Entrepreneurship Speaker Series


Diversity in Entrepreneurship

A conversation with business owners and Etsy sellers MAW Supply, Melanie Abrantes, Alicia Goodwin, and Karen O'Leary. Moderated by Etsy trend expert, Dayna Isom Johnson.

Originally aired on Monday, May 24, 2022

Dayna Isom Johnson is the trend expert for Etsy and a judge on the NBC primetime series "Making It," hosted by Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman.

In her role as a trend expert, she is in constant pursuit of new and unique finds and is passionate about helping shoppers find special pieces that showcase their personal style.  She is responsible for keeping her finger on the pulse of the latest and greatest designs, while shining a spotlight on the incredible community of 3.7 million small business owners on Etsy. 

She has expertise across a multitude of categories of handmade and artisanal items – from home decor to fashion and accessories – and often demonstrates DIY projects for all ages and skill levels. 

She makes frequent appearances on national television and satellite radio shows, and is regularly quoted as a resource in lifestyle and news publications.  In her free time, you can find Dayna in the kitchen whipping up sweet treats or bike riding around New York with her husband and dog Mojo.

Alicia Goodwin is a jeweler and artist based out of Chicago, Illinois. A graduate of the metals program at SUNY’s Fashion Institute of Technology as well as a graduate of CUNY’s Hunter College, Alicia creates sculptural work inspired by nature, mourning jewelry of the Victorian era and ceremonial jewelry of the Mesoamericas. 

She creates a majority of her work under her eponymous brand, Lingua Nigra, using the ancient techniques wax carving, as well as textural techniques such as reticulation and acid etching. 

Her work can be found at select retailers and museum shops around the world.

Melanie Abrantes Designs is a Bay Area-based producer of handcrafted, heirloom objects. Founder Melanie Abrantes believes that in order to create something beautiful, you have to get your hands dirty. She founded her company in 2013 when she realized there was a growing American market for handmade goods. Working with a variety of unique materials, Melanie strives to create products of the highest quality that are equally beautiful and functional. Through the technique of lathing, she turns simple pieces of solid wood and cork into one-of-a-kind bowls, plates, cups and stands. Her passion for woodworking originates from the simple fact that every piece is unique as the material it is made from. Time in the studio is dedicated to researching, testing and adapting the product to its user, resulting in a simple, yet unique object of the highest quality. Moving forward, Melanie plans to broaden her line to include furniture and lighting, maintaining her dedication to handmade.

MAW SUPPLY, also known as Man and Woman, is a vintage and reclaimed apparel and accessories company founded in 2012 by husband and wife, Norman and Rachelle Clark. Specializing in sustainable day-to-day pieces, Norman and Rachelle share their love for vintage and secondhand goods that reflect simplicity, style, comfort, and individuality for the wardrobe of today.

Women Entrepreneurs

A virtual conversation with Lara Eurdolian and Jennifer Walsh.

Women are starting businesses at more than double the rate of men. Join two female business owners as they share their stories about getting started and breaking into their respective industries.

Originally aired on Monday, May 17

Watch on YouTube

Lara Eurdolian is a fashion + beauty expert, on-air-talent, entrepreneur, and founder of Pretty Connected (prettyconnected.com), the award winning, beauty, fashion, and lifestyle blog and accessories line. She also serves a council member and guest editor for NewBeauty magazine and Expert Circle for Rhyme & Reason haircare.

In 2014 she co-founded the non-profit, Share Your Beauty, an initiative that collects unused, unopened hygiene and beauty products and delivers them to shelters in NYC and the tri-state area. Since launching, Share Your Beauty has collected and distributed over 150,000 products.

Jennifer Walsh is a true visionary and architect of the beauty, wellness and retail landscape as the creator of Beauty Bar in 1998, the very first omni-channel beauty brand in the United States. She changed the way people shopped for beauty and wellness by creating a retail powerhouse that allowed shoppers to see and experience niche and independent beauty products in her brick and mortar stores, on her e-commerce website, and a weekly TV show.

Conversation with Chris Madden

A virtual conversation featuring designer Chris Madden. Hosted by Karen Trivette, head of FIT's Special Collections and College Archives.

Chris Madden and Karen Trivette.

