Meet B-Stock’s Apparel Expert: Lisa Penn
Let us introduce you to Lisa Penn, B-Stock’s in-house apparel expert whose passion for fashion was sparked by her seamstress grandmother. Growing up, Lisa remembers neighbors and friends bringing clothes to her grandmother for alterations. Lisa loved watching her grandmother work and enjoyed seeing the transformation in the clothing. In high school, her love for fashion grew: she frequented department stores and boutiques to check out the latest styles (and make purchases to fill up her closet). When her guidance counselor asked what she was interested in, Lisa replied: “I love to shop.” The obvious recommendation was for Lisa to become a buyer. So she took up her counselor’s advice and went on to earn a BA in Fashion Merchandising and Retail Management. (Side note: the commute was 4.5 hours a day to attend college in NYC, but she was dedicated and determined to enter an industry she loved.)
After college, Lisa was accepted to Bloomingdale’s executive training program. She started out working on the floor as the manager for the Ralph Lauren shop but soon realized she wanted to be more involved with the financial side: pricing and inventory, and overall store planning. Lisa wanted to analyze the business. She worked at various specialty stores and wholesale organizations but really got her chance to learn the strategic aspects of the business at Macy’s.
During her eight years at Macy’s she held many leadership roles in Planning and Human Resources, Home division and Operations. While in HR, Lisa was a project manager and worked with senior executives on corporate initiatives involving business development and process improvement. While there, she became a Director of Planning and was responsible for a $1.8 billion division.
It was at Macy’s where Lisa developed a love for analytics. She was constantly analyzing pricing, seasons, brands, receipt flow and the competition. This led to strategizing how to get the right merchandise at the right time at the right price and for the right location. Lisa was constantly gaining new insights from her research and work, and she used that data to help her make decisions. For her, strategic thinking was always at the forefront, and that’s what allowed her to provide recommendations to leadership to help improve and grow the business.
After Macy’s, Lisa went on to a new position at Saks 5th Ave as the Director of Financial Systems, which involved project management, training and collaborating with the merchant and IT organizations for system enhancements. Her next role was Director of Merchandise Planning for several areas, managing a planning team responsible for financial forecasts, assortment planning, inventory management, pricing strategies and brand analytics. As a planner your key priorities are to achieve the planned sales, gross margin and turnover targets. Her experience there propelled her on to merchandise planning positions at Charming Charlie and Talbots.
After many years of experience directing merchandise and financial planning for top apparel retailers, Lisa decided she was ready for a career change. She wanted a position that allowed her to combine her love of data and analytics and remain connected to the fashion industry. Enter her Strategic Account Manager position at B-Stock: a role that allows her to provide data-driven strategies to top apparel retailers. This includes providing auction strategies that allow the retailers to increase recovery rates on returned, excess and other liquidation merchandise. She’s excited that she’s able to speak ‘retailer-to-retailer’ as she can fully relate to the challenges in the fashion industry.
“The biggest metric that can hurt a retailer’s business is excess inventory; but overstocks and returns are impacting almost every fashion retailer these days,” says Lisa. “Strategic planning for this merchandise—one that protects the brand—is crucial. Many retailers can benefit from our business model since we can manage the liquidation marketplace for them and utilize our effective auction strategies to maximize profit. I often call the buyers for my accounts to get their feedback and to understand their inventory needs. Understanding the customers’ needs, striving to improve the buyers shopping experience and exploring ways to attract buyers to my sites are habits from my years working in retail. I’m fortunate that I can translate those skills to my current role.”
When you work with Lisa, you know you are working with someone who knows the details.
When she’s not addressing her client’s excess inventory needs, Lisa still finds time to unwind and relax. Primarily, she loves to travel (25 countries and counting). In her own words, “Travel is very important to me. I love meeting new people and learning about different cultures. I am very passionate about learning. I love fine dining—steak and seafood are my favorites! I love Netflix. Growing up in the New Jersey shore area is the reason why I love being close to water. I love where I live. I love the beach.”
Lisa is definitely full of passion for life and her work; we are proud to have her on the B-Stock team.
Have a question for Lisa or another member of the B-Stock team? Contact us.