Is Pink Your Favorite Color? Victoria's Secret's Little Sister Makes It's Mark

In the empire of underwear, Victoria’s Secret is arguably the queen of them all. And now, Vicky has a new little sister as crown princess-and her name is Pink. According to Deborah Fine, CEO of Pink, this year-old brand is well on its way to achieving $1 billion status.

Pink’s goal, according to Ms. Fine, “Is to become a lifestyle brand and develop beauty for young women while leveraging the Victoria’s Secret brand.” I tried to explain this to a friend of mine.
“So it’s underwear for 13-year olds?” he asked. “No, no,” I said, fresh from Ms. Fine’s talk here at HBS February 22, “it’s more like underwear for when you feel laid-back and casual-not all black and lacy like the Victoria’s Secret’s stuff.” Ms. Fine’s description was much better, I have to admit. Perhaps I was just thinking about the fantastic goody bag attendees snagged on our way out.

Whatever you may think of the underwear, activewear, and loungewear Pink offers, Ms. Fine’s resume certainly indicates that Vicky’s little sister will become a major force. After all, this is the woman who single-handedly brought Bride’s magazine from inferior status at Cond‚ Nast, mecca of magazine publishing, to the largest consumer magazine of all time in three short years-and you can check the Guinness Book of World Records on that.

How was this possible? Ms. Fine’s secret was simple. She put herself in the mind of the reader-and the reader of Bride’s is a woman in love, a woman with money. So, for Ms. Fine’s staff, the mantra at Bride’s became “where love meets money,” and the rest is magazine history. The money kept rolling in, from car advertisements, real-estate ads, travel agencies, and more, all of which supplemented the standard bridal fare. With this huge success under her (very stylish) belt, Ms. Fine had made a name for herself.

The next stop for Ms. Fine was Glamour magazine, which was suffering at the time from an identity crisis. Was Glamour classy? Was it sexy? Could it be both? It was certainly a leading magazine. Then she landed at Avon cosmetics, where she launched a new, younger makeup line, Mark, which led nicely into her current role at Pink.

The most impressive aspect of her storied career, however, is in the way she started-as a “rover” at Mademoiselle. A rover is almost exactly as it sounds. Ms. Fine, then a student at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, was responsible for odd jobs at the magazine, and one of her favorites was keeping the container of M&Ms full for a junior editor. Nine jobs later, she was publisher. And, personally, I’m pink with envy.

March 13, 2006
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