We have to hand it to the Fashion & Retail Association of Boston University (FAB) – it organized a wonderful private event for its members at the new Gucci store in The Shops at Prudential Center on Boylston Street.
We arrived with plenty of time to enjoy hors d’oeuvres and browse the store. Our Italian friend, Silvia – a long time Gucci aficionado and retail marketing guru – offered her perspective on Frida Giannini’s impact on the brand since she became Creative Director in 2005. Silvia is unimpressed with the recent crystal GG collection, but maintains that the classics (especially the original Jackie hobo) are must-haves for any serious handbag collector.
What we anticipated would be an intimate affair became quite a crowd as FAB members gathered to hear Patrick J. Valeo, Vice President of Stores for Gucci America speak about his career path and the state of Gucci.
Valeo, who has held positions at Baccarat, Kiehl’s and LVMH was suprisingly young, very personable and down to earth. He shared personal career anecdotes and tips for succeeding in the retail industry. Networking is key (“use LinkedIn to make and keep track of contacts”), as is being proactive (“I pass along every unsolicited resume I receive”) and taking the time to listen to both customers and employees is extremely important. Although he addressed a primarily undergraduate crowd, he gave a shout out to the MBAs in the room by stating that “managing four walls” is one of the best ways to put MBA training to good use.
Valeo also made it quite clear that Gucci is in great shape and has plans to expand despite the economic climate.
Congrats and thanks to FAB for a great event!