Chris Madden is an American interior designer, television host, author, and businesswoman. As founder and Chief Executive Officer of Chris Madden Inc, Madden created a multimillion-dollar home furnishings company through partnerships with Mohawk Industries, Bassett Furniture, and JCPenney.

Madden started her trajectory at the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she was awarded and earned a scholarship to FIT for her designs. She went on to become the youngest director of publicity in new york at three major publishing houses at the age of 23. 

Chris Madden started her own public relations firm in 1976, and shortly after started writing books on home interior design. After her early books such as Interior Visions (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1988), Rooms with a View (PBC International, 1992), and Kitchens (Clarkson Potter, 1993), Madden was selected by HGTV as one of their first four hosts. Her show Interiors by Design with Chris Madden ran for eight seasons (1995-2003). In 1997, she became the first design correspondent on The Oprah Winfrey Show.The same year, Madden's book, A Room of Her Own, was published by Clarkson Potter/Random House. It sold over 100,000 copies and went into 11 printings. 

In 1998, Madden launched a furniture line with Bassett Furniture Co, after originally being approached as a spokesperson. After two years in development, a 70-piece Chris Madden line launched in 2000. By 2002, the line had sold over 100 million dollars worth of product. This success with Bassett led to licensing deals with Austin Candles and Mohawk Flooring.

In 2003, JCPenney announced their partnership with Chris Madden. Madden served as JCPenney's home collection spokeswoman and design expert. She developed and designed a line of products that launched in 2004. There were 675 items in the launch, the largest in JCPenney's history. Madden's book, Haven: Finding the Key to Your Personal Decorating Style (Clarkson Potter), was released at the same time. By 2005, her JCPenney collection,Chris Madden Collection, had expanded to two-thousand pieces.

Madden began Project Katrina in 2007 to help victims of Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi and Louisiana. Four homes in Pass Christian Mississippi were furnished with her designs from JCPenney. Madden's philanthropy continued in 2008 when she partnered with Blue Star Mothers of America in Operation Cozy Comfort - replacing regulation army blankets with Chris Madden Plush Blankets from JCPenney.  In 2010, Madden was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she served until 2015. The same year, Madden's newest design book The Soul of a House - Decorating with Warmth, Style and Comfort was published by Rizzoli International.

Madden also has donated her time as the spokesperson for Partnership for the Homeless and the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). After being diagnosed with a rare disease herself, she has become a healthcare advocate by meeting with the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to discuss appropriations, funding and research of over 7,000 rare disorders.
Madden continues her pro-bono speeches in Florida where she resides with her husband of five decades, Kevin Madden. 

Karen Jamison Trivette, MLS, is associate professor/librarian and head of Special Collections and College Archives at FIT. She has nearly 20 years of experience in art archives environments, including the Museum of Modern Art Archives and the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute.

Trivette earned her Master of Library Science with a concentration in Archives and Records Management from the University at Albany-SUNY and her Bachelor of Arts in the History of Art from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

She is currently engaged in her PhD studies in Archival Sciences at the Alma Mater Europaea of Maribor, Slovenia. Along with her archivist husband Geoffrey Huth, she co-hosts "An Archivist's Tale," a podcast that gives voice to archivists and archives-adjacent professionals. Trivette has published widely and presented at many conferences in the USA and abroad.

Unconventional Career Paths

A conversation with Colleen Salonga, Amanda Munz, and Ruth Wimer. Moderated by Rodney Hutton.

Life after graduation can go in many directions. Join three professionals who leveraged the skills they learned at FIT to propel them onto diverse career paths.

Originally aired Friday, April 23

Colleen Salonga is a retired U.S. Navy Captain and served as the Director of Supply Chain Management for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter supporting 12 countries. She graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a BS in Economics. She also has an MBA from The George Washington University, a master’s degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College, and a master’s degree in Global Fashion Management from the Fashion Institute of Technology. She is attending Iowa State University’s PhD program for Apparel, Merchandising, and Design, where her eventual dissertation will be on Circular Economy for the supply chain.

She has worked as a consultant for sustainability and supply chain management for retail and technology, and is currently supporting personal protective equipment (PPE) efforts for COVID-19 on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Amanda Munz is the founder of The Fashion Foundation, a nonprofit that recycles fashion samples to provide school supplies to local children in need.  To date, Amanda has recycled over 100,000 pounds of designer merchandise to impact 15,000 local children.  

