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The Workshop at Macy’s – Creating a Pipeline of Opportunitites

May 21, 2012 – The 2012 Workshop at Macy’s is happening now! This year’s class of 17 select minority and women-owned entrepreneurs will gain greater insight of the retailing industry, learning what they need to know about further developing their products and working successfully with a major retailer. Described as “life-changing” and “groundbreaking” by past participants, the program gives each candidate perpetual knowledge they’ll be able to use long term.

With merchandise ranging from hosiery to housewares, the product category has grown immensely and brings a broad spectrum of diversity to the program. This year’s participating businesses range in maturity from two years to five or more – experiences they’ll be able to share with one another as they go through the Workshop’s intense team-based exercises. Three of this year’s participants are Project Runway alum; Kara Janx, Qristyl Frazier, and Korto Momolu were all strong contenders on the popular reality show. Several participants design jewelry for celebrity clients; another creates purses from scratch from materials collected around the world.

“We’re excited for the incoming 2012 Workshop at Macy’s participants and very happy with the high level of product diversity in this year’s class, says Director of Minority Development and Workshop program head Erin Wilson. “We’ve upped the ante on the material delivery to ensure each candidate better succeeds and grows during their week with us, building on what we learned from the inaugural Workshop.”

The curriculum is similar to last year but a few changes have been made. In addition to the application process, this year’s participants are doing prework to help ready them for the experience, and there are more team-based exercises this year. This not only helps the participants get into the mindset for the week, but also helps the Workshop’s team of facilitators, merchants, and business leaders gain insight into the companies’ strengths and weaknesses so they can zero in on where to focus with each individual company.

Retail math and finance make up a substantial part of the curriculum, says Wilson, and this robust part of the program is designed to help participants build financial acumen in a way that will help business performance and sustained growth. “It helps them not only develop but also sustain success with whatever major retailer they partner with,” she says. In addition to building financial acumen and sustainable growth, participants also gain expertise in brand building and presenting a strong business case to retail buyers.

Five participants from the 2011 Workshops have merchandise hitting Macy’s stores beginning in May 2012; check back for news and insights as well as interviews with the new vendors as they roll out their inaugural lines with one of the nation’s largest retailers!