Ken has over 25 years combined consulting and retail executive experience, working primarily with CEOs, other C‐level executives, Board Directors and private equity firms in the areas of strategy, brand delivery, marketing, merchandising, and business planning. His past clients include NIKE, Coach, and Victoria’s Secret.
Before founding Mōd, Ken was Vice President of Strategic Solutions at First Insight, a retail technology company. Previous to First Insight, he was co-founder and CEO of Black Dog Strategy Partners, Inc., an enterprise not unlike Mōd, focused on retail and fashion brands. Before that, Ken was a Vice President for Limited Brands, where he worked on brand management and long‐range planning for several of its retail business units. Ken’s other experience includes several years each at Price Waterhouse Coopers and Strategic Planning Associates, with consulting engagements in the retail, consumer packaged goods, real estate, government, media, telecommunications and petroleum industries.
Ken holds degrees from Yale College (BA) and The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania (MBA).
Design and Brand Strategy
A design and branding expert, Marie Rao has held a number of esteemed roles within the fashion industry and is looked to as a leading voice and influencer. She is currently Chief Executive Officer of MRao Design Consulting Group. Previously, she served as SVP and Chief Creative Officer, Women’s Private Brands for Hudson’s Bay Company, designing womenswear for two of North America’s most iconic department stores: Lord & Taylor and Hudson’s Bay. Prior to joining Hudson’s Bay Company in November 2012, she served as Chief Design Officer at New York & Company from 2007 to 2010. In between, she led her own branding and design consultant agency, MRao Designs LLC. From 1997 to 2006, as President of Limited Design Services, Marie led a think tank of 60 designers, working on special projects for the Chairman; in this role, she created Victoria’s Secret PINK and Body by Victoria for Victoria’s Secret. Marie also served as Executive Vice President of Design and President of Banana Republic, from 1993 to 1997, reporting to Mickey Drexler. In that role, she created the modern Banana Republic brand, transforming it from its safari roots.
Marketing and Brand Strategy
Kim is a strategic brand marketing leader with expertise in retail strategy consulting, technology and digital innovation, and hands-on brand marketing management. She has worked on key initiatives with Victoria’s Secret, Starbucks, Nordstrom, Kohl’s, Kroger, Abercrombie & Fitch, Ann Taylor, Nine West, Best Buy, and JCPenney. On the client side, Kim was VP of Brand Planning for the Victoria’s Secret Megabrand where she used fact-based analysis to formulate growth strategy, sub-brand architecture, and the operating roadmap for intimates. She was VP Brand Development for Retail Ventures (DSW, Value City, Filene’s Basement) and most recently was SVP Marketing at David’s Bridal where she helped drive a strategic repositioning of the brand. Kim has an MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Marketing and Ecommerce
A product of the Internet revolution, Jim began his career on the agency side, where he helped to launch digital marketing and web design services for Market.al. Inc., a full service agency. Jim’s most recent role was Senior Vice President of Direct and Chief Digital Officer for Things Remembered. He served as Senior Vice President of Marketing for Joanne Stores from 2014 to 2015 and Sr. Vice President of Marketing and Ecommerce at Express, Inc. from 2007 to 2013.
Over the past 23 years, he has served in Marketing and Ecommerce leadership roles for such companies as Express, JoAnn’s Stores, Things Remembered, Camelot Music, Cole National, American Greetings, America Online and Limited Brands. Jim has been responsible launch of several major Ecommerce businesses, the development of award winning marketing and loyalty programs and led several major customer data initiatives.
Nicole owns the internal communications firm, Frank. Frank’s key offerings are strategic planning, training curricula, learning tools and seminars focused on improving the retail customer experience. Recent clients include Coach, Stuart Weitzman, Macy’s and Charlotte Russe. Before Frank, Nicole was a Brand Architect for B3 & Co., defining communications strategies for clients like Liz Claiborne, AnnTaylor and Ikea. Prior to B3, Nicole was VP of Marketing for Calvin Klein and cK, and also held executive marketing positions at Donna Karan, Nine West and BCBG Max Azria.
Patti Schnably Shields
Patti has a broad range of leadership roles across department store, specialty, fast-fashion and designer retail and spanning merchandise divisions (men’s, women’s, kids, baby, accessories). Her functional experience includes buying, merchandising, planning, allocation, visual, trend, sourcing, ecommerce, stores and product development. Patti’s career includes increasingly senior merchant roles at Macy’s, Gap/Gap Body, Victoria’s Secret, and running a $1 billion division at Old Navy, before becoming GMM at Charlotte Russe and EVP of Retail for St. John Knits. Patti began consulting in 2008 and continues to work in with retail, private equity, and manufacturing companies assisting in due diligence, trend forecasting, market research, and retail operations.
