian hotel for wearing all denim. Levi & Strauss sends him a custom denim tuxedo with a “Notice to All Hotel Men” declaring the outfit acceptable formal attire, thus allegedly originating the term “Canadian tuxedo.” (Richard Branson ordered and wore a replica recently.)
1953

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Photo: Getty Images
Marlon Brando makes the 501 even edgier in the classic motorcycle gang film The Wild One. Hey Johnny, what are you rebelling against?

1954

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Photo: John Swope —Time LIfe Pictures/Getty
Norma jeans? Marilyn Monroe pumps up the sex appeal of blue jeans in River of No Return. A New York Times critic observes, “It is a toss-up whether the scenery or the adornment of Marilyn Monroe is the feature of greater attraction.” Guess jeans later recreates the pose in ads featuring Anna Nicole Smith, among other models.

1954

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Photo: Advertising Archive/Courtesy Everett Collection
Got a light? The marketing campaign “Marlboro Man” debuts as the tobacco industry seeks to make filtered cigarettes more masculine through association with cowboy attire, including denim of course. Giddyup.
1967

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Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane records trippy radio advertisements for white Levi’s.

1967

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Photo: Getty Images
Paul Newman: denim-on-denim. Enough said.

1970

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Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Hey ho, let’s go. Punk rockers The Ramones liked their jeans cut snug and skinny. They showed off their signature look on the cover of their 1977 record, “Rocket to Russia.” Not even ripped knees could stop those cretins from hoppin’.
1976

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Photo: Evelyn Floret— The Life Images Collection/Getty
Heiress Gloria Vanderbilt launches her designer denim jeans. Never one to miss a beat, Saturday Night Live comedian Gilda Radner later jokes, “She’s taken her good family name and put it on the asses of America.”

1979

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Photo: Warner Bros/Everett Collection
Scantily clad Catherine Bach wears ultra-short “Daisy Dukes” in The Dukes of Hazzard TV series. Celeb Jessica Simpson later reprises the role on film in 2005.

1980s

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Photo: Ron Galella—WireImage
Hip-hop popularizes baggy jeans. On the opposite end of the spectrum, punk rockers and metalheads stick to skinny jeans.
1981

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Photo: Gaslight Advertising Archives
Fifteen-year-old supermodel Brooke Shields shocks audiences with in a Calvin Klein designer jeans ad. “You want to know what comes between me and my Calvins?” she asks. “Nothing.”.

1984

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Tom Gralish—Zumapress.com
Born in the USA? Heck, yeah. Bruce Springsteen’s 501-swadled buttocks stand guard in front of an American flag. You can bet he danced in the dark in those, too.

2000

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Photo: Mark J. Terrill—AP
“Time magazine names Levi’s 501s the “Fashion Item of the 20th Century.” A year later, Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears take that counsel to the extreme on the red carpet at the 2001 American Music Awards.
2009

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Photo: Haraz N. Ghanbari—AP
President Barack Obama throws the opening pitch at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in what commentators described as “mom” jeans. He later tells comedian Zach Galifianakis, “The truth is, generally I look very sharp in jeans.”

2014

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Photo: Kevin Terrell—AP
The Field of Jeans. Levi’s Stadium opens as the new home of the San Francisco 49ers. And so blue jeans come full circle, from gold rush to pass rush.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Levi’s Underwear

October 31, 2014 Leave a comment

MAD Projects Industries has stripped down Levi’s Basics to a bare minimum. Undergarments are packaged multi-functionally with a universal substrate of wood. The boxer Brief is pouched in kraft paper, slipped into a cardboard box and embellished with a polka-dotted match-strike. The “Truck” is stored in a tray box, printed with wood grain and finished with the garment logo. Finally, rediscovered Long Socks of Mr. Strauss are “hipsterified” and tucked inside a mason jar with a bonus needle and thread.

 Levis_Basics_Packaging_051314_hr-1.jpg

“The 200 series box is designed as a working match strike. The 300 series is a resealable Tyvek bag, perfect for keeping coffee grounds fresh. And the 400 series is made of authentic wood paneling.

“To launch Levi’s Basics, the brand’s new line of men’s socks, t-shirts and underwear, Mad Projects (the licensee behind the brand) knew they had to think outside of the traditional 3-pack of briefs. With a product that stands out for its traditional denim elements, they wanted a package that was both aesthetically pleasing and functional. Each package of the 3 Series line is designed to be a keepsake, a memento and used for more than just holding boxers on store shelves.”


Categories: Uncategorized

GOP to Kick 7 Million from Voter Rolls in 27 States

October 30, 2014 Leave a comment

Election officials in 27 states, most of them Republicans, have launched a program that threatens a massive purge of voters from the rolls. Millions, especially black, Hispanic and Asian-American voters, are at risk. Already, tens of thousands have been removed in at least one battleground state, and the numbers are expected to climb, according to a six-month-long, nationwide investigation by Al Jazeera America.At the heart of this voter-roll scrub is the InterstateCrosscheck program, which has generated a master list of nearly 7 million names. Officials say that these names represent legions of fraudsters who are not only registered but have actually voted in two or more states in the same election — a felony punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison.

There are 6,951,484 names on the target list of the 28 states in the Crosscheck group; each of them represents a suspected double voter whose registration has now become subject to challenge and removal. According to a 2013 presentation by Kobach to the National Association of State Election Directors, the program is a highly sophisticated voter-fraud-detection system. The sample matches he showed his audience included the following criteria: first, last and middle name or initial; date of birth; suffixes; and Social Security number, or at least its last four digits.

The thing is, they aren’t actually trying to accurately match purported two-state voters. People with different Social Security numbers, and/or different middle names are being accused of being the same person. According to the article, 23% of the names on the Crosscheck list have non-matching middle names. In other words, they are two entirely different people.

In Virginia alone, more than 40,000 have already been flagged as ineligible to vote, thanks to Crosscheck.

I recommend reading the entire article – it’s the sort of piece that leaves a lump in the pit of your stomach. I just hope the DOJ intervenes in time to reverse this outrageous scheme.

http://projects.aljazeera.com/2014/double-voters/index.html

Categories: Uncategorized

How She Leads: Letitia Webster, VF

October 30, 2014 Leave a comment

green biz

How She Leads: Letitia Webster, VF

Thursday, August 14, 2014 – 12:01am

 

Image of Letitia Webster courtesy of VF

 

How She Leads is a regular GreenBiz feature spotlighting the careers of women who have moved into influential roles in sustainable business.

Outdoor enthusiast Letitia Webster’s five years of experience launching and leading the well-regarded North Face sustainability program made her a logical choice to spearhead the corporate-wide initiative at parent company VF, established in 2011.

