Founder & Owner
Melissa Austria has been a fixture in the menswear industry for over 20 years. Her early career in retail started at the veritable Harry Rosen, which started her passion for menswear. From there she moved to wholesale, working as a Sales Manager and brand builder for such collections as Mexx, Claiborne for Men, Valentino and Clavin Klein menswear and launched Kenneth Cole men's sportswear and tailored clothing divisions in Canada. Dealing with the majors such as Holts, Harry's, The Bay and all of the best independent menswear stores across Canada helped to educate Melissa on the Canadian male consumer and the needs of the retailers. Sensing a void in the Toronto menswear retail landscape, Melissa opened Gotstyle The Menswear store in 2005, featuring a diverse range of over 35 different menswear brands appealing to the different life styles of a guy (casual, social, business) and their different body types. Within the second year of business, Gotstyle won Best Menswear store from NOW magazine, and won consecutively for 6 years in a row. In 2011, Gotstyle opened their second store, a 6,700 sq foot men's and ladies store in the Historic Distillery district and launched their e-commerce site.
Diane J. Brisebois
President & CEO
Retail Council of Canada
Diane J. Brisebois, CAE, is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Retail Council of Canada (RCC). She oversees the largest retail association in Canada serving over 45,000 retail establishments including independent merchants, chain stores, mass merchants, big box and online retailers. RCC’s membership covers all segments of the retail market including general merchandise, grocery and pharmacy. Diane joined RCC as its President and CEO in January 1995. Diane has held CEO positions in the not-for-profit sector representing various industries for the past 35 years. Diane has and continues to serve on a variety of Boards across North America. Ms. Brisebois is Immediate Past Chair of the Fair Factory Clearinghouse (FFC), an organization established to enable collaboration between vendors and retailers in assessing and improving workplace conditions globally. Ms. Brisebois is also the Immediate Past Chair and a member of the Executive Committee of the Forum of International Retail Association Executives (FIRAE) which represents retail associations from more than 30 countries brought together to collaborate on issues affecting the retail sector globally. Ms. Brisebois also served for many years on the Board of Covenant House Toronto, on the Board and as Chairman of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation and on the Board and as Chairman of the Canadian Society of Association Executives.
Erin is the Managing Director at 88 Creative, a Toronto-based creative communications agency. Prior to 88 Creative she was the Managing Editor at startup publication BetaKit, and director of communications at Sprouter, which was acquired by Postmedia in 2011. Erin is a frequent speaker with the National Speakers Bureau, writes a monthly column for the Financial Post, and is a tech commentator on CTV News. She has appeared in publications including The New York Times, Forbes, CNN, and Canadian Business, and was named one of Marketing Magazine's top 30 Under 30 marketers. Her claim to fame is being retweeted by Oprah - twice.
Senior Vice President & CIO
With more than 25 years of entrepreneurial, retail and technology experience, Michael is currently Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at the LCBO. His former roles include Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer for One Inc., Vice Present, Architecture Relationship Management and Technology Strategy at Canadian Tire Corporation, and various senior technology roles at Best Buy International and the T. Eaton Company LTD. Michael has been a visible and significant industry representative as the President of Smart Toronto and Vice President of Information Technology E-commerce and Operations at the Retail Council of Canada. He is currently a member of the Board of Governors for North Toronto Soccer Association, The Canadian Club of Toronto, and the Impakt Corporation. Michael is a graduate of York University, University of Toronto Rotman School of Business Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD) Program and the Harvard Business School Executive Program.
Duncan Fulton is President of FGL Sports, responsible for the overall strategic direction and growth of the Company’s more than 400 retail locations across Canada, including the Sport Chek, Sports Experts, Atmosphere, National Sports, Pro Hockey Life, Hockey Experts and Intersport banners. Prior to this appointment, Duncan served as Senior Vice-President, Communications & Corporate Affairs, for Canadian Tire Corporation (CTC) and Chief Marketing Officer for FGL Sports and Mark’s. Throughout his time at Canadian Tire, Duncan has been integral to the Company’s focus on building its brand, becoming a new world retailer, and establishing itself as the most innovative retailer in the world. Duncan's work with the Canadian Tire brand has been recognized through numerous industry awards, including being named Canada's Marketer of the Year by the Canadian Marketing Association in 2015. In 2013 alone, he earned a Bronze Lion in the media category at Cannes Lions, was named Marketing Magazine's 2013 Marketer of the Year for Canadian Tire, and Marketing Executive of the Year by the International Business Awards.
