LEARN HOW TO LEAD FROM THIS FASHION BOSS - INTRODUCING VANESSA LEFEBVRE
VANESSA LEFEBVRE: FASHION BOSS
We got our female president, Ladies!! Meet Vanessa LeFebvre. She is the newly appointed chief of staff at Lord & Taylor. A brand that has been around for decades, and one I grew up coveting. It has been such a true pleasure moonlighting as L & T’s first resident style expert - and one of the main reasons why: this woman. She’s crazy intelligent, dead set on empowering other women, and relentless in her pursuit of success for the entire company. An inspirational woman who is a living breathing example of corporate queen, mom, and badass citizen. Enjoy!
Vanessa. So happy to talk with you! You’re in a significant power position running Lord & Taylor. Why do you think women make great leaders?
Thank you. I am blessed to have worked with many women leaders, and have been inspired by the shapes and sizes of their strengths. Women have the ability to adapt and take on many different roles and characters while leading. You can be a mom one minute, then a mentor, a friend, the boss, the next, and so on – serving as change agents that are resilient and motivated to succeed.
As the newly appointed president - what is your vision for the company in this shifting time for department stores? What do you want your customer to know?
I am focused on building a more meaningful connection with our customers and working towards a sustainable future for Lord & Taylor. My leadership team and I are focused on better serving customers in our local markets – we’re creating personalized assortments in each community that meet their needs.
As a young woman was fashion important to you?
Fashion has always been a part of my life, in fact my first job out of school was with Lord & Taylor, so being in the role I’m in now is really a homecoming. But my love of fashion, started much earlier. Watching my mom get dressed and being in awe of her as she played with clothing and jewelry to find the right look. So to me, fashion isn't just a means of expression, it's a feeling, something personal. It's a dress that makes me feel strong, or a lipstick that makes me happy, a shoe that makes me feel powerful... I love the idea of helping women find that connection.
As a boss, what would your employees say is your best characteristic?
My ability to be open-minded and challenged. I encourage my team at Lord & Taylor to take ownership in their roles; to offer out-of-the-box ideas and new ways of doing things that will best serve our customer, and to challenge me when I’m wrong.
You’ve got to balance a high-profile demanding job with a husband and children. How do you create a balance?
It's about balance and discipline. I dedicate separate time for each of my roles. When I’m with my family, I unplug from work to make sure I’m present. When I’m at the office, I use my time wisely, making sure to focus on connecting with teams, our customers and tackling the projects of the day.
How does your husband’s support - especially at home - allow you to do your job outside of the home better?
My husband is my rock. He's the foundation that allows me to build. He is very supportive of my job. His dedication to our family allows me to focus on my work when I’m not at home and on our family when I am home.
What fuels you to get up each day?
Passion - If you don’t have passion for what you do, don’t do it.
For women who want to climb the executive ladder - I mean, you’ve actually got a seat at the table - what advice would you give them to progress rapidly in their careers? To break the glass ceilings? What will serve them most?
Lean into your strengths and work on your opportunities, because growth and comfort do not always go hand in hand. Also, don’t be afraid to take risks. Getting to the next level comes when you’re willing to step out of your comfort zone.
You’ve partnered with me as your first resident style expert. Tell everyone why this collaboration was a good idea and how female empowerment is a consistent virtue for L&T?
It's a real story. You are a real woman who tackled a real challenge. As a woman who used her voice to stand up for women everywhere, our partnership with you was a natural evolution and one we’ve found to be inspiring to our customers. Empowering women is something we’re committed to at Lord & Taylor and it stems from our history; we were the first major retailer with a female President. Our collaboration is about more than style curation. It provides fellow women, fellow mothers, with inspiration for shopping and their daily lives.
What has been the greatest takeaway from your experiences working with and collaborating with women?
I’ve learned so much from working and collaborating with other women. Encourage and empower other females around you. When women stand together and support one another, the potential and possibilities are endless.
Person you’d want to trade brains with for a day?
First thing you do when you open your eyes in the morning?
Hug my husband.
Describe yourself in three words.
Strong. Resilient. Passionate.
Tequila or vodka?
Online shop or brick and mortar?
Bricks for fashion. Clicks for all else.
Instagram or Twitter?
Nude lip or red lip?
Favorite brand right now?
Lord & Taylor.
See it. Believe it. Make it happen.
Mommy philosophy you live by?
Don't feel guilty, just do better.