Liz Claiborne, the first Woman to found a Company that landed on the Fortune 500 list

1 Mar

After 25 years as a New York designer, Liz Claiborne co-founded her own firm in 1976, first designing stylish, moderately priced sportswear that freed working women from plain, dark suits, then expanding into menswear, accessories and perfume. Liz Claiborne Inc. broke into the Fortune 500 list of “America’s largest corporations”—becoming the first company founded by a woman to be so honored. 

Biography

Born Anne Elisabeth Jane Claiborne in Brussels, Belgium, on March 31, 1929, Liz Claiborne is best known for revolutionizing the women’s apparel industry in the United States. She served as head designer and co-founder of the company that bears her name, Liz Claiborne Inc., for more than 20 years.

The daughter of a banker,she spent many of her early years abroad, and became fluent in both French and English. Liz and her family moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1939. After WW II ended, she moved to Europe, where she studied art. Liz never earned a high school degree. At the age of 19, she won a design contest held by Harper’s Bazaar magazine, and soon moved to New York City to pursue a career in the fashion industry.

Liz’s first job was as a sketcher for sportswear designer Tina Leser, also working from time to time as a size model. She worked for several other designers over the next few years, and, in 1950, married book designer Ben Schultz. The couple had one son, Alexander, before splitting. In 1957, Liz married Arthur Ortenberg.

Liz Claiborne Inc. foundersThe founders of Liz Claiborne Inc.

liz claiborne
In 1960, Liz Claiborne became head designer of Jonathan Logan’s Youth Guild label, and stayed for more than 15 years before breaking out on her own. With $50,000 of her own savings and $200,000 from friends, family members and associates, she co-founded her own firm, Liz Claiborne Inc., in 1976 with her husband, Arthur Ortenberg, and partners Leonard Boxer and Jerome Chazen. At a time when women were entering the workforce in great numbers,Liz built the company into a billion-dollar-a-year business, first designing stylish, moderately priced sportswear that freed working women from plain, dark suits, then expanding into menswear, accessories and perfume.
liz-claiborne
She also chose to revamp the visual merchandising aspect of the department store; rather than separating the store by pants, shirts, and blouses Liz chose to put all the pieces together in order to make a complete look in one section of the store. After the success of her new floor plan many companies followed suit. It did not take long for Liz Claiborne, Inc. to be considered one of the fiercest competitors in the business.
Liz Claiborne Inc. reached $5.6 million in 1986, and the firm broke into the Fortune 500 list of “America’s largest corporations”—becoming the first company founded by a woman to be so honored. In 1987,Liz  Claiborne was elected chairman of the board and CEO of the company, but she retired from active management in 1989.
.
Vintage Liz Claiborne 
liz claiborne
 Liz Claiborne
liz claiborne
liz claiborne
liz claiborne
liz claiborne
liz claiborne liz claiborneAfter retiring, Liz devoted much of her time to social causes. She and her husband started the Liz Claiborne Art Ortenberg Foundation to support a number of different projects around the world; over the years, the organization has supported conservation and environment efforts, including those aimed at protecting elephants in Gabon and Mozambique.
She was honored in 2000 at the American Fashion Awards for her environmental work, especially for her work to stop the killing of elephants for their ivory tusks. But business didn’t stop after Liz stepped down. Over the years, Liz Claiborne, Inc. has acquired several companies that you may know such as, Lucky Brand jeans, Juicy Couture,Kate Spade, and Mexx
Liz faced a health crisis in her later years: She was diagnosed with peritoneal cancer, which she courageously battled for many years. She died from complications related to her cancer on June 26, 2007, at the age of 78, in New York City.
Although Liz has passed away, her name is seen everywhere and she will forever be remembered. In a biography written by her husband, Art, he concludes, “Liz left us more than her work, perhaps more than the consequences of her work; she left us herself. The making of that self, and the good she did for others, is the story I tell.”
.
More vintage Liz Claiborne 
.
liz claiborne
liz claiborne
liz claiborne
liz claiborne
liz claiborne
liz claiborne
liz claiborne
Lots of vintage Liz Claiborne can be found on http://www.etsy.com & http://www.ebay.com

Book

Book Cover

To have lived a joyful life and to have departed that life a victim of a vicious cancer is, in brief, the story of Liz Claiborne’s life. But the story is much more than that. Born in Brussels in 1929, the third and last child of a highborn American banker and his delicate, beautiful wife, she was born privileged and taught that privilege incurs responsibilities. She lived out her early years untouched by life and death during the ominous 1930s, until the ominous became the real and the family fled to America. Inheriting her father’s love of paintings and museums and her mother’s love of costumes and clothing, Liz early on discovered “the beauty of everyday things,” and at the age of twenty won the Grand Award in the Harper’s Junior Bazaar Design Contest, which earned her a trip to Paris to work for ten days with famed couturier Jacques Heim. For the next twenty-five years she worked as a designer and sketch artist before starting her own company with her husband Art Ortenberg. Liz Claiborne, Inc. was an immediate success, and was by 1981 a Fortune 500 company with $1.2 billion in sales. In this book Art Ortenberg does not so much celebrate Liz Claiborne the designer and entrepreneur, but rather Liz the woman. “Liz left us more than her work,” he concludes, “perhaps more than the consequences of her work; she left us herself. The making of that self, and the good she did for others, is the story I tell.”

.

.

liz claiborne

 

info: http://www.biography.com/people/liz-claiborne-9248891

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: