By Candace Tkac, Class of 2019
Have you ever seen the stylish, cohesive Instagram pages of companies like Oars + Alps, Trunk Club, and Crate&Barrel and wondered about the strategy that underlies the brand? At the 3rd annual Retail and Luxury Group conference, themed “Retail Renaissance: The New Age of Innovative Retail,” speakers gave Booth students, prospective students, and industry professionals an inside look at how their brands are innovating with new business strategies to capture the modern and discerning consumer. Panels were moderated by Alana Widdess, Booth alum (MBA ’10) and founder of the Chicagoland Retail Network, with a keynote speech given by Al Sambar, Managing Director, Retail & Digital Innovation Strategy for Kurt Salmon.
During the first panel, attendees learned how new, direct to consumer brands take advantage of trends such as personalization and social media partnerships to build brand loyalty. Panelists included Kelsey Lutz, COO of Luxury Garage sale, Mia Saini Duchnowski, CEO and Cofounder of Oars+Alps, and Lisey Barela, Chicago Head of Sales for Trunk Club. During the second panel, Jose Chan, VP Business Development for CELECT, Emily Xu, Head of Strategy for Crate&Barrel, and Sarah Jahnke, Director of Marketing for L’Oreal gave their perspective on ways to innovate on the customer experience for established brands with techniques such as pop-up shops and data collection. Attendees were able to network with conference speakers during dinner and a reception and left the conference with free samples from attending brands.
Retail and Luxury Group would like to extend a special thanks to Grad Council and Graduate Business Council for funding, and Lo&Sons and Amazon for raffle prize donations. The group is excited to continue fostering relationships between Booth students and retailers during the upcoming year, with networking, education, and social events!