Since then, Webster has focused on defining processes to help VF’s highly visible brands — including North Face, Timberland and Nautica — deliver on their sustainable business aspirations. Two of her biggest tactical projects: readying VF’s 2014 sustainability report (in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative guidelines) and creating an internal scorecard for tracking and reporting energy and carbon emissions reductions.

What’s up next? VF’s senior director of corporate responsibility shares her ideas for phase two of the program, which will include adopting aggressive water conservation measures and building an in-house wiki for helping brands and business units share best practices, and why she regards sustainability as an “ultra-marathon.”

Heather Clancy: You’ve got quite a few things going on. What’s your top priority?

Letitia Webster: When I got here it was pretty much a clean slate, which is great, but at the same time it wasn’t much to work with. So my first strategy was building a foundation; it was building governance structure, management systems, implementing data management, hiring a staff and team, understanding our footprint, doing measurements. That’s culminating in our first sustainability report that’s going to be coming out in just a couple of months.

My priority is getting that report out, and starting to think about how we transition from sustainability strategy 1.0, which is building a program and building infrastructure, to what I’m calling 2.0, which is unlocking the value of sustainability for the corporation and really thinking about how sustainability can actually drive revenue growth, build brand equity and help the corporation meet our 17 by 17 growth plan — $17 billion [in revenue] by 2017.

Clancy: Who is helping you with that?

Webster: I report into finance. So I report into the head, the CFO and the chief accounting officer and controller. VF is a very financially disciplined company — that’s something that we’re very well known for. I am challenged to really help provide perspective in terms of what is the value for the company. The leadership team is eager, and I think it will only help accelerate our program. So our leaders are thinking about how we integrate sustainability throughout the organization. I think really being able to cement [that concept] in dollars and cents and its value is really going to help. The short answer is finance is really helping me think that through.

Clancy: Where will that lead you first? Is there a particular area that’s got your attention as a result or are you kind of finetuning your priorities underneath that?

Webster: To be honest, it’s a little too early to determine where we’re headed. I think what we’re doing is overlaying our traditional sustainability materiality assessments that we’ve done with stakeholders with our key business strategies and key business drivers, like direct-to-consumer, international, strategy and innovation. Then we’re layering in what is the risk assessment, cost reductions and revenue upside sustainability can bring? Ideally, this will help us identify the big things we need to be focusing in on. Does that make sense?

 VFClancy: OK, let me ask you about something specific: water conservation. What’s new for you on that front? Is there anything in particular?

Webster: Water is one of the biggest impacts we have: water use, not only in the growing of raw materials and the processing of fiber — especially around synthetics and dyeing and finishing — but also in consumer use. So it’s a major issue. Let me back up for just a second here. VF is unique in that we produce 30 percent of our product in our owned and operated factories throughout mostly Central America. That’s very unique [among] apparel companies. What that allows us to do — and we’ve been doing it for 100 years — is really control those costs, right? So we manage those resources, energy and water and materials down to the nano; we’re very careful about how we manage those.

We’ve done a really good job in our own manufacturing [processes] of reducing our water. I’ll give you an example. In our factory in Torreon, Mexico, where it’s a finishing factory, a washhouse, too, we have recycled and are reusing 45 percent of our water right now. We have new technology coming in by the end of the year that will actually recycle water by 85 percent. …

We have a lot of those kinds of examples, especially around wastewater. That’s another big issue for apparel, wastewater, because we use a lot of chemicals. That said, we are embarking on developing an overall water strategy for VF starting next year. That’s the next big thing I’m focused on. We really focused on carbon and energy for the first two years, developing a climate change strategy. We are now moving into water and really thinking about a water strategy: where do we use our water, how do we use our water, where do we have risk in our supply chain around water scarcity, what materials are at risk due to climate change and the impacts it has on water in different regions. Whether it’s flooding or droughts or the need to reallocate water to communities versus agriculture, those are real issues that we have to be paying attention to.

Clancy: What are your thoughts on improving the rate of apparel reuse or repurposing? 

Webster: Obviously a good portion of our products are [made from] cotton, but [in addition] a good portion of our products are synthetics. So if you think about a synthetic, a synthetic is — and this is true for cotton, too — a synthetic is trapped energy. Synthetics are mostly petroleum-based. Many of our products that we’re doing with synthetics are just recycled PET plastic water bottles. Basically what we can do with a North Face jacket that’s a synthetic is re-melt it down and make it into something new. So you need to think about how we reuse that jacket, not just in terms of consumer reuse, but how we take it back and actually make it into something new.

 VFTo me that’s one concept around reuse and recycling. But then there’s that other concept of the sharing economy and how that is just growing and growing and we’re seeing it even in outdoor equipment. A lot of people don’t want to buy one tent for one camping trip every couple of years, so how do we think about our business models and start thinking about how we promote that sharing economy, how do we ensure that we’re having those conversations with the consumers and the customers as well.

Clancy: You’re obviously working on the corporate strategy, but that sits over some very distinct brands known for their environmental policies — NorthFace, Timberland and Nautica among them. How do you give them the freedom to innovate? The fact that you’re working on this big corporate strategy and approach, how does that permeate back to them now? 

Webster: We tell them keep the pedal on the metal and just keep going. We continually encourage them to be innovative, think about sustainability and how it resonates with our consumers, how to make more commercial sustainable products. Our responsibility is when to enable that and how we do enable it. There’s a couple of different ways we can do that. Then, our responsibility is how we share those learnings and best practices with the rest of the organization, right? So we don’t want to inhibit them, but we do want to take those learnings, best practices and share them with the other brands.

One thing we are doing is we’ve got innovation centers, outside of sustainability, that we’re working with to embed sustainability into the innovation process. We’re building very strategic innovation centers. We’ve got one here in Greensboro, N.C., around jeanswear. We have one in Alameda, Calif., that’s part of the North Face building around technical apparel, and we’ve got one around technical footwear based in Stratham, N.H., next to the Timberland office. Those innovation centers are there to absolutely propel those businesses and keep them cutting-edge, and our job is to embed a sustainability lens into them.

Clancy: What lessons from North Face are you encouraging other brands to adopt?

Webster: North Face is one of the biggest brands in the outdoor industry and around some of these technical fabrics. We really started looking at our volume and our scale and the impact we have at some mills. One of the things we asked is, “Okay, what can we do around materials?” Because that’s really where the impact is. So, we went after the materials that have the biggest impacts and then layered in which the biggest volume materials. Then worked at the mills to solve some of that through a group called Bluesign [which has created a platform for sustainable textile production], among other things. So we had the volume and the scale on our side so we could get price parity, and that was a crucial, crucial piece to this and we could only do it because of the scale we had at that mill. So I think that’s key because the materials we chose go across a bunch of different products and a bunch of different categories and suddenly we have a story, right? The designers got excited because suddenly that material was in many different categories and they could all kind of embrace some sustainability; it wasn’t just exclusive to one product or one category, but suddenly we were raising the bar across VF.