Amanda received a Bachelors in Fashion Merchandising Management from FIT and a Masters of Public Administration from Baruch College and has since been featured in the New York Times, WWD, ABC News and more.

Ruth Wimer, Esq. has extensive experience advising clients on complex compensation tax issues, including reporting and withholding. She has deep industry knowledge with respect to incentive compensation and multibillion-dollar fee deferral issues for hedge funds and private equity firms. She advises on large deduction timing issues in connection with mergers and acquisitions.

Ruth’s practice includes structuring optimum ownership of private aircraft and business jets, factoring in deduction and income inclusion for personal use, excise tax, depreciation, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Standard Industry Fare Level (SIFL), and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issues. Ruth frequently resolves a gamut of compensation issues such as employment taxes, stock options, Section 162(m), Section 83, deduction limitations, the entertainment disallowance, and a wide variety of fringe benefits, including health insurance.

While working as a senior partner in the national tax department of a Big Four accounting firm, Ruth was the firm resource on executive compensation, reporting issues, personal use of company aircraft, and nonqualified deferred compensation. Earlier in her career, she served as a tax law specialist with the Internal Revenue Service.

Ruth received her B.S and BA in Business Management from Georgetown University McDonough School of Business. She received her J.D. from American University – Washington College of Law, and her LL.M. in Tax from Georgetown University Law Center

Rodney Hutton is an entrepreneurial product-driven brand marketing executive. Hutton’s full suite of expertise in business management, design, merchandising, creative development, and global marketing strategies, have been groomed over 25 years of working with some of the world’s most notable brand marketers including Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani, Karl Lagerfeld, Ann Klein, and Iconix Brand Group, amongst others.

In 2007, Hutton founded Fashion Iconic LLC, a consulting firm that offered private equity groups strategic insights and options into brand value in both pre- and post-acquisition considerations.  

In 2015, Hutton, in partnership, founded Simon James London & Empire Beauty Group, an innovative boutique fine fragrance and beauty company that designs, manufactures, markets, and distributes a growing portfolio of unique licensed fine fragrance and organic beauty brands.

Since 2019, Hutton has served as the CMO of Ethan Allen Interiors Inc., one of the nation’s largest furniture and interior design companies and has been instrumental in driving the brand’s growth and modernization efforts working closely with legendary Chairman and CEO Farooq Kathwari. Hutton holds a Bachelor of Arts in business and political science from the City University of New York.

Norma Kamali

Norma Kamali in conversation with FIT president Dr. Joyce F. Brown.

Originally aired Friday, April 9

Norma Kamali and Dr. Brown

Norma Kamali has been in the fashion industry for over 50 years and is known for her innovative designs. She designed the Sleeping Bag Coat on a camping trip in the seventies, as well as multi-style jersey dresses. In 1973 her designs were referred to as ‘vintage of the future’ and are, in fact, part of her line today in washable, easy-care fabrics. Her swimwear has made a global influence for over forty years. The Parachute Collection is in several notable museums and is still evolving as part of her collection today.

In 1980 Norma introduced her sweats collection that became the forerunner of what is today called Active and Athleisure Wear. In the mid-nineties she created the NK ‘try before you buy’ website and was the first designer to have a store on eBay. During this time, she continued her exploration of alternative, healthy lifestyle practices; a search that began after the loss of her dear friends to AIDS.

After 9/11 Norma opened the Wellness Café; a curated collection of personal care and food products that support the immune system. The Wellness Café hosted talks and events featuring experts in the wellness arena. Teas, meditation, and classes were held every day at 6 pm.

In 2007 Norma collaborated with Walmart in a three-year licensee partnership where she created a collection of timeless styles all $20 and under. According to Norma, this was one of the most inspired and exciting experiences of her career.

As a result of the successful collection on Walmart.com, Norma was determined to transform her company to be exclusively e-commerce. Her current distribution network is to all major e-commerce players as well as a selection of specialty stores throughout America and Europe.

In 2016 Norma Kamali received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the CFDA to add to her numerous awards from the fashion industry.

In 2019 NORMALIFE was launched under the concept of a healthy lifestyle. NORMALIFE is democratic and inclusive for men and women of all ages, skin color, and type. The first launch was a skin line of timeless, safe ingredients and the packaging was developed with a sustainability focus.

