Fall 2019 Newsletter
December 2019

What a great year!
I was trying to think what to write as this semester comes to an end, how to best convey my appreciation to our many supporters. And I looked at my bulletin board and saw a quote from Pearl S. Buck that I have had posted for many years:
The young do not know enough to be prudent and therefore they attempt the impossible --- and achieve it generation after generation!
This quote brings me great hope for the future. I want to thank everyone who supports our Center, Our Program, Our Curriculum, Our School, and Our University.
Our students are truly accomplishing amazing things every day. And thanks to all of you they have access to the resources, faculty, classes and mentors that support them as they prepare to take on the challenges and achieve great things.
I look forward to working with everyone in 2020 and seeing the growth continue. 
Happy New Year!!

Were you inspired by an instructor, participated in a case competition, traveled to a conference, had in internship, engaged with the Student Retail Association, or discovered a new path in the retailing industry?
The annual fund supports student life and learning experiences- from scholarships to small-group mentoring to career counseling, the fund provides vital and and immediate support to take advantage of "just in time" opportunities for students. 

When you give to the SoHE annual fund you are a part of something bigger than ever imagined- you are joining a community of Badgers just like you who say:  Yes, I believe in the School of Human Ecology and I cant wait to see what the next generation can do! 

Student Internship Spotlights: Meet Anesha and Alex!

Anesha Gordon - Target

Associate Buyer Intern for Target, Minneapolis, MN
Senior, Retailing & Consumer Behavior

"I had the opportunity to work in Minneapolis, MN at Target's Headquarters in the Merchandising department. I was placed in the Beauty department focusing on Facial skincare, Premium skincare, and Natural skincare. My goal this summer was to research digital beauty retailers and identify white space opportunities for Target beauty on .com and identify actionable recommendations to enhance the customer experience. I was able to see some of my recommendations implemented by the end of the summer as well as see them open up more doors for innovation. On a day to day basis, I owned submitting weekly advertisements, communicating with vendors for samples and promotions, temporary price cuts, proofing sales plans, and contributing in meetings alongside my team. My favorite part about this summer was being able to sit in vendor meetings with brands that I use everyday and be able to give them recommendations from my perspective."
- Anesha Gordon 

Alexander Carlson - Macy's
Connect with Alexander on LinkedIn here.
Product Development Intern, New York, NY
Senior, Retailing and Consumer Behavior 

"As a Product Development Intern working in shoes for Macy's private brand I.N.C., I was exposed to the detail and expertise that Macy's employs in its development cycle. Since the internship is in New York City, Macy's gave us interns ample opportunities to explore the city in its out-of-office Friday program. I felt that I got great exposure to the industry I'll be in after graduation while getting to know NYC, which are two huge reasons I'll be returning full-time this summer."
- Alexander Carlson



Alumni Executive in Residence: Connie Wald
Fall 2019

Fall 2019 Alumni Executive in Residence
Connie's background includes marketing, CRM, database management, product development, new product introductions, advertising, promotion and merchandising. She has worked for several Fortune 500 retailers, cosmetic manufacturers and advertising agencies. Most recently she has been a marketing and business consultant to smaller companies.
Connie spent eight years as Vice President of Marketing for Neiman Marcus leading development of revenue growth with new customer acquisitions, and strategies and dramatically increasing current customer spending. 

More about the Executive in Residence Program
Executives in Residence bring an energy and perspective to the School of Human Ecology that enhances classroom and experiential learning, and develops long-term relationships between the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the retailing industry. The Executive in Residence's role relies on the strengths, interests, and experiences of the individual executive to influence the development of retail's future leaders and innovators.

Learn more about the program and how you could serve our students as a future Executive in Residence  here .

Thank you Connie for an amazing semester!
Featured Alumni: Emily Espinosa
Assistant Vice President - Brand Business Development, L'Oreal Paris Cosmetics; L'Oreal USA

Emily Espinosa is a 2009 Retailing and Consumer Behavior graduate of UW-Madison who was highly involved with the Center and Student Retail Association. In this interview, Emily provides a description of her career path and advice for future graduates.  

Describe your career path - where you started to where you are now. Did you always see retail as your path?

"I  interviewed with Target Corporate on Campus and accepted an internship for their summer program; I had an amazing experience and accepted a full time role coming out of that summer as an Analyst on the Buying track.  I spent almost 2 years with Target, and then due to personal circumstances, was looking to relocate.  I ended up taking a role with General Mills supporting the Walmart account in Bentonville, AR.  I did a variety of roles at General Mills in both Category Management and Sales for both Sam's Club and Walmart.  Once I found Sales, I knew this was my passion!  An opportunity came along for me to interview for a job at L'Oreal and it combined my passion for Sales with my passion for Beauty.  I've now been with L'Oreal for a little over 4 years and have since relocated to our headquarters in New York.  I couldn't be more happy, but never would have anticipated the path that got me where I am today.  I think one of the best things you can do in your career is to be open to jobs and locations that make you more well-rounded in your professional career.  I've taken a few risks along the way and haven't regretted anything; nothing is forever!"

