Andrea Wasserman, previously the national bridal director at Nordstrom Inc., has been named chief executive officer of the Los Angeles-based online footwear specialist. Wasserman, who is moving to L.A. from Seattle for the ceo post and will join Sole Society’s board, steps into a role that Brett Markinson, founder and chairman of Sole Society, held for the past year.
Markinson said, “Andrea is a dedicated and accomplished professional who possesses strong leadership skills and tactical retail expertise that will be a huge asset in growing the Sole Society brand.” Prior to starting with Nordstrom in 2007, Wasserman, a New York native, held retail finance and consulting positions at Merrill Lynch and Telsey Advisory Group.
Flash-sale Web site HauteLook, which was acquired by Nordstrom in 2011, created Sole Society in March 2011, and Sole Society became a separate, independent company in December of that year. Sole Society has received funding from Nordstrom, Insight Venture Partners and Lagovent Ventures, and its footwear entered select Nordstrom doors last year. Vince Camuto is Sole Society’s manufacturing partner.
Wasserman’s connection to Nordstrom, where she enlarged the bridal division’s footprint from 18 to 46 doors and spearheaded the digital strategy for nordstromwedding.com and the Nordstrom Wedding Suite Blog, is going to be critical to expanding Sole Society’s business at the department store. In addition to Nordstrom, Wasserman suggested Sole Society would consider selling its merchandise to other retailers.
“There is nothing that is off the table right now,” said Wasserman, continuing, “Sole Society is in a really strong position. It’s only year two having been spun out of HauteLook after Nordstrom completed that acquisition. It is exactly where it should be at this stage of the game, and now our opportunity is to strengthen and amplify that, and take it to the next level and make sure that all of the customers who are looking for this kind of product know that we are here.”
Raising consumer awareness of Sole Society is a top priority for Wasserman. Sole Society television commercials have just begun airing to do so, and the company will be leveraging its relationship with dancer, singer and actress Julianne Hough, who is set to do personal appearances for Sole Society in the fall. Wasserman also noted Sole Society is trying to grow its digital community.
“We have customers engaging with us in reviews and on social networks, and I think there is an opportunity to build more of a word-of-mouth business once women get addicted to our shoes,” she said.
Sole Society has extended beyond footwear to jewelry, sunglasses, hats, scarves and handbags, which recently launched on nordstrom.com. Sole Society’s shoes are priced from $49.95 to $119.95; handbags are $39.95 to $149.95, and jewelry, sunglasses, hats and scarves are $19.95 to $59.95. Further category extensions are certainly possible. “Increasingly, you will see us being a full fashion accessories brand, not just a footwear one,” said Wasserman.
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