Characteristics of Business Leadership
Vera Wang is the owner and CEO of a multimillion-dollar business which is highly recognizable all over nowadays. The main reason for her considerable success is her natural talent and flair to fill a niche with her innovative and valuable ideas about elegant bridal wear. Although she has had no formal training as a designer, Wang possesses an impressive background. She studied history of art, worked as a fashion editor at Vogue magazine for sixteen years and also as a design director for fashion house, Ralph Lauren. All this experience has influenced the development of her business to a considerable degree.
Beginning of Vera Wang Business
It all began in 1989, when thirty-nine-year-old Vera Wang was searching a wedding dress, which differed from those frilly and girlish dresses, which reminded of the female figure that often sits on the top of a wedding cake. Finding this style inappropriate for a woman of her age, she ended up designing her own, modern and sophisticated wedding dress. With more than fifteen years of experience in the fashion industry, Wang knew exactly what she wanted; thus, she hired a seamstress to sew her dress in accordance with her design. It then occurred to her to start her own business in this sphere. Wang realized that there was a growing demand for more sophisticated and elegant wedding gowns (Krohn, 2009).
Borrowing four million dollars from her father, Wang rented a two-story shop space in the upscale Carlyle Hotel to open her first boutique in Manhattan. In September 1990, she opened Vera Wang Bridal House Ltd (Leading American Businesses, 2003).
Wang was practical as she decided to focus on selling wedding dresses by various popular designers whom she admired, including Carolina Herrera, Christian Dior, Pat Kerr, and Helen Benton. Nevertheless, she did plan to design her own bridal wear, and within months, Wang was selling her own, unique haute couture designs.
Wang’s fame increased quickly, and rather soon her one-of-a-kind formal gowns brought her popularity among celebrities and upper-class socialites. Vera Wang became the foremost designer of wedding dresses in the world (Krohn, 2009).
Nowadays, Wang’s evening wear and sportswear collections are also popular, as is her ready-to-wear clothing. She designs personal and household items, as well. These products range from champagne glasses, fine stationery, fragrances to candles, bedding, and collectible Barbie dolls. Her products are being sold all over the world.
The most formidable challenge that Vera Wang faced was a discovery that running her own shop was not easy. At first, business developed very slowly. Later, Wang admitted she picked a wrong time to start her business. It was four days before the Gulf War and right before the economic recession (Krohn, 2009).
Even when her store started to thrive, Wang still had not made a profit and remained deeply in debt from starting up the boutique. Nevertheless, Wang did not give up and kept being patient giving her business time to grow.
Another challenge concerns the actual opening of the store, as well as making the targeted public aware of its existence. The initial marketing strategy was based on an advertisement published by Vogue. Wang’s former colleagues supported her initiative and wrote a six-page article that praised her business. Therefore, news of Vera Wang Bridal House travelled fast.
The business did well partly because it was unique. She not only offered her customers a wide selection of unusual, well-made bridal gowns, but she also provided them with a valuable consulting service.
The final challenge was a growing demand on her dresses. The necessity has arisen to deliver unique and inimitable designs more often than she expected at first. This has caused a reduction in time spent on analyzing the probable success of certain fashion lines which in its turn affects the quality of sales.
Vera Wang: Personal Profile
Wang demonstrates the characteristics of a quiet leadership as she serves as a mentor for future designers that meet with obstacles as they pursue their goals. Her leadership style allows coping with challenges that arise in an effective manner.
Being an authoritative and charismatic leader, Vera Wang highly values each member of her team. Executives, who work for her, assist her in making these decisions.
During special design meeting, a thorough discussion takes place. It involves a review of a new product, peculiarities of its release, evaluation of the marketing strategy of the company, analysis of a probable market expansion.
Within the company, a decision-making is a serious process which involves participation of employees who are being influenced directly. Therefore, Vera Wang illustrates a participative leadership style, where important decisions, such as which pieces will be featured in each retail season, are made as a group.
According to the official site (Vera Wang, n.d.), Vera Wang collaborates with leading global partners, directly employs more than 200 people and manufactures the majority of its bridal collection in company-owned workrooms, in the United States.
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Taking into account that the methods of achieving business success vary around the world, Vera Wang made a decision not to rush with market expansion. The pivotal part of maintaining an effective business lies in guaranteeing the brand identity, exclusiveness of the service that is being provided and, of course, customer’s satisfaction. Only after achieving these crucial components, Vera Wang has developed a strategy of market expansion and entering into the Asian and European markets. In order to provide clients with the best service, she contributes towards differentiation of a pricing policy based on the country’s economy. Therefore, it takes careful planning and maintenance in order to operate the business effectively in global markets (Smith, 2010).
Vera Wang considers her employees a pivotal part of the company. The participation in the abovementioned discussions is highly encouraged. Everyone within the company can introduce new, fresh and innovative ideas. Such cooperation creates a sense of ownership and stimulates the improvement of the common work conditions.
The essential part about these encouragements is that they are not based on a verbal praise of the subordinate’s achievements only. In addition, a highly competitive salary is being offered, alongside with the premium pay and paid trainings.
The methods for motivating Wang’s staff also rely on flexible work schedule and a generous wellness package which consists of health, vision dental and life insurance.
The overall success of Vera Wang is based on several factors that make her business one of the most recognizable and called-for. The efficient branding strategy still guaranties the customer’s demand. By specializing on delivering unique, sophisticated and chic designs, Wang created a stable reputation for the company that stands out by providing a high class service for its clients (Carmichael, n.d.).
Vera Wang has gone a long way before creating her first boutique. Nevertheless, each experience shaped her as a perspective and a strong leader. Throughout her career, there was always something to be learned, and someone to be taught by, as an example. Wang’s mentors have contributed to her expertise in fashion as well as her perception of business leadership.
Nonetheless, it is not enough to possess ambitious ideas in order to maintain business effectively. The most important part is to be dedicated to its continuous implementation. Wang was criticized vastly for using her parent’s material support, but she chose to ignore these malicious attacks and struggle further to prove them wrong. Looking now at Vera Wang’s bridal empire, it is obvious to notice that her decision-making evolved in a right direction.
Vera Wang has made a significant impact on the bridal market and fashion industry, on the whole. Her exclusive and sophisticated gowns have changed the perception of a wedding dress.
Wang’s success key lies in placing a high emphasis on personal relationships and connection. She knows how to listen to both her employees and customers.
Creating a top echelon service is not the only distinctive feature of Vera Wang’s business. Since the beginning, she has demonstrated her preoccupation with acute social problems in the world. Wang contributes to solving these problems by organizing various events that serve the purpose of fund raising. Thus, her sense of social responsibility alongside with her vision and perception of the world make her a generous philanthropist who makes the world a better place not only through the beauty of her creations but of her deeds, as well.
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