What was your favorite part of the Retailing and Consumer Behavior major at UW, and how did the major most help you when you entered the industry?

"There are so many things I appreciate about the program!  There are a few things that still stick out to me.  The first being the curriculum and how it focuses on the soft skills.  The real life practice I received around "think on your feet" moments, presentations in front of large groups, creating and presenting content that was clear and concise, these are all things I still use today.  I am also thankful for all the above and beyond support especially as it relates to embarking on a career.  From resume workshops, career fairs, mock interviews, company introductions and more, I really do feel that I was set up for success.  And last but not least the professors and my classmates.  I still keep in touch with many of them today!"

What advice can you give on work/life balance, especially living in a huge urban setting?

" I think it's essential to find your key resources (both people and systems/key documents) and you cannot be afraid to ask questions.  There will be demanding times in any job, but if you know who you can go to in order to figure things out quickly it helps a lot.  Also making sure you have a support group of peers I've found to be helpful.  And if you're struggling to find work/life balance, seek out someone who is doing it well and learn from them."

What advice do you have for current Badgers interested in pursuing careers in retail?


"Take advantage of all the resources you have at your disposal (including alumni!).  I have a lot of students reach out to me and I'm always happy to connect and I know the same is true for many others; Badgers are everywhere!  And don't be afraid to take on a challenge or take a risk.  I never would have imagined living in Arkansas or New York but am so thankful for my time in both places.  Stepping out of your comfort zone is sometimes when you learn the most.  On Wisconsin!"



Summer 2019 Study Abroad: Trends in Europe 
May 2019 | Edinburgh, London & Paris

Retailing and Consumer Behavior professor, Dr. Nancy Murray, conducted her biennial faculty led study abroad trip "Trends in Europe" this past summer.  24 University of Wisconsin students traveled throughout Europe to Scotland, London and Paris.  The students were also guided in their trend research projects by former Target VP of Trend, Design and Product Development and author, Robyn Waters.  The group started out in Scotland learning about trend theory and how to translate trends, then had meetings with a variety of global trend forecasting companies and explored just about every retailer and brand in London and Paris as part of their trend research to create their Spring 2020 trend forecast for the USA.  Some additional activities included visiting the Edinburgh Castle and St. Andrews in Scotland; in London, seeing the musical Hamilton, visiting the V & A museum while attending the Christian Dior exhibit, and going on the London Eye; and in Paris, seeing the Atelier des Lumières Van Gogh exhibit and dinner in the Eiffel Tower.  

Las Vegas Trade Shows
August 2019 | Las Vegas, Nevada

Fourteen UW students attend the Las Vegas Trade Shows in August with the guidance of the Center's Academic Director,
Dr. Nancy Murray.  Students attended a variety of shows including Liberty & Agenda at the Sands Expo, and the many different MAGIC  trade shows at the Las Vegas Convention Center.  Students met with vendors, shadowed buyers, attended trend seminars and other educational programs. On the last day, students toured the Zappo's headquarters and shadowed buyers.

Professor Murray's Teaching & Experience in Kuwait
August 2019 | Kuwait, Maastricht School of Management

Teaching Professor of Retail and Academic Director of the Center for Retailing, Dr. Nancy Murray, was invited to teach an MBA course on Merchandise Planning in Kuwait this summer for Maastricht School of Management (MSM).  Students in the Master's of Business program at MSM choose a specialty of either International Business, International Business or Retail Management.  

Murray utilized this opportunity of being in the Middle East to learn more about the consumer and retailing landscape in Kuwait.  Kuwait is the fourth richest country in the world per capita and has the most valuable currency (Kuwaiti Dinar) which creates a very strong retailing climate there.   USA and European brand stores are quite prevalent however these are franchised because by law, a Kuwaiti must have at least 51% ownership of any business in Kuwait. However, only 30% of the population are actual Kuwaiti citizens.
Murray  found that unlike in the USA, malls are still very much thriving in Kuwait.  This is due to a couple of main factors:
1) Because of the intense heat in Kuwait, people enjoy going to the mall for a place to escape the heat and enjoy shopping, dining and entertainment  2) There is little online shopping competition because of underdeveloped shipping infrastructures.  