Clancy: What’s been your most effective strategy for employee engagement?

Webster: I think it’s actually coming. We are doing a couple things; one is we just finished, as part of this strategy 1.0, a huge scorecard collection. So we literally created this online survey, that’s basically called a scorecard, and it went to every single facility, every single brand, every single retail store, and we asked very detailed questions about all of their activities around sustainability. So everything from community service to steps around products and materials to obviously energy, waste, water — all these kinds of practices.

We just are getting that data back, crunching it, cleaning it up and getting it organized. At the same time — now that we’ve got this data — we’re launching this tool on SharePoint as part of our intranet called our sustainability wiki. It is an in-house toolkit basically and resource center around sustainability for all of our associates to go in and find out what they can do, what best practices are out there, what they can learn from other people. The scorecards with all of their data crunched up and all kinds of basic business intelligence tools will be in that wiki.

The combination of those two together, I think, is going to be the most powerful engagement tool we have, because information is power. We’re going to be able to basically say, “Here’s one facility,” and compare it to another. Here’s a coalition, there’s a coalition; a brand versus brand, country versus country. You can basically slice and dice the information in a thousand different ways, and we can start creating some friendly competition. But we can also say, “Hey, if your facility or your products are not where you want them to be, here are tools, expertise, resources that you can go and can help you solve and unlock the potential you have.” Or “Here’s my e-mail; just call me,” or “Here’s some of the brands that are doing cool things; call them.”

Clancy: What’s your most pressing concern or challenge and how you’re tackling it?

Webster: The complexity and the decentralization of VF. We sit here at world headquarters in Greensboro, but frankly we have probably [just] 500, 600 people at world headquarters — we have 60,000 employees. So how do we get them all excited and enthused and understand what they can do and how important it is for them to do it?

 Manny Valdes via FlickrI always say sustainability is a team sport. My team, we’re not that big. I’ve got a few people and it’s great and they’re powerful and smart and bright. [But] we can’t turn VF into a sustainable operation; we need everyone. I think about how do we align everyone? How do we get everyone moving on the same track so it’s not this shotgun-fragmented approach, but it’s laser-focused; we’re all moving in the same direction, we’re all aligned in what we need to accomplish. It’s hard when you literally have brand offices all over the world.

Clancy: Who has been your most inspirational mentor?

Webster: Frankly I’ve been very fortunate; I’ve had a couple. … One of the most important things that I learned from one of my mentors was, especially around sustainability, because sometimes the thinking isn’t out-of-the-box, a lot of people just aren’t ready for it, and you’ve got to meet people where they are. You can’t go into a meeting and start talking about shared value if they don’t even understand what in the world sustainability is. You’ve got to understand where that organization is, what drives that organization, and meet it where it is and be able to integrate sustainability into the culture. Do not underestimate culture.

Clancy: What advice would you give to someone aspiring to a career similar to yours?

Webster: I think two things besides what I just said. Persistence: you just have to keep at it. It’s not a sprint and it’s not a marathon; it’s an ultra-marathon. You just have to stay at it. Also, go where the momentum is. You’re always going to have naysayers or people dragging their feet or saying it can’t be done, but you will find pods of people who have enthusiasm, they’re passionate, they want to do something. Go there. Go there and prove it. Go there and find a bright spot. Go there and find a result. When you start illustrating some success and people get onboard, they begin increasing confidence in you and can trust you as a team and as a function. They’ll be more willing to open up once they see that there’s some success out there.

How She Leads

How She Leads: Letitia Webster, VF

Thursday, August 14, 2014 – 12:01am

 

Image of Letitia Webster courtesy of VF

 

How She Leads is a regular GreenBiz feature spotlighting the careers of women who have moved into influential roles in sustainable business.

Outdoor enthusiast Letitia Webster’s five years of experience launching and leading the well-regarded North Face sustainability program made her a logical choice to spearhead the corporate-wide initiative at parent company VF, established in 2011.

Since then, Webster has focused on defining processes to help VF’s highly visible brands — including North Face, Timberland and Nautica — deliver on their sustainable business aspirations. Two of her biggest tactical projects: readying VF’s 2014 sustainability report (in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative guidelines) and creating an internal scorecard for tracking and reporting energy and carbon emissions reductions.

What’s up next? VF’s senior director of corporate responsibility shares her ideas for phase two of the program, which will include adopting aggressive water conservation measures and building an in-house wiki for helping brands and business units share best practices, and why she regards sustainability as an “ultra-marathon.”

Heather Clancy: You’ve got quite a few things going on. What’s your top priority?

Letitia Webster: When I got here it was pretty much a clean slate, which is great, but at the same time it wasn’t much to work with. So my first strategy was building a foundation; it was building governance structure, management systems, implementing data management, hiring a staff and team, understanding our footprint, doing measurements. That’s culminating in our first sustainability report that’s going to be coming out in just a couple of months.

My priority is getting that report out, and starting to think about how we transition from sustainability strategy 1.0, which is building a program and building infrastructure, to what I’m calling 2.0, which is unlocking the value of sustainability for the corporation and really thinking about how sustainability can actually drive revenue growth, build brand equity and help the corporation meet our 17 by 17 growth plan — $17 billion [in revenue] by 2017.

Clancy: Who is helping you with that?

Webster: I report into finance. So I report into the head, the CFO and the chief accounting officer and controller. VF is a very financially disciplined company — that’s something that we’re very well known for. I am challenged to really help provide perspective in terms of what is the value for the company. The leadership team is eager, and I think it will only help accelerate our program. So our leaders are thinking about how we integrate sustainability throughout the organization. I think really being able to cement [that concept] in dollars and cents and its value is really going to help. The short answer is finance is really helping me think that through.

Clancy: Where will that lead you first? Is there a particular area that’s got your attention as a result or are you kind of finetuning your priorities underneath that?

Webster: To be honest, it’s a little too early to determine where we’re headed. I think what we’re doing is overlaying our traditional sustainability materiality assessments that we’ve done with stakeholders with our key business strategies and key business drivers, like direct-to-consumer, international, strategy and innovation. Then we’re layering in what is the risk assessment, cost reductions and revenue upside sustainability can bring? Ideally, this will help us identify the big things we need to be focusing in on. Does that make sense?

 VFClancy: OK, let me ask you about something specific: water conservation. What’s new for you on that front? Is there anything in particular?

Webster: Water is one of the biggest impacts we have: water use, not only in the growing of raw materials and the processing of fiber — especially around synthetics and dyeing and finishing — but also in consumer use. So it’s a major issue. Let me back up for just a second here. VF is unique in that we produce 30 percent of our product in our owned and operated factories throughout mostly Central America. That’s very unique [among] apparel companies. What that allows us to do — and we’ve been doing it for 100 years — is really control those costs, right? So we manage those resources, energy and water and materials down to the nano; we’re very careful about how we manage those.

