Vera Wang, 54, is a fashion designer born in New York City to a Chinese-American family. Wang was the daughter of a Chinese born business tycoon and an elegant, worldly mother who regularly shopped the couture shows in Paris. Wang began figure skating at the age of eight and began training for the Olympics in 1968 and ended up not doing well. She graduated from college of Sarah Lawrence with a degree in art history and tried working her way up the fashion food chain. Wang’s father had no faith in her but she had the passion and desire and continued to focus on fashion.
In 1989, it was her own wedding that launched her wedding brand while working for Ralph Laure. She worked at Vogue magazine for sixteen years as a senior fashion editor before she became a successful designer. Vera Wang also served as design director for Ralph Lauren for two years. In 1990 with some financial backing from her father, Wang opened her first luxury salon in New York to showcase her own personal bridal designs. She designed gowns for celebrities like Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Lopez and Victoria Beckham. Wang also was famous for the design of NFL football cheerleader and figure skater uniforms.
Wang received international attention during the 1994 Olympics when she designed a hand-beaded ensemble for figure skater Nancy Kerrigan. To date, both her bridal and evening apparel are sold at over 55 upscale retailers, including Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. The reason Vera was so successful was the fact that she was able to understand the wants and needs of her clients, which kept them coming back to her. Wang used her failures to propel her farther and farther in the world. When one door closed, another opened. Wang also expanded her brand name through her fragrance, jewelry, eyewear, shoe and houseware collections.
In 2005, Wang was selected as Womenswear Designer of the year by The Council of Fashion Designers of America. Wang has a leadership style that helps make her more successful than others in her position. Wang utilizes help to filter the barrage of emails and phone calls that would normally distract her from her day to day functions of running her company. She knows how to delegate and evenly distribute tasks to get the most out of her day. She feels it is not just the CEO that runs the company but the employees as a whole. Vera Wang has had some major business challenges in establishing and running her own company.
The first challenge she has is to keep competing in the fashion industry. Wang made the comment during a fashion week discussion, “There is a democratization of design, not just fashion, and it is a challenge for designers to constantly be creative but also worry about the reality of that creativity. ” The second challenge Wang faces is the fact that the fashion industry is not the same as it was when she began as the internet has allowed people to buy and shop globally now. In the early days of fashion, communication was not as effective.
Today, with internet access, fashion information and style information go around the world in a matter of seconds. The third and biggest challenge is to service any market. Wang states that she has to know the trends are not just in fashion but also in culture. She feels that by knowing what people wear when they go to a coffee shop or a disco is just as important as dealing with a problem like when she has a client in the Western market and the manufacturer is thousands of miles away in Asia. She feels by keeping up with this that it helps bring the two sides together.