Young boys draw pictures of superheros and battleships. Not Joshua Schulman. As a kid, he drew pictures of malls and stores with signs for I. Magnin, Joseph Magnin and “Gucie.”
At age 13, Schulman was already thinking retail, writing letters to the late John Nordstrom, including one saying he was “ecstatic” that Nordstrom Inc. would be opening in the Westside Pavilion in Los Angeles.
A bit of Schulman’s quirky childhood came to light at the UJA-Federation of New York Fashion Division’s luncheon Thursday at The Pierre, where Schulman, the president and chief executive officer of Coach, along with Sam and Libby Edelman and Joyce Green, Chanel’s general manager of fashion, were honored by the UJA.
Linda Fargo, Bergdorf Goodman’s senior vice president of the fashion office and store presentation, entertained the crowd of 300 by projecting images of Schulman’s atypical scrawls and letters to Nordstrom for everyone to see. Even as a young boy, Fargo said, “Josh was miraculously clear-sighted. He’s been truly living out his destiny.”
Schulman seemed caught off guard by the reveal but maintained the levity, noting that as a kid attending Jewish day school, he wore monogrammed “kippahs” (yarmulkes in Hebrew) to match his monogrammed sweaters. “It was on-trend religious head-gear,” said Schulman, who before joining Coach worked with Fargo at BG. He spoke of his Jewish roots, noting, “My sister is a cantor married to a rabbi. My brother is a Yiddish scholar, and I am in the schmatta business.” Then he praised the UJA for its breadth of services and inclusiveness. The UJA-Federation of New York for more than 100 years, cares not only for Jews but for those of all backgrounds in New York in times of crisis and needs, fighting poverty, helping care for the elderly and those with special needs, among other services.
“So far, we have raised over $1 million,” said Gilbert Harrison, chairman emeritus of Financo and chair of UJA’s Fashion Division. Larry Leeds, vice chairman of UJA’s Fashion Division, told the crowd, “No philanthropic organization gives you a bigger bang for your buck.” The funds will support the formation of two community hubs, one in central Queens and one in Brooklyn, providing digital food pantries and social services including financial counseling, benefits enrollment, legal services and emotional support groups. Locations are currently being scouted.
During the luncheon, Karen Katz, former ceo of the Neiman Marcus Group, introduced Joyce Green as a “nice Jewish girl from Oklahoma City who rose to the top of her field” through hard work and made a “rare crossover” from beauty and fragrance into fashion. “I learned firsthand from my parents the power of generosity and helping others,” Green said.
Richard Baker, governor and executive chairman of the Hudson Bay Co., introduced Sam and Libby Edelman by highlighting their support on the product side, each time HBC acquired another retailer, from Lord & Taylor to Hudson’s Bay to Galeria Kaufhof. “Sam and Libby are the kind of people who stand up to do something first.”
“Every year, we think to give back in the most authenticate way possible. This year, it’s the UJA,” said Sam Edelman.