By Rachel Gross Weinstein
When Karen Katz took over as president and CEO of the Neiman Marcus Group in 2010, the country was coming off the recession, which hit the fashion industry hard. But her business style of building relationships with colleagues, vendors and customers and having open communication, has allowed the company to grow in the past two years.
Katz believes shopping has become more emotional for people since the recession. Although the industry is doing well now, she said, people have changed their mindsets in terms of what they buy.
“Our customer will pay at the top dollar for a handbag or dress, but there needs to be an intrinsic value to the product,” she said. “I believe customers today are reviewing all of their options and want to make sure that if they are paying top dollar for something, they will get great value out of it.”
Neiman Marcus has a long Jewish legacy in Dallas. Herbert Marcus and his sister, Carrie Marcus Neiman — part of a family that helped found Temple Emanu-El — established the first Neiman Marcus store in 1907 in Dallas. Stanley Marcus, Herbert’s son, took over the company in 1950 after his father’s death and held the position until 1972, after which he was chairman of the board for four years. “Mr. Stanley” remained a renowned figure in the Dallas area until his death in 2002.
The family built the company on the foundation of three key things: presenting a beautiful product, developing relationships and giving back to the community, Katz said, knowing that Stanley Marcus was a philanthropist and a patron of the arts. It’s those key ideas that will continue to make Neiman Marcus thrive, she added.
“I am a big believer in the value of relationships,” Katz said. “I never take those for granted and those are critically important to how we run the business. If you are going to be a best-in-class retailer today, you need to build those relationships and give people a personalized experience. That’s what it important.”
And being a face in the community also is vital, Katz said. She and Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director for Neiman Marcus stores, will be the guest speakers at the Dec. 11 YES! Event, which will benefit The Legacy at Preston Hollow, the Dallas Home for the Jewish Aged.
Katz and Downing will share an inside view of the world of fashion and will reveal the latest fashion news in apparel, shoes and accessories for 2013.
“We want to give everyone insight about the business and how we bring items we see on the runway and translate those trends to the customers we serve,” Katz said. “We will talk about fashion as a business and the business of fashion.”
The business aspect is what really drives Katz to succeed. She has been with Neiman Marcus for 27 years and, before assuming her current role, she ran the Internet department and was president of the retail stores division.
Running a strong business, while also providing customers with an extraordinary shopping experience is her ultimate goal, Katz said.
“I love the fashion industry, but what’s even more intriguing to me is the business of fashion,” she said. “It’s very dynamic and ever changing and each season brings new challenges and opportunities. One part of the business is glamorous, and the other part is translating new products for our customers. Staying focused on our goals of building relationships and giving customers memorable experiences is what I love. It’s very exciting.”
YES! Event aids Legacy-Preston Hollow
The YES! Event, with the theme “The Art of Fashion: A View From the Front Row and Beyond,” will begin at noon Tuesday, Dec. 11 at the Omni Dallas Hotel, 555 S. Lamar St., in Dallas.
Karen Katz and Ken Downing from Neiman Marcus will be the keynote speakers.
Individual tickets are $150 each, and that price includes lunch; sponsorships are available. All money raised at the event will benefit the Legacy at Preston Hollow, the Dallas Home for the Jewish Aged.
For information and to purchase tickets, call 214-363-5100 or visit www.thelegacywb.org/Preston-Hollow/theyesevent.