Retail Guide: Up Close With Gary Shar

Retail Guide: Up Close With Gary
Gary Shar

He wants to take the concept of “shoppertainment” to a new level.

Gary Shar, son of Pentland USA President and CEO Sonny Shar, holds a degree from the London School of Economics and has worked extensively in television and film, including running a production company. And with the relaunch of his e-commerce site, Isaay.com, on July 15, he and business partners Bob Campbell of BBC International and Tarek Hassan of The Tannery aim to deliver a new level of functionality, content and interactivity to the shopping experience.

“While there are many media outlets and there are many e-commerce platforms, nobody has really put the two together in a substantial way, and in a very professional way,” Gary Shar said. “By creating an entity that really mixes the two together, we can be a key resource for trends and how to wear them, along with … a very curated e-commerce platform.”

In October, the site will feature its first exclusive footwear line with “Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Adrienne Maloof and the debut of the Adrienne Maloof for Charles Jourdan collection.

Shar, too, could soon join the ranks of reality TV. His production firm is in talks with networks to produce a series based on the company. Here, he weighs in on fashion trends and continuing the family name.

Customer profile: “18- to 45-year-old women with a household disposable income of $75,000 or more, who [decide where to shop based on] the shopping experience more than price, and who [are] looking for great customer service.”

Competing against other online retailers: “Where we don’t compete with them is when it comes to our content and our reality show and our webisodes and the other functionality we will be building in the future, such as our personal shopping service. But you can’t do it head-on or you’re going to lose.”

What’s working? “[Women’s fashion.] Year-over-year, we’ve had a 500 percent increase from 2010 to 2011. In 2012, we’ll be looking at another 500 percent increase.”

What hasn’t worked? “[Kids’.] The margins are just not there for what we do.”

Why are shoes so hot? “You can change [a woman’s] personality and give her confidence and self-esteem [with a pair of shoes]. Fashion offers that opportunity to everyone.”

Growing up in the shoe business: “It’s been an amazing experience. I’ve always been interested in what my dad does, but to actually have him work with me as I build my entity has been an amazing experience. It’s something we couldn’t share in media because it’s not what he does, but to do it in an area where he is so prominent has really been a special experience.”

Best advice from Dad: “Our name is everything. You can’t buy a good name. You can’t sell a good name. And it takes only a moment to ruin your name. I heard it all the time growing up, and it means a lot to me as an adult, and it’s something I’m mindful of every day of my life.”

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