Taking the Lead
BY Timo Weiland | Co-Founder & Chief Community Officer | The Lead
We founded The Lead — to bridge two industries that desperately need to communicate with each other now more than ever— fashion and technology.
Our first event, The Lead Breakfast Salon on March 8th, opened the door to a new network and fresh perspectives for the 90 attendees: executives from fashion, beauty, retail, and technology. In round-table discussions, decision-makers from iconic American retail institutions, such as GAP, Barneys New York, and Dillard’s connected with industry innovators and challengers, such as Walmart’s Store No. 8, and Rent The Runway. Over a delicious breakfast, leading tech investors from Andreessen Horowitz, Greycroft, and Primary engaged with startups across the value-chain. Emerging tech companies Bluecore, Button, and Blueday alongside venture-backed digital natives including BaubleBar, Greats Shoes, and Tictail. Sketch-to-scale hardware manufacturer Flex mingled with CFDA directors and members. such as Cynthia Rowley and Public School, who made the rounds to each table focusing on topics ranging from e-Commerce, In-Store, Payment Processing to Supply Chain, Manufacturing to Marketing.The key take away? —There is much to be learned from each other.
The morning’s grand finale was, without a doubt, the keynote and conversation with Walmart Store No. 8’s Katie Finnegan, who was recently appointed CEO of Spatialand, a virtual reality x retail startup. Katie has spearheaded the growth of Store No. 8 with JET founder, Mark Lore since its launch in 2017. From launching her own venture-back startup Hukkster, prior to its acquisition by JET, to leading the incubation arm of Walmart through Store No. 8, Katie offered phenomenal insight into actionable innovation strategies for companies of all sizes.
Lightheartedly focused and inspiring, the atmosphere of the Salon in the beautiful and cozy Lafayette Cav du Vin in NoHo (during the heaviest blizzard of the season!) left space for dialogue and encouraged those in the room to ask one another the hard questions surrounding the problems each was facing, and also to explore where opportunities are hiding. The possibility for success is everywhere, and it was a pleasure to see the optimism with which executives left the breakfast, armed with answers and clarity on their newly formulated plans for the future.
We left optimistically too. Noah and I have set out to help the industry move forward, by providing a platform to help executives know what’s next and for getting ahead of the innovation curve. The event confirmed our passion for The Lead’s mission — empower the fashion business’ transition to digital centricity.