Fashion industry strategist
Stephanie Horton, '89
Stephanie Horton, '89, likes to say she blows where the wind takes her. From the Middle East to Russia, China, and South America, her career at the intersection of fashion and technology has certainly been global.
"My job is very international and I cross a lot of borders," says Ms. Horton. A lifer at Lab, she benefited from foreign language instruction at an early age, and now speaks French, Spanish, and Italian.
As chief strategy officer at fashion brand Alexander Wang, she is responsible for creating a long-term pipeline of revenue, and crafting a plan for the company's future growth and ambitions. Tapping tech's potential, rather than being left behind by it, is her challenge.
"We jumped from a very analog-based society to a digital one really quickly. It almost happened overnight," she says. "Suddenly everything was social media and a smartphone. Industries need to use it, and not be beat by it." Sony and Epic once ruled the music arena, she noted, but now it's Apple's and Amazon's world. How can fashion fare better than these former giants of other industries?
"We need to tailor technology solutions to partner brands, humanizing the retail experience," she says of her work improving luxury shopping both on and offline. "This would deliver personalization to customers while empowering store staff."
Ms. Horton wants to make sure people don't get left behind, either. Recently she cofounded Fashion Tech Connects, a nonprofit devoted to helping women of color rise through the ranks in fashion and tech.
"I've noticed a big underrepresentation of women and minorities in the tech industry, as well as at the top of the fashion industry," says Ms. Horton. "Why not use my contacts to help people gain entry and access to a closed industry that's hard to penetrate?"
They contacted about 20 universities with the news they'd be able to provide internships across five leading companies. So far, they've given six young women opportunities to work in fields including software engineering, ecommerce, marketing, and communication. News quickly spread: they've even been contacted by Facebook and Instagram, who are interested in working with them to provide internships to their pool of applicants.
"I want to reach back and make a difference. Being able to help other people get to this point in their career is a new and important part of what I'd like to do," she says.
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