Panelist Sharon Leicham is the author of Merchandising Your Way to
Success and How to Sell to Women. She consults nationally with
manufacturers and retailers to help them improve their merchandising
and display with the result being increased profitability. She began her
career with Royal Robbins retail and then moved to the wholesale
division serving as National Sales Manager. While at Specialized
Bicycled Components she headed global and trade marketing,
establishing Specialized concept shops and point of purchase materials.
At Sierra Designs she headed the apparel division and worked with
retailers to ensure sell through of Sierra Designs products. She has
served as Merchandising Editor for Outdoor Retailer magazine and
SNEWS, and writes and speaks about visual merchandising for a number
of trade magazines and shows.
Panelist Kim Walker, co-founder and owner of outdoor DIVAS has
over 16 years of retail experience. She launched outdoor DIVAS,
the first women's-specific outdoor and snow sports shop, with
partner Michael Callas in 2002. In addition to offering the best
technical women's-specific gear and apparel, outdoor DIVAS also
educates women with a line-up of classes and events. Kim is
called upon to contribute to product design for notable outdoor
and ski industry manufacturers and she speaks regularly at
industry events including the Outdoor Industry Rendezvous and
at SIA's annual summit. She was also recognized in SBG
Magazine's "Top 40 Under 40" and was recently elected to the
OIA's Board of Directors. In her free time, Kim loves to play
outside. Mountaineering near her Boulder home-base has taken
Kim to the summit of more than half of Colorado’s fifty-four
14,000 foot peaks. She is a multiple marathoner, expert skier,
enthusiastic mountain biker, and mother.
Panelist Elizabeth Howland is the principal and founder of andHow, a
marketing firm specializing in helping companies market more effectively
to women. She formed andHow because she believes that if companies
would be willing to listen, set aside stereotypes and clearly and
consistently communicate their brand values to their segment(s) of the
women’s market, they would be practically assured of success. Over the
past four years, andHow has developed brand strategies for companies in
the apparel, sports, wine, financial services and personal care industries. Prior to founding
andHow, , Elizabeth spent several years in executive positions for multi-channel retail firms
including Genesis Direct, Triplex Direct Marketing and Gymboree. She was also VP of
Marketing at Athleta, where she directed all marketing functions and led the design and
production of the Athleta catalog and e-commerce store. She developed and managed
customer research programs, including an in-depth customer survey and facilitation of focus
groups, which showed the power of gaining feedback from women in real world settings. She
lives in Petaluma, California and enjoys serving on the Board of Friends of the Petaluma
River, rowing, sailing and playing the mandolin in a bluegrass group.
Panelist Thayer Sylvester co-founded the beach lifestyle
apparel brand Carve Designs in 2003 with her lifelong
friend Jennifer Hinton. Prior to founding Carve Designs,
she worked for Alpine Investors, LLC, a $150M private
eEquity firm for whom she managed portfolio companies,
secured credit facilities, and developed sales strategies
and operations systems. Early in her career, Ms. Sylvester
worked for Nonstop Solutions and The Gillette Company.
Ms. Sylvester earned a B.A. from Trinity College in
Hartford, CT. She currently lives in Northern California
with her husband and two young daughters. When she’s
not busy as the CEO of Carve Designs, you can find her
enjoying the outdoors with her family.
Panelist Beth Kepler characterizes herself as a research-driven
designer and takes pride in identifying white space in the
market, defining its parameters and building brand identity to
match. She founded Studio Iugo in 2005 after successful stints
with Nike and The North Face, and has done color trend, merchandising and product design
work for clients including: Timberland OP, Keen, Chaco, Mammut, Jansport, Oakley,
Camelbak, Petzl, Timbuk2,and Wrangler.
During her 12-year career in the outdoor and design industries, Beth has seen dozens of great
products fizzle internally before getting to market because the strategy was unclear to the
stakeholders. This compelled her to emphasize clear product concepts, tied to consumer need
and trend, from inception of design. When it comes to women's product, Beth says there is
both greater potential for success and larger margin for error than there is with men's product
because of the variety in both consumer taste and shape. In addition to managing her
business, Beth enjoys Sudoku, climbing, singing, sewing, skiing and playing with her daughters
from her Golden, CO home.
Moderator Kristy Holland is the Editor in Chief of Women's
Adventure magazine, the only sports, travel, and lifestyle magazine
published specifically for active women. She's passionate about
inspiring women to explore the outdoors by sharing advice and
stories that empower and create community. Kristy's outdoor have
included stints as a search and rescue volunteer, the first-mate of a
tall ship, a Tibetan-school teacher, and the navigator of an
adventure racing team. She has worked for and written for
magazines including Portland Monthly, Chicago, Backpacker, and
Bicycling. She currently lives within walking distance of Boulder
Colorado's Flatirons—which she climbed for the first time this July.