Friedman ’83 Drives E-Commerce for Top Apparel Brands

friedmanSelling a product is about putting a puzzle together in the right order, says Mark Friedman ’83, president of e-commerce for Steve Madden.

“You show people how it solves a problem, or why they must have it,” he says. “You need to be persuasive and use different ways to get the message out.” Most of his work is measurable, and he likes feedback showing that a marketing program resulted in sales.

Whether it’s his “type A” personality or being a first-generation college graduate, Friedman always asks how he can improve. Most mornings, he’s in his office by six to get a jump on the day overseeing the Steve Madden, Betsey Johnson, and Superga-USA websites.

More than sales platforms, the sites also extend the brand. Customers can read a fashion blog, learn about the music program that features Lady Gaga and Ellie Goulding, or post photos of themselves on Instagram wearing their new Troopa boots.

Earlier in his career, when a client at Touche Ross invited him to join an apparel catalog startup as controller, Friedman shifted to marketing for apparel and home goods powerhouses like Tweeds, The Company Store, Brooks Brothers, and Calvin Klein. Sensing a massive change in the way consumers shop, he moved from a catalog-only operation to Brooks Brothers, which had retail, catalog, and online sales. It was prescient.

An economics and business graduate with an M.B.A. from Rutgers, Friedman credits Rose Marie Bukics, Jones Professor of Economics, with inspiring him to pursue accounting. He also recalls spending the “best four weeks of my four years” during an interim course in Israel led by Bob Weiner, Jones Professor of History, and Ilan Peleg, Dana Professor of Government and Law.

—Kate Helm

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