Billionaire chief executive officer Tony Hsieh loves using C-words — for clothing, customer service and company culture, that is.The ceo of Las Vegas-based Zappos Inc. kicked off the inaugural WWD Fashion Forum on Sunday in Downtown Las Vegas at The Venue, a hip new place across from one of his highly publicized redevelopment projects called Container Park.Hsieh, who sold his company to Amazon.com for more than $1 billion in 2009, spoke about evolving Zappos into more than just a Nevada success story.“A great brand is a story that never stops unfolding,” he said. “But we wanted to evolve our brand at Zappos, so we added a fourth ‘C’: community.”With that in mind, four years ago Hsieh and other executives turned their attention — and personal fortunes — toward investing $350 million into downtown Las Vegas.The goal was to reshape the dusty, downtrodden part of Sin City. He dreamed of it becoming a residential area, one with so-called “serendipitous collisions.” It would be home to thriving small businesses, apartments buildings, art exhibits and anything that doesn’t resemble the gaming part of the city.To start, the executives moved Zappos and its 1,500 employees into new headquarters at the former City Hall building. Hsieh’s investment consortium also bought nearby land and buildings for future developments.He also restructured the way the company runs. Hsieh, who lets business leaders tour Zappos for ideas on creating a varied corporate culture, said the e-tailer operates more like a city and “a lot less like a top-down driven organization.”So far, he said, the master real estate project is working, though not without its share of challenges. (Las Vegas has struggled with high rates of unemployment, mortgage foreclosures and hotel bankruptcies. It also has one of the country’s most transient populations.) The city’s downtown, he said, has created hundreds of new small businesses, such as a hotel chef who opened her own eatery and a former Zappos employee who now sells his own barbecue sauce.To prove his point further, Hsieh listed other culturally driven examples such as the Life Is Beautiful event, a three-day festival of music and food that attracts more than 30,000 people every fall. Launched three years ago, it now hosts major headliners. The next event, held Sept. 25-27, will feature Stevie Wonder, Hozier, Snoop Dogg, Duran Duran and Kendrick Lamar, to name a few.“As a business, we needed to be integrated with the community around us,” said Hsieh. “Instead of focusing on us, we encouraged our employees to go out and interact with the community.”For Hsieh, it’s a personal juggling act. He splits his time evenly between both Zappos and the Downtown Project initiative.He said the effort to improve downtown is important because more than half of the human population currently lives in a city. In the future that figure will jump to 75 percent, he said.“What we think we are doing is far bigger than downtown Las Vegas,” Hsieh said.The ultimate goal (and tagline), he said, is to make downtown Las Vegas a place where people will become smarter.
@juicebeauty, where @gwynethpaltrow holds the title of creative director of makeup, has become one of the foremost labels in the organic beauty category –– with sales on track to hit $100 million this year. What’s behind the rapid growth the brand is experiencing right now? It all started in 2005 when the wellness movement was just getting started. Read more on WWD.com. #wwdbeauty
Stay up to do date with breaking news and trending stories with WWD’s “The Essentialist.” Our newsletter delivers the top news in fashion right to your inbox. Want more info? Link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
"I want to tell a story that inspires people to feel good about themselves, but also I'm making a commentary about the lack of female stories and female directors and saying this should change," said @imheathergraham on her latest project "Half Magic." The comedy feature, which the actress wrote and directed, is based on her own struggles as a woman in show business. Read @andrewnodell's full interview with Graham on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @jgreenery)
@meltcosmetics cofounders @lora_arellano and @danabomar built their brand on a single idea: a true matte lipstick. To set the brand apart, they said they always put their customers first –– including a personalized note in each package. #wwdsummits #wwdbeauty
@moncler unveiled its latest project, #MonclerGenius, yesterday at Milan Fashion Week. The Italian outwear maker gave show-goers a preview of the monthly collections – which were created by eight designers and creative talents including Pierpaolo Piccioli, Simone Rocha, Craig Green and more – that will start rolling out in the summer.