With her strong intuitive merchant skills, decisive leadership style, and commitment as a brand champion, Sandra Smith-Fitzgerald is a true retail leader. She has a proven track record of successfully driving and building businesses throughout her career, and demonstrates a strong understanding of cross channel retailing. As a strategic visionary, Sandra blends business acumen with creativity, while delivering flawless execution in an ever changing business environment.
Most recently, Sandra held the position of Senior Vice President/GMM of Merchandising, Planning and Allocation at J. Jill. Prior to that, she has worked for La Senza, a division of L Brands, Coldwater Creek and Express.
Jim is a recognized leader in Performance Marketing, with deep experience leveraging CRM, Loyalty, Mobile, & Digital marketing. Throughout his career, Jim has helped multiple brands implement customer strategies that delivered engaging customer experiences. Over the years, these innovative programs and strategies have profitably generated billions in sales, been recognized the industry and featured in publications such as the Wall Street Journal and USA Today.
Jim has also helped multiple brands adopt omni-channel marketing capabilities and has led the successful implementation of two single-view of the customer systems. Most recently, Jim was Head of Performance Marketing for American Eagle Outfitters, where he helped drive the omni-channel initiative, launched single-view of the customer, transformed digital marketing, and re-launched a mobile program capable of driving 60% customer engagement. Additionally, Jim spent 15 years the Limited Brands family of brands where he successfully implemented this approach at Victoria’s Secret and Express, among others.
Founder and CEO of Asset Strategies Group (ASG), Steve has worked with over 60 fashion specialty retailers on all aspects of their real estate supply chain. Prior to founding ASG, Steve was CFO and CAO of Limited Brands’ Real Estate and Store Design and Construction shared service organization and responsible for a $1 billion annual occupancy expense budget and over $300 million in annual capital spending. A Harvard MBA, he has more than 25 years experience working in department store, big box and specialty store retail organizations.
Separately or partnered with Mōd, ASG offers consulting and business solutions that impact each portion of the real estate supply chain, from market research and analytics, to tenant representation, store design and construction, and lease administration/rent accounting. ASG’s strategy work includes customer, trade area and performance analytics, market optimization, sales modeling and ASGportfolio, an annual asset management/portfolio review process ASG manages for a number of leading specialty retailers.
Strategy, Business Advisory, Consumer Research
Rob Gallo has more than 18 years of experience as a trusted strategist driving real business results for the world’s biggest brands. During his career he has been involved in a wide range of strategy engagements. Rob also has significant experience with primary consumer research.
For retailers, Rob’s work includes customer, brand and marketing strategy as well as extensive primary research. For suppliers, Rob has focused on category leadership, go-to-market strategy and market entry engagements. For several private equity firms, Rob has performed due diligence analysis to assess the investment potential of specific companies, retail sectors and business models.
Some of Rob’s clients include 7-Eleven, Belk, Bloomingdale’s, Coca-Cola, Diageo, Hewlett Packard, The Home Depot, L Brands, Macy’s, Sam’s Club, Sunoco, Tyson Foods and Walmart.
Rob is an active member on advisory boards and has held senior positions at Impact 21, Chute Gerdeman, Kantar Retail, Retail Forward and the Management Horizons Division of Price Waterhouse.
Brand Delivery: In-Store Experience
Jennifer is an accomplished senior retail executive with over 20 years’ experience building powerful, emotional, industry-leading specialty brands. Her expertise ranges across Brand Building, Storytelling, Visual Merchandising, Communications, Digital Solutions, Training & Development, Operations and Execution.
Jennifer spent 11+ years at L Brands’ Victoria’s Secret Stores, in both corporate and field senior leadership Visual Merchandising roles: SVP, VP and AVP. Most recently, she was the acting EVP, Visual Merchandising & Creative (Lingerie/Beauty) and Brand Delivery and Execution for the Victoria’s Secret Mega-Brand. Jennifer led a team of 96 and was accountable for delivering brand-enhancing presentations and a differentiated, profit driving in-store experience.
Prior to joining Victoria’s Secret, Jennifer held various leadership positions at Ann Taylor, including the National Field Visual Merchandising Team and corporate Visual Merchandising roles.