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NEW YORK — Since arriving at HSN as chief executive officer in 2006, Mindy Grossman has done a lot of revamping, and three-and-a-half years later, she continues to enhance the network’s positioning as a bona fide fashion, entertainment and multimedia platform.
This story first appeared in the October 8, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Under Grossman, HSN recently gave its roster of designers a definitive boost. Last spring, the network launched the Curations With Stefani Greenfield and on Sept. 30 added V by Eva, the new line by Vivre.com’s ceo, Eva Jeanbart Lorenzotti. These will be followed on Oct. 28 with the Timeless by Naeem Khan collection and on Nov. 13 with Molly Sims’ Grayce jewelry line.
The launches offer a backdrop to what is arguably one of the most high-profile fashion partnerships the network has had since its 1977 launch. On Nov. 17, HSN will launch American Glamour, a new lifestyle collection designed by Badgley Mischka that features categories from apparel to handbags, footwear and jewelry, with an enhanced offering planned by March.
“Fashion is very important to our customer,” Grossman said. “She thinks of herself as fashionable, and loves to engage in and hear about trends from designers and the brands themselves. When we engage our customer on what we call ‘her’ side of the business, like jewelry, apparel, accessories and beauty, it’s where we engender the loyalty. We weren’t the most fashionable and we had to really define this.”
Partnering with high-fashion talent complements Grossman’s overall strategy for the network, and corresponds to the experience she brought to HSN. Grossman arrived at Barry Diller’s IAC, which owns HSN, from Nike, where she was global vice president of apparel. Before joining Nike in 2000, she headed Polo Jeans.
Grossman is known for her merchandising and fashion skills, which helped transform HSN into a multimedia network that bridges editorialized entertainment content and merchandising with television and online retailing. In addition to brands by notables such as Nate Berkus, Carol Brodie and Patricia Field, Grossman forged a partnership with beauty giant Coty Inc. During her tenure, the network also has expanded on or added features such as a Shop by Remote service, and embraced technological advances such as live-streaming retail shows and segments online and over the network’s iPhone app — like clips of Wolfgang Puck giving cooking classes that allow shoppers to click and buy the products.
“We have the ability to not just sell product, but to create experiences and tell stories,” Grossman said. “It’s the convergence of everything that is happening in lifestyle programming today, from reality television to the emergence of celebrity and authority culture, the ability to showcase fashion and beauty and communicate a brand story.”
Since relaunching the network in summer 2007 with new graphics, new sites and product offerings, as well as relaunching hsn.com that August, Grossman noted an immediate rise in traffic. “Our strategy was, how do we engage and capture our best customer, how do we reactivate customers we may have lost and then how do we bring in new customers?” she recalled. “What was interesting was that the first customers to respond were our core customers, because what we were giving them was more variety with more newness and more of what they loved. We upgraded the quality; we completely transformed the customer service experience; we used the mantra ‘surprising, yet familiar.’”
She diversified the portfolio, adding about 70 new brands in both the beauty and fashion categories, with a wider range of prices from fashion to accessories to household and kitchen goods to beauty.
In its second quarter ended June 30, HSN Inc.’s adjusted net income was $15.4 million on revenues of $640.1 million. In 2008, the adjusted net income was $18.4 million on sales of $695.8 million.
The Timeless by Naeem Khan collection will feature a range of classic to versatile, glamorous evening pieces from tops to cocktail dresses, jackets and skirts that can be mixed and matched. “HSN is a great vehicle to reach a consumer who otherwise does not have access to my designs,” said Khan, who hopes the partnership will help his main collection, as well. “I intend to increase the overall sales volume of my business and bring an awareness of the brand to a mass audience,” he said.
V by Eva, meanwhile, featured a range of accessories and apparel in the spirit of Lorenzotti’s own style. “Embarking on new and exciting projects that are sometimes out of your comfort zone is one of the most effective ways to grow your business,” Lorenzotti said.
In addition to Khan and Lorenzotti, HSN is expanding its Carlos Falchi business to include a World of Falchi concept. On Oct. 22, the network will unveil a new collection that includes accessories such as scarves, footwear and fine jewelry.
HSN also is teaming with Lucky magazine’s annual Lucky Shops shopping event, which this year takes place Nov. 5 to 7. As part of the partnership, Shoshanna Gruss, Rebecca Taylor, Tracy Reese, Gerard Yosca, Abbe Held of Kooba, Rebecca Minkoff and Helen Ficalora have created exclusive collections for HSN. They became available on hsn.com on Oct. 1, and will be sold on the network on Oct. 16 and 17, with a program featuring the designers.
“It really is this perfect combination of editorial; design; unique, differentiated and incredible storytelling on the part of the designers who will be on air,” Grossman said.
HSN also is partnering with Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelo’s production company, Milojo Productions, and the TLC network for a new reality television show called “Mom Inc.,” which is slated to premiere in the first quarter of next year. “We will be able to bring those products to life,” Grossman said. “It’s the idea of even extending the HSN platform beyond HSN.
“There is such a convergence between media and retail and the online content experience and community,” Grossman noted.
Citing a scene in the movie “Working Girl” where Melanie Griffith’s character, Tess, is in the elevator with the chief of Trask Industries, trying to explain to him how she came up with the concept of Trask Radio — an idea she hatched while reading and combining a Page Six and a Suzy item.
“What I say to my group is that the world right now is ‘Trask Radio,’ because you can really put together things today that you wouldn’t have thought of putting together before,” Grossman added. “You have to just identify what is going to excite the consumer, because at the end of the day, that’s what it comes down to.”