The Housewares Charity Foundation celebrates its 22 years of philanthropy this evening at the Navy Pier when it honors Wayfair co-founders Niraj Shah and Steve Conine; Ulta Beauty CEO Mary Dillon; and Libbey Chairman and CEO William Foley.
Tonight’s HCF gala marks a strong show of unity by the housewares industry by bringing together colleagues, collaborators and competitors to add to the more than $50 million raised for HCF legacy charity, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and select other causes backed by HCF honorees.
In such unity, the HCF gala also reflects the wide scope of a housewares business in which the smallest independent companies on the supplier and retailer sides co-mingle with the biggest corporate players.
This year’s honorees, at first glance, represent such a diverse business range: an e-commerce home furnishings platform; a beauty products retailer and a glassware manufacturer. Closer inspection, though, reveals common threads in the efforts by these executives to weave for their respective companies a clearer, straighter path to today’s discerning housewares consumer.
Wayfair’s Shah and Conine, tonight’s Humanitarians of the Year, jumped on an apparent furniture void in Amazon’s endless-shelf assault by developing a curated online furniture platform that captivated the all-important Millennials. That set the stage for a wider move, backed by leading-edge technology and logistics, into home furnishings that has created a growing, merchant-based, online alternative for housewares.
Ulta’s Dillon, the HCF Legacy Humanitarian Award honoree, arrived as CEO in 2013 to awaken the stagnant beauty superstore chain, recapturing customer loyalty with a refreshed selection-service-salon formula that had once catapulted the chain as a model of experiential retailing success long before experiential retail was a retail buzzword. Ulta is in store expansion mode again, this time backed by a content-rich, advisory digital media and e-commerce strategy.
Foley, tonight’s HCF Lifetime Achievement Award honoree, took the helm of Libbey in 2016 and put to work more than 30 years of glassware and consumer product leadership to transform Libbey, in his words, from an “industrial manufacturing company to a customer-based marketing business that is highly responsive to the changing market and can lead that change.” Foley has strengthened Libbey’s organizational capabilities to drive growth by developing innovative new products, building stronger and closer relationships with customers and consumers; and simplifying business for more efficiency.
Each of tonight’s HCF honorees are united by their visionary, transformative impact on their respective businesses. And tonight, they share an even greater transformative connection with the entire housewares industry in support of an important cause.
Congratulations on behalf of the HomeWorld Business team to Niraj Shah, Steve Conine, Mary Dillon and William Foley.