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Michelle Williams is a native New Yorker who began her retail career at Abraham and Straus a regional New York department store where she held the positions of both cosmetics and fragrance buyer for a number of years in the mid 1980’s. She went on to become a fragrance and cosmetics buyer for the national chain Lord&Taylor,and eventually was recruited to become the Divisional Merchandise Manager of Fragrances for Bloomingdale’s stores where she remained for three years.
In 1992 Ms. Williams became the Corporate VP of cosmetics for Federated Department Stores, responsible for the corporate management of the cosmetics business with a volume of $1.8 billion dollars. While in this position she reported directly to the Chairman of Federated Merchandising.
In 1996, she recognized the importance of the internet and its potential. She created and launched the first prestige beauty web site on the internet in 1996, named Beauty Focus, which also had a magazine aspect to it. In 1997 she took over the VP of Cosmetics position for Macy’s West in San Francisco, which at that time was the single largest cosmetics division in Federated Department Stores Corporation and the United States.
By 1999 she decided to leave the department store world and took her years of experience as a merchant to begin her own cosmetics consulting company, Michelle Williams Group LLC, located in New York City. Ms. Williams was part of the founding and development team of a new web site, Beauty.com. She made the deal for an exclusive contract with the famous makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin, to write a column for the site. She designed the consumer friendly architecture in the site and helped to complete the site in less than 6 months. Shortly after the site sold to Drugstore.com
A few years later, she became the President and COO of Kevyn Aucoin Cosmetics company where she developed business plans and helped to raise funds for the start up of the company, she also was involved in the selection of the suppliers for the brand and developing it’s e-commerce web site.
In 2004 Ms. Williams returned to consulting various aspects of the beauty industry with a focus on emerging brands both domestic and international. Some of her work included brands such as Paula Dorf, Scott Barnes, Darac Beauty, Cane + Austin, Stanley Jacobs M.D. and more.
In May of 2013 she launched her first book Beauty Entrepreneurs, a “how to” book that is a guide through the ups and downs of creating a beauty product business, giving tips on the best practices for success and what not to do. Her passion continues in her work with the love of new businesses and ideas and of course working with entrepreneurs.