I AM INVINCIBLE, Norma’s healthy lifestyle guide on aging with power, was released February 2021. Norma continues to live through her purpose in life of empowering women.

Dr. Joyce F. Brown is president of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), a specialized college of art and design, business and technology of the State University of New York (SUNY). Appointed in 1998, she is the college’s sixth president.

Dr. Brown, a highly regarded educator and academic administrator, has had over 40 years’ experience in public higher education. She held a number of senior administrative posts at the City University of New York (CUNY) before arriving at FIT, including acting president of Bernard Baruch College and vice chancellor of the university. Prior to her appointment at FIT, she was professor of counseling psychology at the Graduate School and University Center of CUNY, where she is a professor emerita. Dr. Brown also served as a New York City deputy mayor for public and community affairs during the David Dinkins administration.

At FIT, Dr. Brown has led an ambitious, unprecedented multi-year, multimillion-dollar initiative coordinating strategic and investment planning that has transformed the college. She has built faculty ranks, increased technology, improved student services, enhanced the campus with new and renovated facilities, and invigorated its culture with groundbreaking initiatives in diversity and sustainability. In widely expanding the curriculum, she has added innovative new programs and interdisciplinary minors and raised the profile of the liberal arts. FIT serves over 8,000 full- and part-time students with a faculty and staff of more than 1,700. Dr. Brown is FIT’s first woman and first African American president.

Throughout her career, Dr. Brown has been a strong advocate for public higher education and has demonstrated a sophisticated knowledge of the many communities that make up New York City. She directed numerous special initiatives for CUNY, including the Urban Summit of Big City Mayors, as well as collaborations between the New York City Board of Education and the university, which focused on improving  academic preparation and retention in the secondary schools. In addition, she created and directed programs with the government of South Africa, including the Professional Development Program—an effort inspired by Nelson Mandela—designed to prepare Black South Africans for key positions in business and industry.

Active in numerous community, civic, and professional organizations, Dr. Brown also serves as president of the FIT Foundation, an advisory and support body to FIT. She is currently a director of AFFOA (Advanced Functional Fabrics of America) and the Park Avenue Armory as well as a trustee of the Culinary Institute of America and the Economic Club of New York. She is also a Clean Revolution Ambassador for The Climate Group. In addition, she has served on statewide commissions and task forces on the Black family, child care, and domestic violence. She has been honored by numerous educational, cultural, and civic organizations including New York University, Marymount College, Clark Atlanta University, The Town Hall, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.

Dr. Brown earned her doctorate and master’s degree in counseling psychology from New York University and her bachelor’s degree from Marymount College in Tarrytown, New York, where she served as a trustee from 1994 to 2000. She also received a certificate from the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University.

FIT, which was founded in 1944 to prepare students for careers in fashion, today offers almost 50 degree programs not only in fashion and its related fields, but also in areas where industry has made New York City its focal point. It offers two-year programs leading to the AAS degree, four-year programs, including two in the liberal arts, leading to a BFA or BS degree, and graduate programs granting Master of Arts, Master of Professional Studies, and Master of Fine Arts degrees. It also offers competency-based certificate programs in a wide variety of fields.

Aligning Social Justice and Business

A converasation with Sergio Guadarrama, Lauren Maillian, and Cheryl Ann Wadlington. Moderated by Jacqueline Jenkins.

Over the past year, businesses have had to ask: what is our role in addressing issues pertaining to social justice? How do we engage and how do we build diversity, equity, access, and inclusion into our business practices? Join three FIT alumni as they discuss their insights on building a strong pipeline to ensure we are thinking holistically about these issues.

Originally aired on Friday, April 9

Sergio Guadarrama, Lauren Maillian, Cheryl Ann Wadlington, and Jacqueline Jenkins.

Sergio “CELESTINO” Guadarrama and Kade Johnson are creating the world of CELESTINO with precisely crafted, eco-conscious and fashion-forward women's and men’s collections. Established in 2005, the company unites classical couture techniques with innovative concepts, up-cycled luxury fabrics, and unconventional details to create the aesthetic of CELESTINO. The CELESTINO atelier prides itself on being fully inclusive to all sizes and providing an intimate, personalized, unique experience for each client. The company makes a conscious effort to design garments that are tailored to each client’s specific body type and sense of style- an upheld tradition true to the ways of haute couture. The brand currently operates its atelier in Hudson, New York.