We’ve done a really good job in our own manufacturing [processes] of reducing our water. I’ll give you an example. In our factory in Torreon, Mexico, where it’s a finishing factory, a washhouse, too, we have recycled and are reusing 45 percent of our water right now. We have new technology coming in by the end of the year that will actually recycle water by 85 percent. …

We have a lot of those kinds of examples, especially around wastewater. That’s another big issue for apparel, wastewater, because we use a lot of chemicals. That said, we are embarking on developing an overall water strategy for VF starting next year. That’s the next big thing I’m focused on. We really focused on carbon and energy for the first two years, developing a climate change strategy. We are now moving into water and really thinking about a water strategy: where do we use our water, how do we use our water, where do we have risk in our supply chain around water scarcity, what materials are at risk due to climate change and the impacts it has on water in different regions. Whether it’s flooding or droughts or the need to reallocate water to communities versus agriculture, those are real issues that we have to be paying attention to.

Clancy: What are your thoughts on improving the rate of apparel reuse or repurposing? 

Webster: Obviously a good portion of our products are [made from] cotton, but [in addition] a good portion of our products are synthetics. So if you think about a synthetic, a synthetic is — and this is true for cotton, too — a synthetic is trapped energy. Synthetics are mostly petroleum-based. Many of our products that we’re doing with synthetics are just recycled PET plastic water bottles. Basically what we can do with a North Face jacket that’s a synthetic is re-melt it down and make it into something new. So you need to think about how we reuse that jacket, not just in terms of consumer reuse, but how we take it back and actually make it into something new.

 VFTo me that’s one concept around reuse and recycling. But then there’s that other concept of the sharing economy and how that is just growing and growing and we’re seeing it even in outdoor equipment. A lot of people don’t want to buy one tent for one camping trip every couple of years, so how do we think about our business models and start thinking about how we promote that sharing economy, how do we ensure that we’re having those conversations with the consumers and the customers as well.

Clancy: You’re obviously working on the corporate strategy, but that sits over some very distinct brands known for their environmental policies — NorthFace, Timberland and Nautica among them. How do you give them the freedom to innovate? The fact that you’re working on this big corporate strategy and approach, how does that permeate back to them now? 

Webster: We tell them keep the pedal on the metal and just keep going. We continually encourage them to be innovative, think about sustainability and how it resonates with our consumers, how to make more commercial sustainable products. Our responsibility is when to enable that and how we do enable it. There’s a couple of different ways we can do that. Then, our responsibility is how we share those learnings and best practices with the rest of the organization, right? So we don’t want to inhibit them, but we do want to take those learnings, best practices and share them with the other brands.

One thing we are doing is we’ve got innovation centers, outside of sustainability, that we’re working with to embed sustainability into the innovation process. We’re building very strategic innovation centers. We’ve got one here in Greensboro, N.C., around jeanswear. We have one in Alameda, Calif., that’s part of the North Face building around technical apparel, and we’ve got one around technical footwear based in Stratham, N.H., next to the Timberland office. Those innovation centers are there to absolutely propel those businesses and keep them cutting-edge, and our job is to embed a sustainability lens into them.

Clancy: What lessons from North Face are you encouraging other brands to adopt?

Webster: North Face is one of the biggest brands in the outdoor industry and around some of these technical fabrics. We really started looking at our volume and our scale and the impact we have at some mills. One of the things we asked is, “Okay, what can we do around materials?” Because that’s really where the impact is. So, we went after the materials that have the biggest impacts and then layered in which the biggest volume materials. Then worked at the mills to solve some of that through a group called Bluesign [which has created a platform for sustainable textile production], among other things. So we had the volume and the scale on our side so we could get price parity, and that was a crucial, crucial piece to this and we could only do it because of the scale we had at that mill. So I think that’s key because the materials we chose go across a bunch of different products and a bunch of different categories and suddenly we have a story, right? The designers got excited because suddenly that material was in many different categories and they could all kind of embrace some sustainability; it wasn’t just exclusive to one product or one category, but suddenly we were raising the bar across VF.

Clancy: What’s been your most effective strategy for employee engagement?

Webster: I think it’s actually coming. We are doing a couple things; one is we just finished, as part of this strategy 1.0, a huge scorecard collection. So we literally created this online survey, that’s basically called a scorecard, and it went to every single facility, every single brand, every single retail store, and we asked very detailed questions about all of their activities around sustainability. So everything from community service to steps around products and materials to obviously energy, waste, water — all these kinds of practices.

We just are getting that data back, crunching it, cleaning it up and getting it organized. At the same time — now that we’ve got this data — we’re launching this tool on SharePoint as part of our intranet called our sustainability wiki. It is an in-house toolkit basically and resource center around sustainability for all of our associates to go in and find out what they can do, what best practices are out there, what they can learn from other people. The scorecards with all of their data crunched up and all kinds of basic business intelligence tools will be in that wiki.

The combination of those two together, I think, is going to be the most powerful engagement tool we have, because information is power. We’re going to be able to basically say, “Here’s one facility,” and compare it to another. Here’s a coalition, there’s a coalition; a brand versus brand, country versus country. You can basically slice and dice the information in a thousand different ways, and we can start creating some friendly competition. But we can also say, “Hey, if your facility or your products are not where you want them to be, here are tools, expertise, resources that you can go and can help you solve and unlock the potential you have.” Or “Here’s my e-mail; just call me,” or “Here’s some of the brands that are doing cool things; call them.”

Clancy: What’s your most pressing concern or challenge and how you’re tackling it?

Webster: The complexity and the decentralization of VF. We sit here at world headquarters in Greensboro, but frankly we have probably [just] 500, 600 people at world headquarters — we have 60,000 employees. So how do we get them all excited and enthused and understand what they can do and how important it is for them to do it?

 Manny Valdes via FlickrI always say sustainability is a team sport. My team, we’re not that big. I’ve got a few people and it’s great and they’re powerful and smart and bright. [But] we can’t turn VF into a sustainable operation; we need everyone. I think about how do we align everyone? How do we get everyone moving on the same track so it’s not this shotgun-fragmented approach, but it’s laser-focused; we’re all moving in the same direction, we’re all aligned in what we need to accomplish. It’s hard when you literally have brand offices all over the world.

Clancy: Who has been your most inspirational mentor?

Webster: Frankly I’ve been very fortunate; I’ve had a couple. … One of the most important things that I learned from one of my mentors was, especially around sustainability, because sometimes the thinking isn’t out-of-the-box, a lot of people just aren’t ready for it, and you’ve got to meet people where they are. You can’t go into a meeting and start talking about shared value if they don’t even understand what in the world sustainability is. You’ve got to understand where that organization is, what drives that organization, and meet it where it is and be able to integrate sustainability into the culture. Do not underestimate culture.