Kevin Graff is the President of Graff Retail, based in Toronto, Ontario. Since 1988, Graff Retail has specialized in working with retailers around the globe to increase their revenue through improved staff performance. For 27 years they have had the privilege of working with many of world’s best and brightest retailers.Kevin is widely respected as one of North America’s best retail speakers and trainers and was recently chosen as one of the Top 50 Retail Influencers. His principle belief is that retailers are losing too many sales each day in their stores that they should be capturing. Kevin’s approach to store operations and his intense focus on real, bottom-line issues continually produce outstanding results. In fact, work he has completed for his retail clients has captured the Retail Council of Canada’s Award for Best Employee Development Programs on six separate occasions.Kevin is also the creator of Graff Retail TV, the retail community’s leading source of online sales and management training. Since being launched in 2008, Graff Retail TV has provided thousands of sales associates and store management teams with the skills they need to succeed.
Senior Vice President, eCommerce
Best Buy Canada Ltd.
As Senior Vice President of eCommerce for Best Buy Canada, Thierry Hay-Sabourin oversees the company’s rapid growth in Total Retail and continued expansion into the online market. Responsible for the eCommerce strategy and vision for the organization, Thierry has been instrumental in the development of the company’s online approach and emergence as a leader in Canadian ecommerce. Since 2004, Thierry has played an integral role in the management and innovation behind the Best Buy website. He has spearheaded many significant projects including the introduction of the company’s online community forums and blog platforms. Thierry has been instrumental in bringing Best Buy Canada’s Total Retail initiatives to life, such as launching Reserve and Pick Up, eReceipts, Multi-Channel Fulfilment, Delivery Promise, Ship-from-store, and Marketplace. These initiatives contributed to Best Buy Canada being awarded with ‘Best Omni-Channel Integration’ at the Canada Post eCommerce Innovation Awards in 2014, 2015 and 2016, and named winner of the ‘Omni-Channel Award’ at the 2016 Retail Council of Canada Excellence in Retailing Awards. Thierry holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from HEC Montréal, where he was also a part of the first cohort in Canada to achieve a Graduate Degree in eCommerce.
Vice President & GMM
Graham Hillier is presently Vice President at Costco Canada and oversees the Ecommerce Division, Costco.ca, a role he has been in since 2007. Costco Canada serves more than 12 million members across Canada, and is one of the nation's largest retailers. Costco.ca is now one of Canada's largest and fastest growing online retailers. Graham studied at College Militaire Royal and Bishop's University graduating in 1982 with a BBA degree with a double major in Accounting and Human Resources. He then started his retail career at Zellers and spent 11 years in various store, buying and marketing positions before joining Costco in 1994. He was promoted to AGMM at Costco in 2001, in charge of Seasonal, Hardware, HABA, and Sporting Goods. Graham has participated as a judge for the RCC Excellence in Retail Awards as well as a member of the "Jury du Concours provincial ARISTA" since 2014
Jen Lee Koss
Co-founder & Builder
Jen Lee Koss is Co-founder and Builder of BRIKA. Jen is a Juilliard-trained cellist, a mother of three, and a graduate of Harvard University, Oxford University, and Harvard Business School. She spent over a decade working in management, consulting, investment banking, and private equity before Co-Founding BRIKA with her partner Kena Paranjape
Kate Ross LeBlanc
Saje Natural Wellness
Kate Ross LeBlanc is the CEO and Co-Founder for Saje Natural Wellness. Featured in the Top 100 Women Entrepreneurs list by Chatelaine Magazine, Kate has also been nominated for the YWCA Woman of Distinction and Canadian Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Currently serving as the ICSC Retail Chair for British Columbia Kate is passionate about retail, product innovation and design. She travels the world every year inspiring the Saje product line and design teams to evolve, expand, create. Kate was recently honored as the Entrepreneur Of The Year 2016 Pacific for Retail and Hospitality.