CELESTINO believes in designing with a purpose, maintaining a strong socially conscious mentality and standing up for environmental and political issues that affect the United States and beyond. Each design is created with hidden messages in order to bring awareness to social causes, and in turn, prompt others to assist in resolving them. As a company, CELESTINO recognizes that fashion and the environment have to coexist. In an effort to be an environmentally sustainable brand, they stray away from the creation of new textiles, exclusively using up-cycled materials (dead stocked fabrics left over from the fashion industry), and other findings. Sergio and Kade pride themselves in designing for clients of all sizes and ages; their goal is to empower each individual as they step into a CELESTINO garment.

After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles, Sergio “CELESTINO” Guadarrama continued his love of studying at the prominent Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. While in school, he worked with private clients and won numerous fashion design accolades, including the inaugural “Supima Cotton Design Competition.” Sergio's skills were further refined during his freelance work at the Metropolitan Opera which gave him hands-on experience to build his craft. While freelancing, he had the privilege to work on productions such as “Madame Butterfly” and “Magic Flute” where he developed knowledge of old-world techniques, gaining expertise in a dying art and truly understanding how to drape for the human body.

Lauren Maillian is a change agent committed to diversity, innovation and inclusion. She is the CEO of digitalundivided, the social startup that leverages data and advocacy to catalyze economic growth and success for Black and Latinx women entrepreneurs. The former board chair of digitalundivided, Lauren is an award-winning marketer and brand strategist, entrepreneur, tech investor and advisor.

Lauren is the Founder and CEO of LMB Group, a strategic marketing and brand advisory company working with Fortune 500 brands and high-growth startups like J.P. Morgan, Cover Girl, and Bumble and Bumble. Lauren was invited by Walmart's CEO to join the Board of Disruptors of their first-ever Innovation Council. A pioneer in the tech space, she was the first black woman to start an early-stage venture capital fund, as a founding partner and Managing Director at Gen Y Capital Partners. She has advised and invested in over 40 startups. Lauren serves as an advisor to Pipeline Angels, a social enterprise that trains executive women to become angel investors. She is also the founder of Straight Up and Successful, a community and personal and professional development company that empowers and advocates for women. She has distilled what she’s learned about entrepreneurship in her best-selling memoir, The Path Redefined: Getting To the Top On Your Own Terms.

Lauren began her entrepreneurial journey at age 19, when she became the youngest self-made winery owner in the country, co-founding Virginia’s Sugarleaf Vineyards. As the Chief Operating Officer of the boutique winery, it became an internationally recognized, award-winning brand that was eventually acquired in 2011. She has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Business Insider, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Cosmo, Inc., CNBC, MSNBC, Fortune, Black Enterprise and others. Lauren was recently named to The Root 100 List of most influential African-Americans in 2020.

She serves on the Board of Directors at CoSign, a technology company which allows users to monetize social media and shareable content, and at the spirits brand LIQS. Lauren is on the Board of The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Advisory Committee on Cultural Engagement. She is creator of The Collab art series, which uplifts the work of artists of color. She was also the Vice Chair of The Apollo Theater Foundation’s Young Patrons Steering Committee, a member of New York Urban League’s Development Committee and is a founding member of the Young Entrepreneur Council. Lauren holds a Bachelor of Science, Magna Cum Laude, in International Trade and Marketing from the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Cheryl Ann Wadlington is a global change agent and leading consultant in the field of personal growth. Recognized by the White House as a 2016 “Champion of Change,” Wadlington was honored for her leadership and work in developing extracurricular enrichment for marginalized girls. The national fashion and beauty journalist founded and became chief executive officer in 2004 of Philadelphia-based The Evoluer House.

Under Wadlington’s leadership, the organization has delivered award-winning empowerment programs over the past 16 years to more than 2,000 teen girls of
color experiencing unique social and emotional challenges and barriers to success.

The Evoluer House works to equip the most underserved and hardest-to-reach girls in Philadelphia with essential tools to become college-bound and career-ready, thus breaking the cycle of inter-generational poverty. As a testament to its success, 100 percent of Evoluer House graduates finish high school on time and 90 percent go on to four-year colleges.

Wadlington is an accomplished writer, television personality and sought-after motivational speaker who has reached millions of people – through such outlets
as Vogue, Elle, Self, Life & Style, Lucky, C-Span, NBC’s iVillage Live and NPR – with her advice and perspective published. Wadlington is co-author and contributing
editor of “SoulStyle: Black Women Redefining the Color of Fashion,” which drew much-needed attention to Black America’s female style leaders, from Pam Grier
to Diana Ross. In 2013, she authored the critically acclaimed “The DivaGirl’s Guide to Style and Self-Respect” to inspire girls throughout the nation to take
a bold leap toward success.

She also taught fashion journalism at Temple University, where she orchestrated internship opportunities for her students at some of the most prestigious fashion
houses and publications in the world, including Gucci, BCBG Max Azria and In Style magazine.

Wadlington is a Philadelphia native and alumnae of New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology. With countless proclamations for her contributions to youth development from such dignitaries as the Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and New Jersey State Senate and General Assembly, she has had an
impact that has transcended borders. Bermuda’s former Minister of Education Dame Jennifer Smith applauded Evoluer House’s exemplary program for moving girls toward greatness. The London-based NGO A Safe World for Women recognized the organization for its efforts in nurturing at-risk girls. Wadlington has also partnered with government officials in Kenya from the Kiambu County Justice and Legal Committee to empower girls in
the east African nation.

In 2020, she was one of 10 women in the nation selected by L'Oréal Paris, as a Women of Worth, which honors extraordinary women who selflessly give back to
their communities. And one year before Wadlington was named a White House “Champion of Change,” President Barack Obama recognized the Evoluer House for 11 years of service to young, urban girls.

Wadlington is on a mission to advance all of girlkind.

Jacqueline M. Jenkins is the acting executive director of Strategic Planning and Innovation. In this role, she oversees the development of FIT’s strategic plan and the fulfillment of the college’s commitment to innovation.  

Previously, Jenkins was the dean of graduate studies at LIM College, where she led the development and execution of graduate-level programs including the MBA and the Master of Professional Studies (MPS) programs in fashion merchandising and retail management, fashion marketing, and visual merchandising.  She was the founding dean of the global fashion supply chain management degree. She co-authored a textbook, Fashion Supply Chain Management (Fairchild).    

At the Wharton School of Business, Jenkins served as the program executive for the University of Pennsylvania Energy Efficiency Buildings Hub. Before joining Wharton, she was the COO for Milligan & Co., a regional accounting firm. In both of these roles, she built relationships with local entrepreneurs and public officials to generate contracting opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses.  

In 2000, Jenkins founded Add Value Day 1, an advisory business that developed operational strategies and raised capital for early-stage companies. As a consultant, she completed extensive economic development and business strategy engagements in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Before that, she held corporate finance and supply-chain management positions with Ann Taylor, Inc., after beginning her career with the First National Bank of Boston.

Jenkins has held the following board appointments: Pennsylvania Private Investors Group (investment fund), the Ben Franklin Technology Partners Enterprise Growth Fund (microloan program); and the Philadelphia 100 (business conference). She currently serves as a board member of the supply-chain trade organization APICS New York City–Long Island Chapter.  

The Philadelphia Business Journal named her a Forty Under Forty honoree; the journal also honored her as one of its Women of Distinction. The Networking Journal recognized her as one of the most influential African-American businesswomen.

Jenkins earned her BA in economics from Spelman College and her MBA in finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She is the founder of Sophisticated Curation, a web community for the mature fashionista.  

Douglas Hand and Monica Phromsavanh, Equal Hands

A virtual conversation hosted by Fern Mallis.

Originally aired on Friday, April 9

Headshots of Douglas Hand, Monica Phromsavanh, and Fern Mallis

Mr. Hand is one of the pre-eminent fashion lawyers in the country. He has been featured and profiled in numerous media outlets and publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, the American Bar Association Journal, Women’s Wear Daily and The Business of Fashion. Douglas is a founding member of the law firm Hand Baldachin & Associates LLP (HBA) which specializes in the representation of fashion and lifestyle companies (such as Stella McCartney, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Anna Sui, Public School, Zadig and Voltaire and Joseph Altuzarra – to name just a few).  

He is a Board member of Fashion Group International (FGI), a member of the Business Advisory Committee of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), a member of the CFDA Fashion Awards Guild and was on the Advisory Board of the CFDA’s Incubator while it was in existence. Douglas is also an adjunct professor of Fashion Law at both NYU School of Law (where he also sits on the Fashion & Luxury Council) and Cardozo School of Law (where he also sits on the Board of Advisors for the Fashion, Arts, Media and Entertainment (FAME) Law Center). His book The Law and Business of Fashion and Retail, was published in 2020 by Carolina Academic Press (he also has another book The Laws of Style published by the American Bar Association in 2018 – and a current podcast of the same name).

A long time ago, Douglas began his legal career in the New York and Paris offices of the global law firm Shearman & Sterling, representing domestic and international clients in public and private transactions. Notable deals include representing Citicorp in its merger with Travelers and representing Fiat S.p.A. in its strategic alliance with General Motors.

A former NCAA athlete in three sports and an avid fan, Douglas has been a contributor and speaker at conferences on the sports and entertainment sector and its intersection with the business of fashion.

He sits on numerous advisory boards in the fashion industry as well a charitable institutions including Board seats at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) Foundation, Goodwill of NY/NJ and The Kitchen (a supporter of interdisciplinary art that has incubated such established “experimental” artists as David Byrne, Laurie Anderson and Bill T. Jones).

In the late 70’s, the secret war in Laos displaced many families and killed so many others. Families were torn apart and displaced through the war, including mine. We sought asylum in Argentina, which is where I grew up in a refugee camp. Abandoned by my mother at the age of 6, my father was left to raise me. He was overwhelmed by the magnitude of our plight and barely present in a poverty-stricken environment. In these challenging circumstances, I had to find ways to fend for myself. During the night, I would wander around our camp, offering to do chores and dishes to get a meal from our neighbors; those were the nights I would relish because I got to eat. Other nights, I wasn’t as lucky. To survive, I spent my afternoons on the streets selling souvenirs hand-made by artisans in my community. I worked hard to make a living and feed myself. I grew up in challenging conditions, but I never lost hope for better days and never stopped dreaming of a better life. I dropped out of school and at 15, I made my way to Buenos Aires. The random twists and turns in my life got me to New York City, where I found work in the fashion industry. Some may call this ‘luck’ or ‘fate.’ I saw it as an opportunity to pull myself up. Fast forward to 2018; I traveled to Luang Prabang, Laos for the first time since I left to reconnect with my roots. I was able to immerse myself in my parent’s culture, learn more about the land that I came from, and better understand my people.

While on the trip, I visited a monastery that was nestled in a remote area on a mountain. As I climbed up ancient steps, making my way to the monastery, a group of young children ran up to me. These little children were selling local bracelets, just as I had once done. I pulled out my last bit of cash and bought a bracelet. These children insisted I buy another, but I didn’t have anything left to give them. They continued to plead. “Please help me. I need to eat tonight.” “I have walked a great distance to get here, and I’m really hungry.” These words made my heart sink. I was speechless, angry, and overwhelmed with strong emotions. I had never felt so powerless in my life. I saw my reflection in these children’s eyes. I realized that although I had escaped poverty, those feelings of hopelessness from my childhood still lay within me. I was drawn back to my past as if it was just yesterday. Since that day, I vowed to have a positive impact on those going through life in extreme poverty. I want to provide them with opportunities and hope so they no longer have to feel defeated in life. No one should suffer through life like this. Our purchase decisions can change people’s lives for the better.

Hailed as the award-winning creator of New York Fashion Week, Fern Mallis has been called an industry titan, doyenne, and The Godmother of Fashion. As the creator and host of premiere conversation series Fashion Icons w/Fern Mallis at NewYork’s prestigious 92nd Street Y, Mallis assembled an incredible roster of guests for her now signature in-depth interviews, including: Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Tommy Hilfiger, Tom Ford, Michael Kors, Diane von Fürstenberg, Polly Mellen, Marc Jacobs, Vera Wang, Oscar de la Renta, André Leon Talley, Bruce Weber, Bill Cunningham,  Valentino,  Leonard  A. Lauder, Tim Gunn, Victoria Beckham, Rosita and Angela Missoni, Alexander Wang, and Christian Louboutin, to name just a few. For the opening of her 7th season of Fashion Icons, during New York Fashion Week, Mallis interviewed NBA star Russell Westbrook for the launch of his book Style Drivers (Rizzoli).

