Everything in life comes with a cost, but the exclusive and highly selective vendor retail development program, the Workshop at Macy’s, won’t cost you a dime. You may, however, have to pull an all-nighter—or two— to reap the benefits. Each year, thousands of applications are submitted, but only a few make the cut and are selected to participate in the program, which focuses on developing and equipping women and minority business owners with retail and business savvy. Appropriately titled ” The Workshop at Macy’s,” the program lasts for a period of four days in which candidates will learn and be tested on everything from retail math to the art of the pitch, while learning how to build and execute an effective business strategy.
According to a Black Enterprise article, “The idea of the program is to build a pipeline for new entrepreneurs and resources that can benefit the entire industry. Helping companies acquire the tools and skills necessary to scale and really be sustainable in the industry.”
Now in its sixth year, the Workshop has graduated five classes of successful entrepreneurs who have done the grunt work of building a retail business that shows true potential. Ideal candidates have businesses that sell “unique products that will be assets to us [Macy’s] and our customers will benefit from,” states Senior Vice President of Multicultural Business Development, Shawn Outler.
Graduates of the program include Melissa Butler, owner and founder of the coveted cosmetic business The Lip Bar; Crystal Streets, famed jewelry designer whose gorgeous pieces can be purchased in mass retailers as well as on HSN; and fashion protégé, LaQuan Smith, whose pieces have been worn by everyone from Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj to the Kardashian clan.
The four-day workshop begins by teaching candidates the basics—the fundamental building blocks of growing and maintaining a successful business and developing relationships and partnerships with large retailers such as Macy’s. The remaining days are dedicated to teaching candidates brand development, marketing and consumer metrics, retail math and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). Graduates of the program will understand the fundamentals of cultivating a successful business, and will leave with the knowledge of how to properly assess their client base to determine their needs and better strategize to maximize their resources. They will also have a firm understanding of their company’s growth and financial potential, and will know how to talk to buyers to cultivate and nurture merchant partnerships.
While the program does not guarantee product placement in Macy’s stores, some graduates such as Urban Intimates founder, Psyche Terry, have found successful placement and are now sold in JC Penny’s and 10 Macy’s stores nationwide. Other graduates such as LaQuan Smith have substantially grown their following, exposure, and their business; Smith shows bi-annually at fashion week and has become a favorite amongst celebrities.
With the continued effort to foster growth in the next generation of minority-and-women owned merchandise, Macy’s has passed the bilion dollar mark for the first time, having accrued an estimate of $1.1 billion in company purchases from minority and women owned businesses, some of which include partnerships with previous 70+ graduates.
Could you be the next retail superstar? Apply and find out! Are you a female or minority business owner, looking to catapult your business into success by gaining the tools and knowledge necessary to compete in a global retail economy? The Workshop at Macy’s is accepting applications for their 6th class of retail entrepreneurs. The program is completely free; you need only apply. Applications are due by 11:58 p.m. EST on January 31st, 2016.
For more information about the Workshop at Macy’s refer to their website.