Clancy: What advice would you give to someone aspiring to a career similar to yours?

Webster: I think two things besides what I just said. Persistence: you just have to keep at it. It’s not a sprint and it’s not a marathon; it’s an ultra-marathon. You just have to stay at it. Also, go where the momentum is. You’re always going to have naysayers or people dragging their feet or saying it can’t be done, but you will find pods of people who have enthusiasm, they’re passionate, they want to do something. Go there. Go there and prove it. Go there and find a bright spot. Go there and find a result. When you start illustrating some success and people get onboard, they begin increasing confidence in you and can trust you as a team and as a function. They’ll be more willing to open up once they see that there’s some success out there.

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E-Commerce Innovators On The Future Of Retail

October 30, 2014 Leave a comment

E-Commerce Innovators

On The Future Of Retail

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The Future of Retail Marketing

October 30, 2014 Leave a comment
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Former J.C. Penney CEO Ron Johnson Leads Shopping Startup

October 28, 2014 Leave a comment

sourcing journal
Posted on October 27, 2014 by Angela Velasquez

Ron Johnson’s next move will be in the world of e-commerce. The former Apple retail chief and J.C. Penney CEO announced on Friday that he has raised $25 million in funding for a new startup called Enjoy, slated to launch in 2015.

Few details about Enjoy have been released, however, the venture will aim to improve the online shopping experience and help online shoppers make decisions on new products. In particular, Enjoy is said to focus on delivery for high-end gadgets.
In an interview with Nasdaq.com, Johnson said Enjoy would connect shoppers with products in a similar way Apple Stores let consumers try out new products. Johnson said retailers like Amazon.com exceed at selling everyday products and delivering them quickly, but that they overlook the “human aspect of helping shoppers find the right products.” He told Nasdaq.com, “That’s when you typically want something more than fast delivery; you might want a little help. There’s a place for high touch in a high-tech world.”

Menlo Park, Calif.-based Enjoy has already recruited a roster of highly-touted executives, including former Apple retail vice president Jerry McDougal, Tom Suiter, the creative director known for his iMac campaigns, and former Facebook technology director Kunal Malik. In total, Enjoy has raised $30 million, with the latest $25 million coming from a round of funding spearheaded by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Oak Investment Partners.

Johnson stepped down from his post at J.C. Penney in April 2013 after a 17-month run that saw the retailer’s customer base dwindle and sales drop 25 percent.

 When Ron Johnson started his retail career 30 years ago, the man who would go on to create the retail experience that we now know as the Apple Store, was entering “a startup field.” Venture capitalists were funding retailers not technology companies. “That’s when Mickey (Millard) Drexler first went to The Gap from a department store. That’s when Les (Leslie) Wexner, of Limited fame and Victoria’s Secret, invented the modern specialty store. That’s when U.S. Ventures was funding Staples and Toys “R” Us as startups — ’cause that’s when big box retailing started.”

Johnson, who began working on the loading dock of Mervyn’s department store after earning his MBA from Harvard Business School, later went on to Target where his idea to sell a teakettle led the discount store to its reputation for selling trendy products with an upscale feel. Most recently, he lost his CEO job at JC Penney after failing to turn around the more than century-old department store during his 17-month tenure.

The founder of a new investment fund called Johnson Partners was a guest speaker at the “View From The Top” series on May 19, where he shared with Stanford GSB students the lessons he has learned from working more than three decades in retail.

There is No Single ‘Right Answer’

Johnson learned this lesson while studying hundreds of case studies at his Harvard classes. “And we’d all read the same case, but everyone would have a different opinion,” he says. “That led me to recognize, in part, that there is no one right answer to most business problems, but it will be informed by your own experience, and ultimately, your own intuition.”

Data Does Not Tell the Entire Story

“Don’t just rely on numbers,” Johnson says. “If you rely on data, and the data’s going to drive the evidence that drives the decision, well, most companies would come up with the same approach. And, ultimately, when you have an approach that’s like a commodity, it doesn’t do very well. Most of the great businesses had a spark of innovation.”

Learn by Doing

At Mervyn’s, Johnson asked to start at the lowest job instead of going directly into an office job at its headquarters. “I unloaded trucks for three months, and I got really fast at it,” he says. But he also learned how the merchandise got packaged, how it was on a trailer, how it was stocked efficiently, and how to make sure goods got to the floor. “It gave me lifetime knowledge, which I value today. So I can walk through a store and I see things, probably, that I wouldn’t see if I hadn’t done that.”

Follow Those Intuitive, Instinctual Moments

Early in his career at Target, Johnson was in charge of the home products section; he was traveling to Europe often and also had bought his first home. “And I was struck by all the beautiful objects of art. I love things that are beautiful that you’d find in these really high end boutiques that were expensive, but there was nothing like that available in a store like Target.” At the time, he says, merchants would buy something, copy it later at a low price. “And it hit me, why do the small expensive brands create, when the big brands with all the resources copy? It didn’t make sense. And why are beautiful objects not available to everyday people?” Johnson then did something that was a breakthrough in the early 90s: He asked designer Michael Graves, who had designed a bestselling, pricey teakettle to create a more affordable one for Target. Graves said yes.

Prepare to Battle “Reality Filters”

The concept of designing and selling teakettles was far removed from what Target was doing at the time. Not surprisingly, top executives were skeptical. Johnson says he was bombarded with questions such as “Who’s Michael Graves? Why do you think our customers will like design?” It is challenging to explain innovation because it grows from one’s imagination, he says. “Any time you imagine something, you’re going to be stuck battling reality filters, you know — the kind of assumptions about the business that are embedded in the company you’re at.” Target put the Michael Graves collection on its shelves in 1999, and that “led to a series of things that helped Target differentiate itself, really become preferred.”

Be Willing to Start Again

One day, before Apple opened its first store in May 2001, Johnson was riding with Steve Jobs to a weekly planning meeting about the store Johnson was charged with designing. Johnson told his boss, “Steve, I’ve been thinking. I think the store’s organized all wrong. We’ve organized it like a retail store around products, but if Apple’s going to organize around activities like music and movies, well, the store should be organized around music, and movies, and things you do,'” Johnson recalls. “And he looked at me and he said, ‘Do you know how big a change that is? I don’t have time to redesign the store.'” Then, 10 minutes later, at the meeting, Johnson recalls, “Steve walks in and the first thing, he looks at the group and he says, ‘Well, Ron thinks our store is all wrong.'” Jobs then added ‘And he’s right, so I’m going to leave now and Ron, you work with the team and design the store.'” That lesson, of not doing it fast, but doing it well, “carried through to so many things I’ve done,” Johnson says. “It’s not about speed to market; it’s really about doing your level best.”

