About Michelle F. Williams

michelle head shotA native New Yorker, Michelle Williams began her retail career in the mid 1980’s as cosmetics and fragrance buyer at Abraham & Straus, a regional New York department store. She utilized her skills to then become fragrance and cosmetics buyer for Lord & Taylor, a national department store chain. Recruited to become the Divisional Merchandise Manager of Fragrances for Bloomingdale’s, New York, Ms. Williams was promoted to the position of Corporate Vice President of Cosmetics for Federated Department Stores in 1992. Responsible for the corporate management of a cosmetics and fragrance business with a volume of $1.8 billion dollars, Ms. Williams directed and developed the corporate financial plans for cosmetics and fragrances sales for all divisions of Federated Department Stores (Burdines, Bloomingdales, Macys West and Macys East, Richs/Lazarus, Bon Marche, and Sterns). Along with strong management skills and strategic planning, creative strategies were a key to her success.

In 1996, Williams recognized the importance of the Internet and its potential to the Federated Stores beauty business. She created and launched the first prestige beauty web site on the Internet called Beauty Focus, named after the magazine she created for the corporation. Recognizing the growing ethnic market in the U.S. she also created a private label line for women of color called Interface. In 1997 she accepted the Vice President of Cosmetics position for Macy’s West in San Francisco, which had the single largest cosmetics division in Federated Department Stores Corporation and the United States (Sales volume of $600 million).

In 1998 Ms. Williams parlayed her years of experience as a merchant to establish her own cosmetics consulting company, the Michelle Williams Group LLC.

She became the Executive Vice President of Merchandising for a new web site, Beauty.com. Ms. Williams secured prestige manufacturers for the site with exclusive arrangements, including a contract with Kevyn Aucoin to write a column for the site. She designed the consumer friendly architecture in the site, initiating a launch within six months in November 1999. Drugstore.com acquired the site in January 2000 for a sum of $40 million in stock.

Ms. Williams became President and COO of Kevyn Aucoin Cosmetics Company in November 2000. The brand and web site launched in December 2001. Ms. Williams also consulted with the Paula Dorf Cosmetics Company. As General Manager her focus was to bring the company to the next level and expand distribution nationwide. Ms. Williams launched an e-commerce website in 2002 and developed two categories of fragrance and skin care within the brand. She also arranged for distribution in Japan, negotiated the distribution agreement and helped to organize the brand to meet with all requirements needed for approval by the Japanese ministry. Paula Dorf Beauty Studio was opened in Ayoama in Tokyo in 2003 with 5 department stores, launching in spring, 2004. Sales grew 50% in her 2 years as General Manager.

In 2004 Ms. Williams returned to consulting various aspects of the beauty industry with a focus on emerging brands, both domestic and international. She assisted the fragrance company Strange Invisible Perfumes with their Barneys, NYC launch.

Ms. Williams has worked with Scott Barnes, lead makeup artist for Jennifer Lopez, heading up the brand’s company Cosmetico LLC to help develop distribution and seek investors. In March 2007 a procurement of an investor was made.

She continues to consult on other projects on a national and international level. Ms. Williams’ experience in retail distribution spans all categories: from Television Shopping Networks to Direct Marketing to Infomercials and traditional Department Store business.

The Michelle Williams Group LLC is a brand-building agency with specialist consulting expertise in developing and building brands. The agency’s proficiency is to advise on every aspect of a developing brand – from product development to outer packaging to pricing with a goal of bringing emerging brands to the marketplace.

Michelle Williams is currently working on a fragrance introduction and a cosmetic and skin care range for two well-known celebrities, launching in Fall 2014. Ms. Williams is also developing a “Reality” television program based on developing beauty products for well-known personalities.