For Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al-Saud, also CEO of a Saudi Arabian luxury retailer, women's rights is an economic issue. "You cannot have half of your population not working," she says. That's why over the last two years, she's made bold moves to empower women, including ousting salesmen to free up positions for female clerks.
With Mariam Naficy's Minted, stationery designers get a platform—and feedback—for their work. Users vote on designs, and the most popular ones are manufactured, with artists getting a cash prize and 6%-8% of sales. "It's not really about stationery," she says. "It's about encouraging and nurturing creative talent."
As director of concept design for Starbucks, Anthony Perez is redefining what we think we know about the typical coffee shop. Recently, he has introduced a Starbucks built from a cargo container, honed the idea into a 500-square-foot walk-up store covered partially with reclaimed lumber and local art, and developed variations of these shops that can squeeze into spaces where larger Starbucks might not fit. "We need to make sure whatever we do is provocative," Perez says.
With all the new directions the Kate Spade label is going in, maintaining identity throughout them is equally important—sticking to the Kate Spade "girl." Deborah Lloyd has ensured that design and marketing work as one and shoppers are buying.
With Wanelo, Russian web designer Deena Varshavskaya lets anyone make their own outlet mall online. Its 11 million users can shop and create their own collections from more than 300,000 online stores. And for some brands, that's been more of a boon for sales than Twitter and Pinterest.
Believe it or not, some brides aren't into the white and lace. Apparently a lot of them: At Stone Fox Bride, Molly Guy's curation of artistic, breathable gowns, she books 250 appointments a month each spring. And this year a line of everyday apparel is in the works.
It's Michael Phillips Moskowitz's job to wring some quaintness from the behemoth that is eBay. And he does it with style: his curated lists of buyable items into collections such as "Retro Redux" or "The Natural World" put context and character into the buying from one of the largest online marketplaces. "We want to use the power of story to expand people's thinking and inform behavior," he says.
"Some people refer to their pants as their Bonobos," says Andy Dunn, founder and CEO of the direct-order apparel company. "That's a great moment in the history of a brand." The other moments that got him there? Year-over-year sales doubling for five years straight.
As chairwoman of J. Barbour & Sons, Margaret Barbour has kept the 120-year relevant through collaborations with Adidas and Pantone, which have led to record profits while maintaining the line's identity. "Move very, very carefully," she says, "and never so far from the heritage that people don't recognize the brand."