Sometimes, You Will Get it Wrong

Johnson’s plan with JCPenney, he says, was to get a younger, and more profitable customer base, eliminate discounts, and to move quickly even if it meant there would be dropping sales in the short run. But in retrospect, even as he thinks his plan would have succeeded, he realizes his pace was too fast for such a traditional company. “I think it was kind of arrogance. I just had such — I’d had such success, you know? Most of the things I’d done at Apple and Target worked and so you think, well, this will work too. And the reality is, you know, we moved too quickly.” It was too fast for the board, the customers, employees, and shareholders, he says.

Know Your Fit

In the end, Johnson realized that JCPenney was not the place for him. “It was disappointing because I really believed we would make it work, but it was a relief because the lesson I learned is I was a terrible fit for JCPenney,” he says. “I believe in change, this company’s much more comfortable, like many people are, with the status quo.”

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Can Cities Save Our Bees?

October 28, 2014 Leave a comment

Technologist

Can Cities Save Our Bees?

Can Cities Save Our Bees?

October 28th, 2014 | by Barry J. Gibb, Mosaic

Flitting from plant to plant, from flower to flower, bees and other insect pollinators play an essential role in crop pollination and the human food supply. But they’re struggling: intensive agriculture and climate change have taken a heavy toll on their populations.

Might our cities be the perfect haven for these pollinators? Amid the brick and concrete, steel and glass, there are parks, gardens and curious bits of greenery – and here you can find honey bees, bumblebees, solitary bees, flies and butterflies.

In this film we meet the scientists from the Insect Pollinators Initiative, an ambitious UK-wide scientific collaboration that’s exploring where and how wild bees and other pollinators are living in cities around the UK. And as we follow renowned guerrilla gardener Richard Reynolds around his home in London’s concrete maze, Elephant and Castle, we discover a curious symbiosis between humans and bees. By investing in the future of bees living successfully in cities, we may also be investing in our own health and happiness.

Top Image: A lone bee in Los Angeles viaShutterstock.

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Questions Every Publisher Should Ask About Programmatic Advertising

October 28, 2014 Leave a comment

 

images

http://www.spotxchange.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/SpotXchange_11QuestionsEveryPublisherShouldAskAboutProgrammaticAdvertising_October2014.pdf

The largest and most significant marketers are placing more of their ads
programmatically than ever.
Major brands now commonly spend as much as 20 percent of their digital media
advertising budgets through exchanges. IPG Mediabrands expects to automate
50 percent of its North American media buying by 2016. By 2017, programmatic
could account for 83 percent of all display advertising, according to eMarketer

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Canadian Retail, Evolved

October 28, 2014 Leave a comment

theEtailBlogUpdatedhttp://mkto.bronto.com/rs/bronto/images/eTailCanadaBrontoReport.pdf

 

The State of Retail Report
The Evolving Trends in Digital Marketing
Key Findings
Retail marketing is in a state of constant evolution, driven
forward by the availability of disruptive technologies and the
emergence of all new marketing channels. Using research
gathered at the 2014 eTail Canada Conference, the present
study evaluates the state of retail marketing, assessing how
well retailers are leveraging these new technologies and
marketing channels. This report also evaluates how company
structures are adapting to these changes.
Table Of
Contents
Digital capabilities continue to be critical to effective
marketing, with search and email solutions leading
the charge.
The vast majority of retailers are building out their mobile
capabilities, but they believe there is still a lot of work
to be done to maximize mobile as a revenue channel.
Retailers are investing in social media marketing,
although most companies are using social primarily to
drive consumer engagement and PR efforts, rather than
sales.
Corporate structures are slowly shifting to
accommodate the new realities of e-commerce.
Despite being a popular offering from many companies,
free shipping has not become a universal practice

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Port squeeze threatens US retailers’ holiday stocking plans

October 28, 2014 Leave a comment

REUTERS

LOS ANGELES Oct 24, 2014 

(Reuters) – A shortage of transportation equipment and possible labor disruptions at ​the Los Angeles/Long Beach port complex, ​the nation’s busiest, is delaying shipping containers for up to three weeks, threatening timely delivery to retailers for the holiday season.

The delays are affecting retailers including JC Penney Co (JCP.N), Macy’s Inc (M.N), Kohl’s Corp (KSS.N) Nordstrom Inc (JWN.N), American Eagle (AEO.N), Ralph Lauren (RL.N) and Carter’s (CRI.N), according to three people with direct knowledge of the situation.

Retail giant Wal-mart Stores Inc (WMT.N), recently diverted 300 shipment containers to Oakland to avoid the congestion, one person said. Wal-Mart declined comment.

 The problem stems from a shortage of trucking equipment, called chassis, but the National Retail Federation in a statement said protracted labor negotiations were an issue, too. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union declined comment on whether talks were having an effect.

Most retailers acknowledged the delays at the key ports for shipments from Asia, but said they did not anticipate product shortages during the holidays. Even so, any delay can derail a finely calibrated just-in-time inventory control system, making it costlier for retailers to put merchandise on the shelves.

“It’s a domino effect,” said Nate Herman, vice president of international trade at the American Apparel and Footwear Association. “When there is an interruption, things degenerate quickly.”

With major port contracts up for renewal this year, retailers including Wal-Mart ordered early and prompted a surge of deliveries in June and July, port statistics show. But significant volume still arrived during the traditional August-October period that precedes the November-January holiday shopping season.

“There will be a scramble to restock shelves this holiday season,” said Mark Hirzel, president of the Los Angeles Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association. “The delays are running into two to three weeks.”

Cargo containers typically take two to three days to move out of the port.

IDLE CONTAINERS

A freight forwarder who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity said holiday merchandise for retailers like JC Penney, Macy’s, Kohl’s and Nordstrom that landed at the Los Angeles port two weeks ago still has not cleared the port.

An apparel importer who declined to be named said American Eagle, Ralph Lauren and Carter’s shipments from Bangladesh have been stuck for over two weeks. “We simply don’t know when these shipments will move out,” the source said.

An American Eagle spokeswoman declined comment on the delays.

JC Penney and Macy’s both said they did not anticipate significant delay-related issues. A Nordstrom spokeswoman said the company was contacting vendors for information.

Wal-Mart, Kohl’s, Ralph Lauren and Carter’s did not respond to requests seeking comment.

DISPUTE ABOUT CAUSES

Outside the gates of Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport on busy days, trucks stand in mile-long queues, even as stacks of unmoved containers wait for pickup at a complex that handles 40 percent of ​U.S. container cargo. ​​The Port of New York and New Jersey is also affected, but to a lesser extent.