Store interiors were similar however assortments were different than what we would see in the USA for the same retailers.  
This was most apparent at apparel retailers, especially H& M.
  The majority of consumers in Kuwait are Muslims and dress conservatively.  Muslims represent a large and increasingly valuable market. In 2018, total Muslim spend on clothing and footwear reached an estimated $283 billion, according to the State of the Global Islamic Economy report. By 2024, it projects the figure will grow by 42% to $402 billion.  Nike recently announced their "Victory Swim" collection, a new line of modest swimwear including hijabs that is planned to release in February 2020 which reflects how the market is responding to this growing demand.

The course "The Global Consumer" offered by the School of Human Ecology and Consumer Science department prepares our students for these global shifts and opportunities.  

Target Design Consortium
August 2019 | Minneapolis, MN

Dr. Nancy Murray was invited to participate in Target's Design Consortium in August at their corporate headquarters in Minneapolis.  Murray summarized her experience as:
It was time well spent learning more about Target's Design and Product Development Process. Buyers were also incorporated into the itinerary who presented about how they build their line plan (assortment plan) and how they work with designers to achieve their ultimate assortments to be trend right and on mark-up plan.
Job shadows were new this year for the College Consortium. I shadowed one of my former students who is now the Lead Designer for RTW. I gained lots of great takeaways for my Product Development Strategies class (it was a great "teach the teacher" session)! 
My other job shadow was with an "Associate Scientist" who works in product development for Target's newly launched private label beauty products.  She was previously a Biochemistry major at UW and after working as a chemist for Avon, she earned her Master's in Marketing at University of Padova and then landed a job with Target.  
While in Minneapolis, I was also able to meet with our current interns at Target Corporate and connected with many UW Alumni at a Target networking event".

Minneapolis Industry Trip 
Fall 2019 | JL Buchanan, Brandless & Target

This past November, these Badgers had the opportunity to step into the diverse world of corporate retail on a multi-day trip in Minneapolis, Minnesota. JL Buchanan consulting, Brandless and Target all showcase different perspectives on career paths in the retail industry, and they offered our students corporate office tours, professional panels and career opportunities.

"Having the opportunity to attend the Minnesota trip with SRA was a wonderful experience. I was able to learn more behind the scenes of the retail industry and the different strategies companies use. It was also a great opportunity to network with people in the retail industry like Target, JLB and Brandless."
- Dalia Gutierrez, Junior - Retailing & Consumer Behavior

"Getting to attend the Minneapolis trip and any industry trip is such a great opportunity for us as retail students. Getting to speak with professionals from companies in Minneapolis like Target, JL Buchanan, and Brandless provided me with new insights on various opportunities for careers in the industry that I didn't even know existed! The trip allowed us as students to learn firsthand about the industry in ways that aren't as readily available in a typical classroom setting, as well as network with companies that we may be interested in working for after college!"
- Kayla Wirth, Sophomore - Retailing & Consumer Behavior

National Retail Federation 
UW-Madison Team Excels in Student Challenge Competition 

E ve ry fall UW-Madison Students with a passion for retail have the chance to compete in the NRF Student Challenge.  The NRF Foundation Student Challenge isn't your average business case competition. It puts you and your team in a boardroom in New York City, pitching your business ideas for an iconic brand to a room full of the biggest names in the retail business. Since its launch, the NRF Foundation Student Challenge has provided more than $100,000 in scholarship funds to students across the country, and priceless career opportunities.

The Student Challenge is sponsored by KPMG. In addition to hosting the final presentations in New York City, KPMG provides industry mentors that guide and support the teams throughout the Challenge, creating a unique opportunity for students to develop relationships and advance their professional development with top executives in the industry. 

The 2019 Challenge:

Akola is a growing, innovative jewelry brand employing women in crisis in Uganda and Dallas, Texas. Operating a vertical manufacturing model, each jewelry piece is handmade by a woman working to redesign her story, the future of her family and her community. Today, Akola offers employment and dependable, living wage work opportunities in raw material production, jewelry assembly and supply chain management roles. Akola's ability to create a product consumers love, while simultaneously creating social good, has unlocked tremendous potential for distribution. The key to Akola's success is creating the right product assortment for each retailer and their unique customers.  

Students acted as members of the product development team at Akola and were tasked to select a retailer, develop a jewelry line and create a pitch deck to present to buyers at their selected retailer. Teams of students nation-wide created a maximum 30-slide pitch presentation deck and 90-second video presentation to convince the company of why and how their Akola product line should be brought to market.

Four UW Madison Students have made it to the final round of the 2020 NRF Student Challenge Competition, and will be featured in New York at the NRF Annual Gala. Join us in cheering this team to victory in January! 

Danielle Talatian, Diana Xiong, Annie Brennan and Leah Levy will be attending the NRF Student Program on Scholarship in January. Our students have already won $1500 worth of travel stipend money and will be competing for further scholarship while attending the Student Program this January. This team will be presenting their case study live in front of judges in New York as they are competing against two other semifinalist teams for additional scholarship and awards. 

