June 14, 2017
Polsinelli and Harvard Business School Club of New York are hosting the event, "Ashley Stewart: Reinvention Through Kindness, Mobilization, and Behavioral CRM," on June 14, 6:30 PM, at Polsinelli's New York office.*

In August 2013, the plus-size retailer Ashley Stewart, whose roots are in the urban communities, found itself in a desperate situation. It was on the verge of bankruptcy—its second in three years on the heels of over a decade of operating losses. As chronicled in a July 2015 Harvard Business Review piece, the company was also over a decade behind technologically and digitally, with no Wi-Fi at its corporate offices and circa 1997 DSL connectivity at stores sprinkled across the United States. Unsurprisingly, morale and trust levels (goodwill) were low, both internally and externally. With no history of success upon which to rely, and at liquidity levels which made making payroll challenging, Ashley Stewart seemed destined for liquidation.

James Rhee, a private equity executive with deep expertise in consumer/retail investing and impact situations, had been on the Ashley Stewart board since 2011. He went on a listening tour – gaining input from the brand’s ardent fans – and became resolute in the broader negative implications of a liquidation. The company’s core customers in urban neighborhoods valued the sense of community that personified the brand. Generations of women visited Ashley Stewart to not only purchase essential wear as well as for church, reunions and other life occasions, but also to exchange acts of friendship and support.

*Please note: This is an invitation-only event.