Val Noronha, president of Digital Geographic Research Corp, said the company’s GPS tracking data showed a third of trucks took more than two hours to enter and leave the port, compared to about one fifth taking that long in June of 2010.

Geoffrey Hanna, vice president of textile importer Henry W. Peabody & Co., said some truckers have refused to go to the ports because of long wait times. It took his firm more than two weeks to get a recent shipment out, Hanna said.

The disruptions stem from the move by shipping lines, which struggled during the recession, to sell container trailers and other non-core assets to equipment leasing companies, port sources and outside experts said. The change sent roughly 8,000 truckers that serve the port each day scrambling to find chassis.

The backlog of containers is creating extra work. Statistics from the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents 29 ports along the West Coast, show hours paid to terminal workers jumped 24 percent this September over the same month last year. Last month, 750,850 inbound containers arrived at the Los Angeles/Long Beach complex, up almost 11 percent from a year ago, the port statistics show.

Several retailers and importers are considering alternatives such as Houston or East Coast ports, Hirzel of Los Angeles Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association said.

“It will cost more and take longer but they want certainty,” he said. “In this situation, there is value in certainty.”

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Jack vs Jeff: The two biggest ecommerce billionaires in the world are total opposites

October 28, 2014 Leave a comment

jack-ma-jeff-bezos-amazon-alibaba

In 1990, Jack Ma was teaching English to a group of university students at Hangzhou Dianzi University. Who would have thought that, 24 years later, he would be China’s richest man?

In that same year, Jeff Bezos was working at D.E. Shaw & Co., an investment management firm based out of New York City. After graduating summa cum laude from Princeton university with a Bachelor’s degree in computer science and electrical engineering, there was no doubt Bezos would end up in tech, it was just a matter of time.

Years later, both of them would come up with similar names for their companies. Bezos wanted Cadabra, a name that signified magic. Ma wanted Alibaba, hoping that the name would open doors with an “open sesame”. But that might be as similar as they can get: ecommerce and magic.

These origin stories are tell-tale signs of two diverging philosophies and the companies they gave birth to. And yet they meet in some inroads. Just one month after Alibaba’s IPO, let’s take a deeper look at the two founders and the companies that are destined to shape the future of online retail.

Putting customers first?

Amazon is notorious for its obsession with customers. In fact, it’s Bezos’ go-to mantra and arguably his number one rule when it comes to how the culture of Amazon should be set. Bezos is a customer-centric founder:

We have so many customers who treat us so well, and we have the right kind of culture that obsesses over the customer. If there’s one reason we have done better than of our peers in the Internet space over the last six years, it is because we have focused like a laser on customer experience, and that really does matter, I think, in any business. It certainly matters online, where word of mouth is so very, very powerful.

But Jack Ma has a slightly different angle. Ma told CNBC newscasters, minutes after Alibaba listed on the New York Stock Exchange on September 22, “Customers first, employees second, and shareholders third.” What the newscasters didn’t realize was that when Ma thinks of customers, he’s not talking about everyday consumers in the same way as Bezos. To Ma, his customers are the small businesses that use the firm’s Taobao and Tmall marketplaces. Speaking at Stanford in 2013, Ma outlined this clearly:

Alibaba is not a company for consumers […] I knew that we didn’t have the right DNA to become a consumer company. The world is changing very fast, and it’s hard to gauge consumers’ needs. Small businesses know more about the needs of their customers. We had to empower our power sellers and our SME’s to support their customers.

This divergence is profoundly clear when you dig into stories about Amazon’s dealings with small businesses. In 2006, Amazon throttled the sales of a 200-year-old German business selling knives. In 2007, when Amazon released the Kindle, it didn’t reveal the US$9.99 price to publishers until the day of the release. And just this year, Amazon is making it harder for customers to buy books from publisher, Hachette, all because, as Forbes notes, “Amazon wants a bigger piece of its suppliers’ profit margins to purportedly pass on to its customers in the form of lower prices.” Amazon functions like a monopolistic empire.

You just won’t see this kind of behavior at Alibaba. The philosophy is poles apart from Amazon’s. This is what Jack Ma had to say on this very topic at Stanford in 2011:

I believe in the internet time, there is no empire thinking. I hate the empire. Empire thinking means join me or I’ll kill you. And I don’t like that model. I believe the ecosystem. […] I believe everybody should be helping each other, connecting each other. It’s an ecosystem. So Taobao become so big, so fast, and I worry about that. Give the industry some opportunity, give the competitors some opportunity.

See: Jack Ma’s Last Speech as Alibaba CEO

No money, no technology, and no plans

When you dig deeper into the business philosophies of these two giants, you start to see even deeper discrepancies. When Ma spoke again at Stanford in 2013, heoutlined some peculiarities of Alibaba’s founding story.

The ignorant are not afraid. There were three reasons behind our success. They were very valid points. First, we had no money. Second, we didn’t understand technology. Third, we never planned.

Alibaba started with RMB 50,000. That’s about US$8,150. When Amazon started out, Bezos got US$300,000 from his parents.

Ma was an English teacher before starting his entrepreneurial journey. Bezos graduated from an Ivy League school.

In contrast to Ma’s “no plan” (he goes into it much deeper here), Bezos is the meticulous planner. In a short video in 2009, following the acquisition of Zappos, Bezos outlines the “only things he knows.” The list includes: obsessing over customers, inventing, and thinking long-term. Bezos adds:

Any company that wants to invent on behalf of customers has to be willing to think long-term. And it’s actually much rarer than you might think. I find that most of the initiatives that we undertake may take five to seven years before they pay any dividends for the company […] It requires and allows a willingness to be misunderstood.

But in one or two ways, these tech titans are growing. Today, Ma’s net worth is US$21.8 billion, making him the 37th richest person in the world. Bezos is worth US$30.5 billion, putting him 21st on the list.

Epilogue: Beyond Alibaba, beyond Amazon, beyond money, beyond humanity

Now, where are these two men putting their money? Looking beyond their business philosophies and their businesses, this gives us a visceral idea of what they really care about. When asked at a talk in 2013 what his favorite books were, Bezos said he loves science fiction. And this is especially reflected in his over $500 million of personal investment into a company called Blue Origin. This is one of the biggest investments of his over $5 billion portfolio1. Blue Origin has worked on research projects in areas like planetary defense and space rockets. It’s part of Bezos’ life long dream to build “space hotels, amusement parks, and colonies for two million or three million people who would be in orbit,” he said. Recent reports indicate that Bezos might be working out so that he can personally go into space too.

Ma has teamed up with Jet Li to start a Tai Chi school. Yes, believe it or not, Jack Ma is a Tai Chi Master. If you listen to him talk, you can hear the Taoist and Buddhist influences seep through: “Today is cruel. Tomorrow is crueler. And the day after tomorrow is beautiful.” Ma also meditates every day. In the various talks mentioned above, one of the most common themes is Ma’s interest in personal development and determination. These are no doubt fueled by his personal Tai Chi practice.

