Macy’s Forms Minority Program

The fashion world, while some experts say is opening up to minorities, is still relatively closed to minorities on the ownership side. But now one of the country’s largest retailers, Macy’s, has announced the creation of The Workshop at Macy’s. It is designed to develop the next generation of minority and women-owned retail talent.

“The Workshop at Macy’s is the evolution of our minority- and women-owned vendor strategy. This strategy aims to bring fresh and exciting products to our stores that speak to our varied clientele,” says company spokesperson Melissa Goff. “Through the course of our work over the years, we have learned that some of these vendors struggle to grow their businesses and take them to the next level because they lack knowledge and real world experience working with a large national retailer such as Macy’s. From merchandising to marketing classes, the Workshop will give the selected participants the tools and knowledge that they need to achieve long-term success.”

The Workshop will work with?minority- and women-owned retail businesses that are growing yet?need additional resources to move to the next level. In all, it will be a four-and-a-half day intensive training course, to be held in May 2011 at Macy’s Herald Square offices in New York City. It will be taught by Macy’s executives and industry experts as well as key retail partners.

Planned as an annual program, Macy’s says it hopes to create a “pipeline of viable vendors that will grow to become successful partners within Macy’s own vendor community.”

“The response has been tremendous,” says Goff. “We had more than 900 applicants nationwide and are culling those down to select an inaugural class of 20. We are all looking forward to kicking off the courses in May and seeing in the near future how this information will impact the participants.”

Among the planned sessions are: Strategic Planning, Merchandising and Assortment Planning, Branding, Sales and Marketing, and Access to Capital. Designed by a consortium of experts from Macy’s Learning & Development, Macy’s Multicultural Merchandising and Vendor Development, Babson College,?and with select Macy’s merchants/vendors, the curriculum aims at covering all the problems new retailers have. ?To promote program, Macy’s some key minority vendors, such as?Lisa Price, founder of Carol’s Daughter (an African-American owned company), who will be one of the program’s expert panelists. “??The program?will start May 9. ?