Dylan Kr avetz, Julien Zubkov, Max Lerman and Annie Plunkett  were a top eight semi-finalist team who participated in both competing rounds of the NRF Student Challenge. We are so thrilled to have had TWO semi-finalist teams representing UW-Madison in the Student Challenge this year!

Every year the Center enjoys advising teams entered in this competition, and we are so very proud of how innovative and hardworking this year's teams were. Stay tuned in the Spring to see how the UW Madison NRF Student Challenge Team places within the final rounds! 

To read more about the 2020 Prompt and NRF Student Challenge click  here. 

National Retail Federation Names Kohl's CEO Michelle Gass as The Visionary 2020.


The Kohl's Center for Retailing is thrilled to  Congratulate Michelle Gass, CEO of Kohl's Department Stores, on her award from the National Retail Federation as this year's Visionary Leader. This is a n award given each year to an outstanding leader in the retail industry. She will be honored in New York at the NRF conference, and w e will have a large contingent of Badgers in NY to celebrate her award. Our students look forward to hearing Michelle's vision for the industry at the NRF Student Conference!

Read more about Michelle and her award with the NRF here.

Jane Blain Gilbertson at the NRF Student Program
Center for Retailing Sponsor Company Leader Heads to NYC

Jane Blain Gilbertson, President and CEO of Blain's Farm and Fleet, will be presenting this year at the NRF Student show.  Farm and Fleet is a great partner and supporter of our Center and our students, and we are proud to support this Wisconsin company in New York this January. We are looking forward to cheering on Jane during her presentation.

Read more about the NRF Student Conference and Jane's feature  here.

Women in Leadership Event
Celebrating Women Leaders in the Consumer Space

Th is event, hosted by the School of Human Ecology and the Retail Symposium class, was an inspiring opportunity for students to hear from two powerful women, Jamie Cygielman (CEO of American Girl) and Connie Wald (VP of Marketing at Neiman Marcus) about their experiences in the retail industry and how they chose to lead and influence those around them. The panel was facilitated by faculty member Sarah Anne Carter, who asked both student and industry leader questions to bring about powerful conversations rooted in the topic of leadership and inspiration. The School of Human Ecology is proud to host this event each semester, featuring new Women in Leadership across the business landscape!

Retail Leadership Symposium
Fall Semester 2019
Thank you to the following companies for presenting in the Retail Leadership Symposium during the Fall 2019 semester. Your presence on campus and in the classroom benefit our program, and most importantly, our students and their futures in the retail industry! 

Lands End
Ellen Davis, President - NRF Foundation
Milwaukee Tool
Burlington Stores
Kwik Trip
Ulta Beauty
LaVelle Industries

Thank you again to all of the individuals and organizations. 
You are what makes our program great!

Design + Innovation

SoHE Helps Launch New Accelerated MS Program

SoHE is one of five schools and colleges at UW-Madison collaborating to offer a new, accelerated Masters of Science degree in Design + Innovation . The program answers a stated need from employers for better creative and problem-solving skills in job candidates and also builds on the top-notch resources of the university to craft a uniquely interactive student experience.

Michelle Kwasny , the program's academic director with an appointment  in SoHE's  Design Studies  department, says, "Students can come in and dabble in all five areas of study-engineering, business, design, data, and art-but they can also dig deeper in any one of those areas to complement experience they already have."
With enrollment open and the first cohort matriculating in May 2020, the 12-month, on-campus program is a joint effort of SoHE, the College of Engineering, the Wisconsin School of Business, the Art Department in the School of Education, and the iSchool in the College of Letters and Science.
"The School of Human Ecology is a natural partner on this degree," says SoHE Dean  Soyeon Shim . "For more than 100 years, we have worked across disciplines to collaboratively solve real-world problems and anticipate and get ahead of future ones, all with an aim and a track record of making life better in our communities. This accelerated master's degree is one more way we will do this work, and we are thrilled to lead on it."
Read more about how to get involved with this opportunity in the School of Human Ecology here.

The students involved with the Student Retail Association at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are at the forefront of industry, networking and engaging the local community. Students of all majors with a variety retail sector interest fuel this organization with over 100 active members. We are excited to offer our student members a wide breadth of industry trips, monthly meetings, information/networking sessions, community service, fundraising and social events in order to well-engage them with a wide range of companies and programs. Email sramadison1@gmail.com to setup a student info session or collaboration for our Minneapolis (November), Chicago (March), or NYC (January) Industry trips.
SRA Kickoff Fall 2019!
NRF Foundation President Ellen Davis visits UW-Madison and the Student Retail Association!
Our first social of the year featuring some new members!
Some SRA members giving back to the community through Cans for Critters donation initiative.

Connect with the Student Retail Association on our website to stay informed on the latest news and events. 


Kohl's Center for Retailing