Sara Fernstrom – CEO Lyft Brands Group

Conceptual, creative, and unrelentingly honest

Fashion is ever-changing, and keeping that in mind, with a goal of managing this dynamic industry, Lyft Brands Group creates, builds, and manages own and other’s brands in the fashion and retail industries. Sara Fernstrom, the CEO and former Managing director of Lyft Brands Group works with a strong, staunch, mission of building long lasting, serious global brands. Their group works with a goal to enhance brand equity, drive global awareness, and customer engagement for sustainable and profitable growth.

The company has had great success creating sustainable, long term, consistent growth by creating licensing partnerships, extending the brands into other sectors such as accessories, clothing and home furnishing as well as, expanding brand’s global presence by partnering with best in class local distribution partners (licensees) resulting in increased brand loyalty by localizing the product assortment, marketing and messaging to be relevant to each country and culture while maintaining consistency though their brand management system. Direct to consumer has been an important channel of focus for the company for many years, both mono-branded retail stores managed though local partners and directly operated ecommerce businesses which continues to be of big focus for the company.

They sit at the intersection of many of the forces driving today’s consumer retail landscape. Their knowledge spans business categories, product, Manufactures classifications, retail channels, and geographies with long and trusted relationships with the best-in-class local product, distribution licensees and retail chains across all major territories globally.

The journey

Like most journeys, this journey of a thousand miles also did began from a single step, Fernstrom in her final year of college interned full-time for CNBC and the NBC Today Show which helped her get her first job in the prestigious NBC Universal Page Program. From there her career accelerated, after two years working at NBC, with a good network of contacts and an understanding of the inner workings of Hollywood and consumer products, NBC helped her get through the door at Creative Artists Agency (CAA).

A high power Hollywood agency, inspired her and was truly life changing, she truly thrived in this environment surrounded by innovation and the most brilliant minds of the industry where the ground-breaking ideas were formed and developed into multimillion-dollar business . After ten years of working at CAA and later UTA, she then decided to pursue her long-time dream which was to start her own company; which gave birth to the Lyft Brands Group in 2015. Lyft Brands Group is a brand management company targeting top quality brands with strong awareness and potential for long-term international growth.

Struggles and successes

Part of Lyft Brands Group’s strategy is providing an alternative business model creating more cost efficient and profitable businesses for brands. One way the company is able to quickly convert unprofitable brands to profitable businesses is by identifying inefficiencies often related to brands global operational structure with high costs in for example inventory management, store leases and store staff, local sales teams and buyers, global import, export, and distribution costs. By licensing out one or more product categories and territories internationally to licensees that are experts within their territory and who can spread the costs across multiple licensed brands, the company is able maintain the control of the brands by working closely with each licensee, ensuring the brand looks and feels the same in every country yet withstand significant operational costs required when running a business across the globe.
They’ve also seen a lot of successes and one of those was working with Ben Sherman which resulted in an increase in sales of 400% in the initial three years with global expansion to 52 countries.

Words of Wisdom

When asked for her piece of advice for the young, budding business minds, she replied

My advice to budding entrepreneurs would be that if you have something you are passionate about and believe in take the leap and pursue it. There is nothing more gratifying than fulfilling your dreams.

With that being said, there will be challenges and hurdles to overcome, but take each one as they come and use it as a learning experience to further your business path. Believe in your instincts but learn to listen well. Also always be open to advise from more experienced individuals. You need to constantly be at the top of your game and understand the ins and outs of your industry as your success relies on you. During my time at NBC Universal, each Page was able to set up 30-minute personal informational meetings with any NBC Studio executive. To this day I still think back on all I learned from these successful individuals. Therefore, belief, perseverance, and passion is definitely going to take you places.

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