Partner, National Retail Leader and Consumer Analytics Practice Leader, Deloitte LLP
Jennifer leads National Retail Leader & Consumer Analytics Practice Leader for Deloitte Canada. She sits on the global retail executive team at the firm and leads the Consumer Analytics Center of Excellence (CoE) for Deloitte globally. Her mandate is to leverage her Retail and Consumer expertise in Omnichannel to help clients make sense of the vast quantities of data which exists in their organizations utilizing a insight-data driven approach. She focuses on assisting clients in developing insight-driven strategies to deal with an increasingly connected consumer and complex business issues. These strategies include -transitioning from a multi-channel organization to “insight driven” organizations by building and operationalizing eCommerce platforms, mobile capabilities and the re-designing the retail network. She also assists clients in embedding Advanced Analytics into her clients’ business to deliver a one-brand (“Omnichannel”) experience. Jennifer leads a multi-faceted and cross-functional team ranging from strategists to and advanced analytics teams including market researcher and data scientists. Jennifer was recently promoted to become the Managing Partner of Clients & Industries for Deloitte’s Advisory Practice, which includes over 100+ partners and 400 Deloitte staff. of She is now responsible for all topline revenue generating activities including leading Advisory’s top client account programs, eminence and thought leadership.
Egil Moller Nielsen
Senior Vice President & Head of Business, Penguin Pick-Up, Penguin Fresh
Egil Moller Nielsen brings years of global experience in executive roles within corporate strategy, end-2-end supply chain and turnaround for leading consumer product, retail and eCommerce businesses. Currently SVP & Head of Business for SmartCentres Inc. eCommerce strategy and new line of business ‘Penguin Pick-Up’ & ‘Penguin Fresh’ that combines the ease of online shopping with convenience of Brick & Mortar at more than 250 SmartCentres shopping centres. Prior to SmartCentres, he has served in executive roles around the world at Mattel-Mega Brands, Bodum Coffee & Tea, LEGO Group, ECCO Shoes and DHL. During his seven years at LEGO Group he was head of Global Distribution & Logistics, member of the corporate leadership team and one of key contributors to the successful turnaround and growth of LEGO Company – his turnaround of logistics was so successful it is taught at leading universities around the world. Egil Moller Nielsen has a MBA from Leicester University, BBA from Aarhus University and joined several executive programs at Stanford University and Harvard Business School.
General Manager, Wayfair Canada
Deborah Poole is the General Manager of Wayfair’s Canada business. Wayfair.ca is part of the Wayfair Inc. family of sites that offers an extensive selection of over 7 million unique home furnishings and décor items across all styles and price points. A pure e-commerce player since its founding in 2002, Wayfair focuses on retail technology and innovation to powers an unparalleled customer experience. Deborah is a 7 year Wayfair veteran with experience across multiple business units. She launched Wayfair.ca in January 2016 and has been scaling Wayfair’s unique assortment and customer service value proposition in Canada ever since. A graduate of Harvard (B.A.) and Georgia Tech (M.S.), she began her career as a consultant at McKinsey & Company and at software startup Vela Systems (acquired by Autodesk).
President & CEO
Sylvain Prud’homme was named president and CEO of Lowe’s Canada in May 2016. He is responsible for driving the Canadian home improvement business for Lowe’s, including RONA’s network of stores and independent dealers operating under other banners. Prud’homme joined Lowe’s as president of Lowe’s Canada in 2013, and he has more than 30 years of experience in the Canadian retail industry. Prior to Lowe’s Canada, Prud’homme served as executive vice president of operations and merchandising for Loblaw Company. He was also president of western operations for Sobeys and spent several years as senior vice president of operations and merchandising for Wal-Mart Canada. Prud’homme earned an MBA from the University of Montreal’s HEC business school. He is a member of the board of directors for GS1 and Lowe’s Companies Canada, ULC.
Buytopia.ca & Snap By Groupon
Tech titan Michele Romanow is an engineer and a serial entrepreneur who started three companies before her 28th birthday. The newest (and youngest ever Dragon in 28 countries) entrepreneur to join CBC’s hit show Dragons’ Den, Michele is the co-founder of e-commerce platforms Buytopia.ca and Snap By Groupon, which have saved millions of users hundreds of millions of dollars. She is also the co-founder of clearbanc.com, an online financial service for freelancers, independent contractors, and entrepreneurs. Snap by Groupon (previously called SnapSaves) was acquired by Groupon in 2014, and Buytopia.ca, who accelerated their growth by acquiring seven smaller competitors, ranked #3 on the "Profit Hot 50" list of the fastest growing Canadian companies, and #1 on Chatelaine's W100 list of fastest growing companies. Additionally, Michele’s work has been profiled in Forbes, The New York Times, INC, The Globe and Mail, and Chatelaine. She is also a Cartier Women’s Initiative Award global finalist.
Senior Vice President, Retail and Chief Human Resources Officer
Best Buy Canada Ltd.
As Senior Vice President, Retail and Chief Human Resources Officer for Best Buy Canada, Kamy Scarlett is accountable for sales and profits in over 180 stores across Canada, in addition to enacting the human resources and talent management strategies for the company. Kamy began her career in retail over 30 years ago, starting with a role at the Hudson’s Bay Company. She has harnessed invaluable experience in both line and support functions, for iconic Canadian retailers such as Dylex, Hudson’s Bay, Loblaws, Grafton Fraser and now Best Buy Canada. Often referred to as a ‘unicorn’ for her uniquely defined experiences in retail, Kamy’s background has included such roles as VP of Retail at the Bay, and SVP of Marketing for Hudson’s Bay Company and its four banners, as well as serving as the SVP of Talent Management at Loblaw. In her role at Best Buy Canada, Kamy brings a wealth of knowledge, a strong leadership mentality, and an acute skillset to lead her teams. Known for her passion for people and ability to lead cultural transformation, Kamy believes the qualities that lead to successful change are the same qualities that make a strong leader. Enacting the willingness to change requires a culture that’s based on faith in leadership and firmly rooted in open strategy and transparent communication. Kamy helps to embody this message of trust and relay it to her teams, remaining firm on the idea that people only fear change when they don't understand or trust the intention behind it.
Nicole Tapscott is General Manager of Casper, Canada. She leads the growth strategy of Casper's largest market outside of the US, splitting her time between Casper's headquarters in New York City and her hometown, Toronto. Prior to joining Casper, Nicole was Director of Partnership Marketing at Relationship Science, and Head of New Media and Collaborative Platforms at the World Economic Forum. She began her career consulting to major retail organizations at Accenture, and led international teams to identify new partnerships and marketing opportunities in lead generation, customer retention, and community engagement. In 2012, Nicole received her MBA from INSEAD.
Peter van Stolk
Peter van Stolk is the CEO of Sustainable Produce Urban Delivery or SPUD.ca™, the largest pure play online grocer in Canada. SPUD.ca is focused on creating meaningful relationships with Canadians around the benefits of local, organic food within the $100 billion annual Canadian grocery market. SPUD.ca operates in 4 markets and utilizes proprietary technology. This allows the company to provide free delivery throughout the 4 Western Canadian cities it services. With 400 employees, SPUD.ca is building community among its customers both online and off with a unique omni-channel strategy of hyper local small markets through its retail brands, Be Fresh Local Market and Organic Acres Market. Van Stolk believes: “Food will have the greatest impact on our generation. How we think about food, how we buy food, and how we consume food will change, and we are excited to be a part of this transformation”.
Co-Founder and President
Rent frock Repeat
For as long as Kristy Wieber can remember, she yearned for a career that would ignite her passions for art and fashion. Throughout her studies in Fashion Merchandising at Clark College in Vancouver, WA, Kristy would also draw and paint. Fascinated by cosmetics and the way in which it could transform any woman, Kristy worked with leading cosmetics brands in the U.S. and Canada, including Clinique, Prescriptives, Stila, and Philosophy for over fifteen years. Throughout her experience in the cosmetics industry, as both a makeup artist and manager, Kristy oversaw event planning, inventory control, sales strategies, team building and training. Relocating to Canada in 2003, Kristy shifted gears and transferred into Executive Recruiting. With a creative hunger that wouldn’t die down, she took a position with The Art Institute of Toronto. Shortly after, she was recruited by the marketing firm that did all the school’s campaigns, Big Clic Inc. Here, she oversaw SEO, SEM, PPC, direct mail and email campaigns, lead generation, conversion, user experience and account management. With over 3 years of experience in marketing and account management, 15 years of sales management experience, 10 of those years specific to retail, she was ready to start something that would bring together her talents and be part of the sharing economy at the same time. Along with her business partner, Rent frock Repeat came to life, allowing women all across Canada to RENT a new designer dress for a fraction of the retail cost. Becoming an entrepreneur to a collaborative consumption business that disrupts the retail norm has taught Kristy countless new skills and lessons and gives her a chance to make an impact on women, the environment and the retail landscape
CEO & Creator
THE TEN SPOT
Kristen Wood is the CEO + Creator of THE TEN SPOT Beauty Bars, Canada's fastest growing beauty services company with locations across Canada. Starting with a single store in Toronto’s then up-and-coming Queen West neighbourhood, THE TEN SPOT has become one of Canada’s beloved brands, in part due to Kristen’s quirky humour and commitment to excellence. Kristen was named Canada's Top Young Female Entrepreneur in 2015, along with being named one of PROFIT/Chatelaine Magazine’s top 100 female entrepreneurs in Canada for the past three years (2016, 2015, 2014). THE TEN SPOT has been ranked as one of PROFIT 500’s fastest growing companies in 2016 + 2015. Kristen is a frequent speaker on entrepreneurship and women in business. She lives in Toronto with her husband and way too adoarble five year old son, Jack.
Born and raised in Ottawa, Jeff received an honours degree in Economics from Princeton University and achieved his Chartered Accountant Designation, while holding a position with Ward Mallette Chartered Accountants. Making the leap to retail, Jeff joined Giant Tiger Stores, where after a number of years in operational and management roles, assumed the presidency. In this capacity, Jeff helped grow the business from a regional discount chain with 250 million in sales, to 1.4 billion in sales nationally as the third largest discount chain in Canada. In 2009, Jeff joined Farm Boy with a mandate to expand the business. Under his leadership, the company has grown from a nine store chain in the Ottawa region to now 23 stores in Ottawa, Kingston, the GTA and Southwestern Ontario with further expansion plans underway.
Founder & CEO
Ben Zifkin is a successful repeat entrepreneur and best selling author of 'The Rise of The Craft Brand”. He has spent the last 15 years helping some of the world’s largest organizations leverage technology to compete in business. Living and working in North America, Europe and Asia, he has become a trusted advisor to senior executives of Fortune 1000 companies. Ben has built three organizations with successful exits and raised significant venture funding. His companies have been recognized as Top 3 Best New Startups, Top 20 Most Innovative Companies, Fast 50 – Companies to Watch and Hot 50 Fastest Growing Companies. His most recent business, Hubba, is the fastest growing B2B network connecting brands and retailers. Through this network, Hubba is building out the world’s richest, most comprehensive data set of product information. Hubba is routinely recognized as one of the most powerful companies powering the next generation of commerce. Utilizing years of experience dealing with large organizations, Ben has focused his effort to shining a spotlight on amazing craft brands and their products. Heavily involved with the technology community, Ben sits on the Board of Directors of Ladies Learning Code, an organization focused on increasing the digital literacy of women, and The Upside Foundation, a charity that works with startups to donate 1% of their equity in support of local communities. In addition, Ben advises HackerYou and Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District, and mentors at The Next 36 and Founder’s Institute.