So at the end of the day, the story of Alibaba versus Amazon is really a story of a Tai Chi master and a wanna-be astronaut.


  1. Bezos’ investment firm, whose website lists the entire portfolio, has made investments spanning from Uber to Business Insider. In the meantime, Ma has recently spent his money on companies like financial software company Hundsun, video content site Wasu Media, and a rather controversial Alipay deal. If you dig deeper, you’ll find that Ma has invested in even more via three entities,Yunfeng Capital, Zhejiang Alibaba E-Commerce Co, and Zhejiang Finance Credit Network Technology. Both of the latter companies don’t have websites, nor much information on them, thus adding to the mystery of investments that Jack Ma has. 
Editing by Steven Millward and Paul Bischoff
Categories: Uncategorized

AM4U releases remarkable INFUSION tm patent pending process

October 27, 2014 Leave a comment
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GARMENTS CAN BE MADE PROFITABLY IN AMERICA AGAIN! “ONE PRODUCT AT A TIME”

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Categories: Uncategorized

Apple Pay Faces Challenge as CVS, Rite Aid Reject System

October 27, 2014 Leave a comment

Bloomberg

Oct. 27 (Bloomberg) — Rite Aid and CVS Health have pushed aside Apple Pay as they take part in a new group supporting a competing mobile payment system. Bloomberg’s Olivia Sterns explains on “In The Loop.”

Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s mobile payment technology ran into a roadblock a week after its introduction as CVS Health Corp. (CVS) and Rite Aid Corp. (RAD), part of a consortium developing a competing system, disabled Apple Pay in their drugstores.

CVS and Rite Aid are among 220,000 U.S. merchants that already have technology in place to read the short-range wireless signals that enable customers of Apple Pay or similar services to make a purchase by waving their smartphones. The retailers weren’t among those specifically named as accepting Apple Pay when the iPhone maker revealed its system last month.

The drug retailers stopped Apple Pay last week, said a person familiar with the situation who asked not to be named. The website MacRumors.com earlier reported that the stores disabled so-called contactless payment systems, and Slashgear.com published a purported internal memo in which Rite Aid says it is instead focusing on the consortium’s system.

“This act by CVS and Rite Aid heralds the advent of the imminent battle in the mobile pay system,” Anindya Ghose, a marketing and information-technology professor at New York University, said yesterday in an e-mail.

Spokesmen for Woonsocket, Rhode Island-based CVS and Camp Hill, Pennsylvania-based Rite Aid didn’t respond to voice messages and e-mails. CVS has about 7,700 retail pharmacies and Rite Aid has about 4,570.

Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Apple Pay logo is displayed in a mobile kiosk sponsored by Visa and Wells Fargo to… Read More

Customer Feedback

“The feedback we are getting from customers and retailers about Apple Pay is overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic,” Trudy Muller, a spokeswoman for Apple, said in an e-mail. “We are working to get as many merchants as possible to support this convenient, secure and private payment option.”

Apple’s shares, up 31 percent this year through yesterday, fell 3 cents to $105.19 as of 1:39 p.m. in New York.

At stake is a market that’s projected to jump to $90 billion in 2017 from $12.8 billion in 2012, according to Forrester Research Inc. Apple’s entry into mobile payments follows efforts by Square Inc., Google Inc. and Softcard — a wallet application backed by the three largest U.S. wireless carriers — that all failed to gain widespread appeal.

Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook is trying to push Cupertino, California-based Apple into new businesses that further immerse users in the Apple digital ecosystem, which encourages repeat purchases over time.

Merchant Group

CVS and Rite Aid are part of a consortium of retailers called the Merchant Customer Exchange that has been working on its own mobile payment system to help bypass credit card companies. The group’s system, called CurrentC, is in pilot tests in select locations across the country with plans for a national rollout next year, according to a statement on its website. Network members include Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT), Lowe’s Cos. (LOW) and Target Corp. (TGT), the website shows.

Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A worker uses Apple Pay inside a mobile kiosk sponsored by Visa and Wells Fargo set up… Read More

Apple’s strategy is the opposite. It partnered with the major banks and credit card companies — Visa Inc., MasterCard Inc. and American Express Co. — that Apple says account for more than 80 percent of U.S. credit-card purchases, allowing the iPhone maker to piggyback on their checkout systems. Apple will also collect fees from the card issuers, according to three people familiar with the deals who weren’t authorized to discuss them.

Apple Pay works on the company’s new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which have so-called near-field communication technology built in. The big catch for Apple is that merchants have to upgrade their credit and debit card systems to them read those short-wave signals.

Card Issuers

Credit-card issuers are pushing U.S. merchants to upgrade their payment terminals within the next year to accept chip-based debit and credit cards, which are usually capable of handling near-field communications technology. The deadline for merchants to make the switch is October 2015; so far about 220,000 U.S. stores have done so, out of more than 10 million. The upgrade costs $500 to $1,000 per checkout terminal, according to Javelin Strategy & Research.

Some merchants are finding themselves tied to the Merchant Customer Exchange, known as MCX, while Apple Pay is being rolled out. “Merchants are contractually obligated to MCX, so they really don’t have a choice,” Nathalie Reinelt, an analyst with Aite Group, said in an e-mail.

While hundreds of thousands of stores have NFC technology, it doesn’t necessarily mean their systems have the software or ability to facilitate Apple Pay, said Richard Crone, chief executive officer of Crone Consulting LLC, a researcher in San Francisco.

Terminal Technology

“They are old terminals,” Crone said. As many as half of them aren’t operating because either merchant turned them off or the processor and infrastructure isn’t in place to support them, he said.

Apple Pay had been working at CVS and Rite Aid, Edward McLaughlin, chief emerging payments officer at MasterCard, said in a telephone interview. “It was working great,” he said. “It’s almost baffling to me” that stores would block the payment systems.

Even before Apple Pay began working on Oct. 20, some retailers were expressing concerns, especially those that want to collect user data.

“The one who enrolls is the one who controls” the data and the ability to deliver ads and offers, Crone said. “We figure that is worth $300 per active wallet user per year. To put that in perspective, that’s twice the gross revenue that a bank makes on a checking account.”

At Panera Bread Co. (PNRA), which is experimenting with taking to-go orders through its app and replacing registers with tablets, a customer using Apple Pay would still have to hand the cashier her rewards card or recite her phone number to get a loyalty discount.

“Obviously, that’s not where we want to be,” Blaine Hurst, Panera’s executive vice president for technology and transformation, told Bloomberg Businessweek. “Why can’t I just walk up to a cashier with my phone and all that information magically appears?”

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