Siblings Lauren and Stewart Goldman know what it means to climb the shoe ladder. Their father, Bob Goldman, founder of Cels Enterprises, made sure they experienced all aspects of the business — from the mailroom to sorting fashion photos — before assuming their current roles. Lauren is president of children’s division Little Laundry, while Stewart is EVP of the firm, overseeing marketing, operations and sales.
“I started them in retail or the warehouse [so they could] grow through the different processes,” said Bob Goldman, who built Cels with his wife, Carol, and named it for members of his family. And while he initially discouraged his children from joining the firm, he admitted each has brought a fresh perspective. “Every generation has its own [outlook]. Their insights have helped change [the company].”
For Stewart Goldman, 42, his father has been an invaluable teacher. “He’s been [in the industry] his whole life, and I can draw from his wisdom and experience,” said the younger Goldman, recalling one valuable lesson: to not feel pressured to make a quick decision. And while father and son typically share the same long-term goals, Stewart admitted, “The road there [may] be different.”
A key goal for Stewart has been expanding the company’s retail businesses here and abroad, as well as e-commerce. In addition, he’s focused on developing Cels’ entertainment-based marketing, recently signing TV star Kristin Cavallari as online brand ambassador. And Chinese Laundry this year became the sponsor of both the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants.
Like Stewart, Lauren Goldman, 42, often approaches new opportunities and challenges differently than her father. “He’s more old school, and I’m more forward thinking,” she said. “Dad likes to play it safe.” However, that didn’t stop the CEO from giving his daughter creative license when it came to the children’s division.
According to Lauren, she first got interested in fashion while in high school in Switzerland, where she became caught up in the fashion scene. She further expanded her style horizons by joining Bob on business trips abroad and eventually attended Ars Sutoria in Milan.
And she is still learning. Lauren noted her father routinely reminds her to cater to a more broad-based audience to be commercially successful. For example, Little Laundry is currently sold exclusively in Europe due to its higher price points of $45 to $88, but Lauren aims to begin U.S. distribution next year by taking down prices.
As the siblings’ roles continue to expand, another Goldman could soon join the business. According to Stewart, his daughter Alexis, a student at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, has expressed interested in creating a Chinese Laundry apparel line.