As one of the most photographed women in the industry, Mallis is widely and consistently quoted in the fashion press and broadcast media, especially on The Business of Fashion. She has been frequently featured on televised fashion and news magazine programs, including Project Runway, America’s Next Top Model, She's Got the Look, and The Fashion Show, withIsaac Mizrahi and Kelly Rowland. She was also a consulting producer on the CW network’s reality television series ReModeled.

Mallis is the recipient of a great many industry awards and accolades. She’s received the Fashion Maverick Award from American Apparel and Footwear Association, Woman of the Year Leadership Award from Concern Worldwide, Fashion Legacy Award from the Fashion Chamber of Commerce State of Style Awards, Special Award from the Diversity Affluence Organization, and the Leadership Award from the Fashion Center BID, among others. She was honored by Pratt Institute with their 2012 Fashion Industry Lifetime Achievement Award – presented to her by designer Calvin Klein. In May 2013, she was presented with the rarely bestowed Fashion Institute of Technology President’s Lifetime Achievement Award, delivering the keynote commencement address. She’s been featured in the BoF (Business of Fashion) 500: The People Shaping the Global Fashion Industry, and in 2014 was inducted into the first BoF 500 Hall of Fame.

A founding board member of the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA), Mallis also served on the Board of The Partnership for the Homeless and created their Furnish a Future program.  She was also instrumental in the creation and success of The Heart Truth's Red Dress Initiative for Women’s Heart Disease.  The “Sidewalk Catwalk” themed exhibition in NY’s Fashion district — an outdoor display of 32 mannequins created by the industry’s leading designers on Broadway from 35th Street to 42nd Street during the summer of 2010, was chaired by Mallis. She was instrumental in the creation and worldwide licensing of Fashion Targets Breast Cancer — a campaign that has generated well over $100 million in donations for hundreds of breast cancer organizations worldwide.  She oversaw two editions of the highly successful fundraiser "7th on Sale," which grossed more than $8 million for AIDS charities.

Mallis has also raised considerable money for design scholarships and numerous other initiatives to benefit designers and the industry at large.

Former Senior VP of IMG Fashion, Mallis served as IMG's "Ambassador" and traveled to international fashion capitals to provide her expertise in creating and organizing fashion events and establishing international marketing and communications platforms. She has judged fashion shows and competitions around the world, and mentored fashion students on how to succeed in fashion careers. As former executive director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America from 1991 to 2001, she furthered the organization's original charter to promote American fashion as a "recognized branch of American art and culture.” She also organized 10 annual CFDA Fashion Awards Galas.

Mallis is currently president of her own fashion and design consultancy, formed to "advise, consult and create,” working with international and domestic fashion, lifestyle and design companies on branding, image, creative business strategies, and event production. She is on the board of directors for FIT Foundation in New York, and Tara Jewels in Mumbai, India, and serves on the advisory boards of AhaLife, ORDRE, 8, Dia&Co, and other emerging companies.

She’s consultant and advisor to regional Fashion Weeks in Charleston, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Omaha, and Nashville. She’s executive advisor and consultant to Concept Korea for NYFW and has created mentorship programs for Seoul Fashion Week.

In addition to her 92Y Fashion Icons series, she created and hosted her own radio show, Fashion Insiders w/Fern Mallis on Sirius XM's flagship celebrity talk channel – STARS, interviewing the best and brightest industry personalities, celebrities, and professionals. In the three years her radio show was on the air, Mallis conducted over 400 fashion interviews. In January 2012, she made her theatre stage debut in the Off-Broadway production of Nora & Delia Ephron’s Love, Loss, and What I Wore. Mallis also created her own globally inspired FERN FINDS: jewelry, clothing and accessories line for QVC and HSN.

In April 2015, Fern Mallis released her book Fashion Lives: Fashion Icons with Fern Mallis, published by Rizzoli USA. The much-lauded compendium of nineteen of her 92Y interviews, includes an array of intimate never-before-seen images detailing family histories and behind the scenes lives of the interviewees. It’s currently available at all major bookstores, as well as Amazon.com, Saks.com, Barneys, and other specialty stores. In spring 2017, Fashion Lives was published and released in Japan.

As an inspirational public speaker, Mallis makes numerous regular appearances both here in the US and abroad.

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