Lisa Rosenbaum, vice president of merchandising at HSN, cites a sincere passion and love for work coupled with mentorship for her success.
Rosenbaum was the salutatorian of her graduating class at LIM, and was the recipient of the Art History and Textile awards. Her retail journey began as an intern while she was an LIM student. Rosenbaum also participated in LIM’s work-study program at Selfridges in London, which she describes as being “invaluable” in shaping her professional aspirations.
Prior to joining HSN, Rosenbaum held several key executive positions, including vice president of merchandising at Shoe Carnival Inc. as well as executive vice president at Benchmark Brands Inc. She was also division president at Crosstown Traders Inc., and director of merchandising at Victoria’s Secret Catalog.
Feeling fortunate to have had her own mentors during her own career journey, Rosenbaum now participates in the Two Ten Footwear Foundation Mentoring Program, which provides women who have varying levels of experience in the industry the opportunity to connect with seasoned professionals and seek advice on professional and personal goals. Here, she shares insights about her LIM College experience and career path.
WWD: How did your coursework and your experience at LIM help inform your career decisions?
Lisa Rosenbaum: The introduction and exposure to fashion and merchandising I received at LIM was invaluable in helping me develop the direction for my career.
Specialty courses in retail math, art history, buying and merchandising, and so much more provided a foundation and specific knowledge in the many facets of the fashion business. I was also fortunate to participate in a work-study program at Selfridges in London and I had several internships along the way that provided hands-on work experience and ultimately drove my career path.
WWD: If you could go back in time and give career advice to your younger self, what would you say?
L.R.: Know what you are good at and what gets you motivated. Get your bachelor’s degree — at a minimum — and consider a master’s degree while you’re young. The fashion world is filled with talented individuals and it’s a competitive environment, so this can be a real differentiator.
Learn to network early in your career. So many of my key positions came through networking.
WWD: How would you describe your career path? What were some of the challenges you faced?
L.R.: I would describe my career path as being in the right place at the right time, while applying myself 200 percent and taking in everything I could.
I was very lucky to have had wonderful mentors early on in my career and I sailed up the ladder. At the age of 26 I was a divisional merchandise manager in a large public company. At that point the challenges came, as I expected that pace to continue. I was very young, but had a lot of experience, so finding the next challenge was not that simple or easy. There are fewer opportunities at the top of the pyramid.
WWD: Have you had mentors at LIM or in the industry? If yes, how have they helped you?
L.R.: I was so fortunate to have several mentors in the industry who saw something in me and recognized my work ethic. They provided insight and education, as well as guidance on my career path — including advice on job changes, timing, identifying companies that I could contribute to, and so on.
WWD: What advice would you give someone considering a career in the retail and fashion apparel market?
L.R.: Formulate a point of view on what you believe you are best at and what you love to do. If you love the work you are doing, there is a high probability you will be successful. Think about your career path and educate yourself on the opportunities that are out there. Stay focused, work hard, network. Go the extra mile in all you do and you will stand out.