Alexandra Wilkis Wilson
Founder and CMO, Gilt Groupe
Posted on: February 1, 2012 | Go to profile
Believing that every day is an opportunity to inspire and be inspired, Alexandra channeled the effectiveness and excitement of samples sales to revolutionize the landscape of luxury e-commerce through industry-leading Gilt Groupe. Through Gilt.com Alexandra gives fashionable women access to a world of gorgeous merchandise at steeply discounted prices. After over a decade in international fashion and retail experience, Alexandra has brought together over two million fashionable individuals on Gilt.com and Gilt’s Japanese platform, Gilt.jp.
Q: Please share with us the story of how your professional journey began and has brought you to where you are today.
A: When I graduated from college, I went into finance. I was an investment banking analyst for three years at Merrill Lynch, initially in New York and then for two years in London. It was a great professional experience, but during those years I discovered very quickly that I didn’t want to stay in investment banking. I went to pursue my MBA with the intention of switching my career and moving into the fashion industry, on the business side. After graduate school, I went to work for Louis Vuitton in their management-in-training program, spending a year in the stores and then moving into the corporate office, in charge of Sales Planning for the US. I subsequently moved to Bulgari where I was responsible for Retail Operations for their North American store. It was while I was at Bulgari that my dear friend Alexis Maybank and I started discussing the concept of what is today known as Gilt Groupe. I left Bulgari in September 2007, we launched Gilt Groupe that November, and I have never looked back. Gilt Groupe has been a life-changing professional experience for me. I continue to be challenged and inspired every day by our members, brand partners and co-workers.
Q: If a business has several, viable ways to grow and innovate, how do you pick the best road to take?
A: It’s hard to always know the best road to take, and it is possible for people and companies to make mistakes along the way, but it is important to take into account your existing customer base, your core competencies as a company, competitors, scalability, speed to market, and if there is an unfulfilled need that your innovation could solve.
Q: Do you (formally or informally) mentor anyone? If so, who and why is it rewarding?
A: I love mentoring people and I take time out of my already jam-packed schedule to spend time with entrepreneurs. It is my way of giving back and repaying the many kind people who over the years have taken time out of their busy lives to give me advice. Mentoring others is important to me. I am an official mentor for Tech Stars, I am an unofficial mentor to many entrepreneurs and I have been involved in NFTE.
ON Time Management
Q: How do your prioritize your time?
A: Fortunately I have always been a very organized person and have been good at prioritizing my time. I put all of my “to-do” items directly into my calendar so that I make sure they all get done and I don’t forget anything. My blackberry helps me to stay on top of everything from email to meetings to birthdays to what time it is!
ON Giving Back
Q: What cause(s) have you chosen to support and why does it resonate with you?
A: I am involved in a number of causes that support women, education, children and/or entrepreneurship. I am on the Worldwide Board of Directors for Dress for Success. Right now I would say this is my number one cause. I think it is a very special organization helping to empower women in need, helping give them the much-needed support to get into the workforce.
Q: How do you balance career and motherhood?
A: I try to keep an overall balance between my many professional commitments, time with my family, friends and my extracurriculars such as non-profit involvement, exercise etc. There is no perfect balance from day to day, so I look for an overall feeling of balance, like a weighted average. I love my job and my career more than I could have ever imagined loving work, but when push comes to shove, my family will always come first, especially now that I am a mother.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Classic with a touch of spice. I have always liked bright colors. Maybe that’s a reflection of my half-Cuban roots!?
Q: What’s your best buy ever?
A: I have bought so many amazing items on Gilt over the past 4 years. The best buy would probably be a Valentino suede coat that retailed for over $10,000 and I got it for Gilt in a Final Sale for $500. Wow!
Q: What are the beauty items you could not live without?
A: I am on a major Bobbi Brown beauty kick these days. I especially love her makeup brushes and eye shadows. Bobbi Brown has totally changed and revamped my morning makeup routine! Thank you Bobbi!