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An Interview with The Limited CEO Linda Heasley

Posted Nov 22 2011 10:26pm

* Remember to enter the giveaway – I’m giving away 2 $50 gift cards to The Limited – click here to enter {you have until 10pm Wednesday 11/2311} *

I recently had the opportunity to do a really cool interview. I got about 30 minutes of one-on-one time with The Limited CEO, Linda Heasley. Just after attending the ribbon-cutting for the latest The Limited store to hit town, and after checking out the new boutique-style of the store , I sat down with Linda for a quick chat. She was warm, engaging, and easy to approach, which made the interview, which I was a little nervous about, comfortable and fun.

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This was my first real interview, so I guess I didn’t know all (any?) of the tricks of the trade. I just brought my laptop and took notes. I think I was supposed to record the interview, but I didn’t. So, please forgive my amateur-ness, but instead of quoting Linda word-for-word, I’ve compiled notes from the interview into the following:

I’ve been shopping at the Limited since I was in high school, and I still shop there now. The Limited has obviously been successful over the years. Tell me about The Limited brand – where you’ve been and how you’ve helped keep the brand relevant over the years.

Linda joined The Limited in 2007. The brand was getting ready to be sold. Linda wanted to get back to profitability and establish relevance. She started by setting targets based on who their customer is. She also looked into streamlining operations. She worked on non-merchandise procurement, sourcing, and production. The company started investing in market research. In 2009, The Limited became profitable for first time in 17 years, and they’re still growing. There are 244 The Limited stores now, and they’re adding 20-25 next year.

And where do you see The Limited in the future?

The Limited is always looking for opportunities. They’re adding footwear next year, and increasing stores that have shoes from there. The Limited wants to open internationally. They’re also looking at other businesses to start, including a full figure line for the plus-size customer. In fact, the new line, eloquii , is launching next week. Linda even showed me a sneak peek of the new beta web site, and I must say, it looks fantastic. eloquii will feature the same level of fashion as The Limited. They shot product on full-figured women for the web site. Sizes 16 and 18 were used to design clothes. They’ll start with two pant fits and two jacket fits. Once the fit perfected, they’ll put jacket fits in all of suiting. Fun fact – this idea started when a fashion blogger approached Linda at an event.

* Update – eloquii is LIVE! Click here to check out the site *

Highlights Linda pointed out for eloquii:

  • Pencil skirts and dresses
  • Models are 14 and 16. Sizes and statistics will be on site – maybe not at launch, but at some point soon
  • Celebratory
  • Get the look section
  • Jodi Arnold
  • Sign up for mailer to get invite to shop when it launches

Which projects are you most proud of and why?

Eloquii when it launches. The focus on positioning around your personal success (she’s talking about you Limited customer!). How the brand celebrates women. Every women defines success individually and personally. They can help them remove one key problem – what to wear. They want women to make friends with their closet and help her feel great so she can deal with more important things. They recently received a wonderful customer letter demonstrating this. The woman had gained a lot of weight, needed new interview clothes and went into the store twenty minutes before close to get something for an interview. The woman went in for the interview and got the job. She said she was able to focus on interview because she felt confident and felt great. She went back in the store and the associate who had helped her before asked how her interview went. She was delighted about being remembered.

Who is the ideal Limited customer?

Research shows The Limited has five segments open to them. They decided to focus on 3.

“Tyler”:

  • 25-35 years old
  • Old enough and sophisticated enough to appreciate fashion
  • Loves fashion but also wants to be appropriate
  • Well-paid
  • Active
  • Able and capable enough to take on more responsibilities
  • Dressing for next level
  • Likes to spend money on fashion
  • Often in malls several times a week
  • Very involved in community
  • Going from work to another event – charity, business, girlfriend
  • Doesn’t always have time to go home – If going from desk to dinner, she can change shoes and is good to go.

“Amanda”:

  • Young girl
  • 18 to 25
  • Introduced to The Limited by her mother who says she can’t go to interview wearing “club-wear”
  • Doesn’t want to wear mothers suit
  • Age appropriate but fashion-forward

“Megan”:

  • 30+ but now married, having kids, making purchasing decisions about house as much as clothes

***

Reader Questions:

{I asked you guys via my Facebook page if you had any questions for Linda, and here are two you asked. I actually did pose a third, more difficult question , which Linda happily answered – check out my Facebook page for the Q&A}

“What are your main considerations when designing for the modern woman?” (Alex)

A combination of class and trend.

Keep to Tyler for assortment. The names help them talk objectively.

For example, they have “Brand Day” where they talk about what’s going on with Tyler and research. What’s Tyler. What’s not Tyler.

Open your closet first. Go for those foundational pieces that can take you millions of miles. Bring in a fashion jacket to go with a bottom you bought last year. Get a one shouldered top or leopard print belt to freshen up your wardrobe. Don’t walk away from fashion. Balance and make it versatile. They want her to mix it up. If she has ten things in closet, they hope eight are from the limited. They want to be on her as much as possible. They want her to feel feminine and beautiful.

“When you design a new line, do you keep the “city girl” or the “suburbs girl” in mind more often?” (Cait)

Tyler is the edit point. There’s an urban Tyler and suburban – they have a lot of things in common. Tyler walks on the wild side and goes to exotic places. They bring other labels in with different design inspiration to take her across the train tracks.

***

Random Questions:

{Here are a couple non-The-Limited questions I asked}

Have you ever tried Zumba? If yes, what did you think?

Linda hasn’t yet tried Zumba but would like to. Since she frequents NYC, I recommended she do class with Tanya Beardsley.

What’s your favorite food?

Food overall – she loves to eat. Sometimes she has weird cravings, like artichokes. She likes a good hamburger. She likes to explore different cuisines: Thai, Indian, and French. She recently had some great Brazilian food.

***

Thank you so much to Michelle and The Limited for the opportunity to speak with Linda. Thank you to Linda for being so personable and easy to interview. :)

* Remember to enter the giveaway – I’m giving away 2 $50 gift cards to The Limited – click here to enter {you have until 10pm Wednesday 11/2311

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