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Dear Pennies,

This past Friday, I was able to attend two events hosted by BRAG which stands for the Black Retail Action Group. In the morning, BRAG hosted the Executive Roundtable which was chaired by Diane Freeman. The roundtable featured top executives at fashion brands, entertainment sellers, and grocery brands. The roundtable consisted of moderator Michael Hyter, President and Managing Director of Global Novations, Richard Dent III, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer & Co-Leader of Victoria’s Secret PINK, Ronald Onorato, President of Stop & Shop New York Division, Michael Vitelli, President of Best Buy Americas, Enterprise Executive Vice President, and Robert Wallstrom, President of Saks OFF FIFTH Stores, and a Representative from A.J. Wright. In essence, these are the guys that are responsible for the business side of fashion, entertainment, and food.

Robert Wallstrom, Mike Vitelli, Ron Onorato, Richard Dent, Representative from A.J. Wright

The roundtable discussion was very open and informative and it was great to hear what top executives had to say about their respective industries, how they got started, and the advice they gave to the younger generation. If you follow me on Twitter (@LoudPen), you know that I was tweeting away during the discussion. Below, I am simply going to copy & paste the tweets so you can get a recap of the discussion.

  • Mike Vitelli the President of Best Buy America says that understanding finance is most important in business
  • Richard Dent, SVP of Victoria’s Secret PINK recommends internships to get experience & land jobs. Especially in the #fashion industry
  • After this event I have realized that I need to begin following the business side of #fashion more. The design stuff is cool but this is how you make the money.  And w/o money, you can’t continue to design your fashion.
  • Ron Onorato, President of Stop & Shop says that in business you need to learn your market. Figure out what they want & how 2 give it to them
  • Ron Onorato also recommends that you find a mentor that you have things in common with who will tell you when u are going in the wrong Direction. Very good advice!
  • Richard Dent said he experienced a non-mentor so he promised himself he wouldn’t be that way. Dope!
  • Robert Wallstrom, President of Saks Fifth Ave Off Fifth, said that he got some of his best experiences working 4 an incompetent boss (cont) He said it forced him to learn more and expand his skills. <– Never looked at it that way!
  • When asked how to put more diverse C level executives in their companies, Mike Vitelli responded that Best Buy hired ppl that reflected the Community. C level is like upper management. So that gives the company an outlook that a top position is possible. <– Good stuff!
  • I think seeing a diverse C level is crucial to people aspiring for that life. Seeing is more powerful than being told.
  • Robert Wallstrom said that you need to take jobs you don’t want. It helps you expand your skills. It helps your career development. You need a variety of skills to move up in your career. Don’t stunt your career growth by becoming narrowly focused. <- Invaluable advice!
  • Robert Wallstrom said he pondered promoting someone to an officer position & he asked her to be in mgmt but she was focused on buying. That ended up turning him off & not giving her the promotion. He wanted her to develop her skills & then he was gonna make her a top officer in the company!
  • Basically, this woman missed out on a top position b/c she only wanted to do one thing! Smh
  • The BRAG Roundtable is over! Awesome event, learned a lot. #fashion is a business first & foremost!

BRAG Roundtable Participants and BRAG Board Members


Friday evening, BRAG held the BRAG 40th Annual Scholarship and Awards Gala. Unfortunately, I missed most of the event but I did want to share the event’s highlights with you. Scholarship awards were given to both high school and college students pursuing a career in retail and other related industries. Additionally, awards were given to fashion/retail industry professionals who achieved success in their respective fields.

Award recipients included Mrs. Cookie Johnson, Owner of Cj by Cookie Johnson who took home the JJ Thomas Business Innovators Award, Larry Barkley, Senior Vice-President Retail, Tourneau, Tommy Hilfiger, Principal Designer & Chairman of the Design & Strategy Board, and Delena M. Sunday, EVP, Human Resources and Diversity Affairs, Nordstrom who all took home the BRAG Business Achievement award. Tyson Beckford, international supermodel took home the BRAG Special Recognition award.

After the awards presentation and dinner, everyone went to take pictures. This is where the event got interesting. Every woman it seemed, desperately needed a picture with Tyson Beckford. Also when the BRAG board and BRAG awardees posed for pictures, everyone and their mama fought for the best shot and angle. I myself had to push past some folks in order to get some decent pictures. I’ve been blogging for two and a half years but I’m still a newbie photographer. In essence, I learned that to get a great picture, you have to stand where pictures are being taken and not move, snap as many shots as you can to get the best one, and sometimes, you gotta shove past people or heads/bodies will block your shot.

Overall, the event was a success and I’d definitely recommend checking out the BRAG organization and coming to future BRAG events. Check out the pictures from below for snap shots of the event’s awardees, organizers, and the most fabulous and fashionable attendees.

And there it is. The Fashion and Style of the Pen…de la Pen.


BRAG Awardees



BRAG President Gary L. Lampley and Tyson Beckford



BRAG Gala Fashionable attendees



BRAG Gala Fashionable attendees


For More Information on BRAG check out their website: