The Success of Lillian Vernon

It all began
with black and white in 1951. Today, nearly 45 years later,
the mail order business of Lillian Vernon has swept the mail
order market and maintained a financial foothold where
others could not. Lillian Hochberg (now known as Lillian
Vernon) started her business at her Lillian\'s motivation was
to supplement her husband\'s then $150 dollar a week
income by working from her home. She could be
homemaker and help with the finances too. Her success
started by using $495 dollars of wedding gift money to
place an mail order add in Seventeen magazine selling an
inexpensive leather belt with matching purse that she herself
had designed. As a hook, she offered to moaker in the
Chelsea district of New York, manufactured the two items
for around $3 dollars. The purse and belt came in black,
tan, or red and sold for $7 dollars.(Youman, N, 1989, pg
26) After 6 weeks of advertising Lillian had received over
$16 thousand dollars in mail orders. Her belt and purse
were such a hit, she immediately increased her inventory to
inexpensive jewelry and make-up paraphernalia. Over the
past 45 years, Lillian has had two sons, Fred and David
Hochberg, both of whom joined their mothers business and
quickly rose up through the management ranks. With their
help, her -little business+ went public in 1987 on the
American Stock Exchange. Since the Lillian Vernon
Corporation. went public, it has overcome the unavoidable
but near fatal traumas that face every entrepreneurial
enterprise. In this case, inadequate computing capacity and
inefficient warehome the customer places the order to the
time they receive the merchandise in the mail. Lillian
Vernon has not relied on demographics to sell her products
to the public. Instead, her secret to success lies in womens
intuition. The lean seat-of-the-pants operation she prefers
makes her company tremendously agile. For example, in
1985, Lillian spied the cacooning trend and immediately put
a furniture specialty catalog together. She got the trend right
but the bulky orders overwhelmed the company+s
fulfillment capability. (Youman, N. 1989, pg 26). In 1993,
when Sears announced that after many years it will cease
publication of its giant catalog, known as the -wish-book,+
a very long ch During the time when the mail order giants
were cutting back, the Lillian Vernon Corporation.
reviewed their catalog databases to clear out customers
who had not ordered in quite some time. During their
review, they found that many of the active customers were
buying presents for children and grandchildren. This caused
the corporation to create its first niche book called -Lilly+s
kids.+ Lilly+s Kids does $30 million in sales of toys and
school equipment. (Lightman, 1996, pg 1) Now, Lillian
Vernon has targeted 1. Make time for yourself and your
family. 2. Surround yourself with the best people possible.
3. Be open to new ideas and better ways of doing things.
4. Be prepared to take risks. 5. Like what you do and like
what you sell. 6. Don+t dwell on your mistakes or
setbacks, but instead learn from them and move on. Never
let mistakes defeat or discourage you. 7. Don+t try to do it
all----Delegate! 8. Don+t grow too fast without the proper
systems and people in place to handle it. 9. Don+t be
afraid 10. DonÕt spend more money than you have-- set
realistic budgets and stick to them. Keep your debts
manageable. (Lightman, 1996, pg 2) Finally, in todays fast
paced society, it is easy to see how a company like the
Lillian Vernon Corporation could appeal to the
overworked consumer. This type of company provides an
easy affordable way for those consumers to gift shop
without derailing them from their hurried everyday lives. I
suspect that the Lillian Vernon Corporation will stand head
and shoulders above its competitors long into the 21st
century. REFERENCES Coleman, L. -I went out and did
it.+ (Iowa: Forbes, August 17, 1992) 150:102(2).
Lightman, A. Lillian Vernon Home Page
(http://www.amex.com/weblink/Lvc/index.html #business,
1996) Mason, J. Lillian Vernon Focuses on Cusomers.
(New York: Management Review, May, 1993) 82:22(3).
Youman, N. The Queen of Kitsch. (New York:
Adweek+s Marketing Week, April 24, 1989) 30:22(4).
The Research Process Researching my topic started
through the World Wide Web (WWW) utilizing the
software -Netscape+. I originally found the Lillian Vernon
home page and several items from her catalogs. I then
accessed the University of Maryland University College+s
VICTOR (an online library catalog that allows the student
to search databases of the University of Maryland and its
associated colleges.) I accessed VICTOR through the
University of Maryland+s Home page on the World Wide
Web. After ac With the printed data, I went back into the
main VICTOR menu and did a title search for