Revolutionizing fashion and beauty

Gilt Groupe co-founder on how she changed the way people shop

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Do you have what it takes to start a business that revolutionizes retail in the middle of an economic winter

That’s exactly what Alexandra Wilkis Wilson and four of her friends did when they started Gilt Groupe – the members-only flash sale site.

Gilt Groupe was officially launched in November 2007. The idea behind the business was something the industry had never seen before. The site would feature members-only flash sales for the most coveted and high-end fashion brands during a time when luxury retailers weren’t selling their goods online, let alone at a discount.

Gilt Groupe wasn’t Alexandra’s only plan to influence the fashion and beauty industry – she also served as CEO of Glamsquad, an NYC-based hair and makeup company offering on-demand services. Alexandra’s two passions merged together when she founded Fitz, a mobile makeover service that freshened up customers’ beauty looks and wardrobes. 

In this episode of The Tony Robbins Podcast, join Tony onstage during a Business Mastery event as he talks with Alexandra about how trust builds businesses and how women have unique advantages when it comes to customer acquisition strategies. She tells the story of how Gilt Groupe grew from a small start-up with a business model no one believed would work to a profitable business that sold for $250 million in less than ten years.

Alexandra Wilkis Wilson

Many business owners want to build a business that will withstand an economic winter. Alexandra built a thriving business during one.

She did this by building a strong foundation of trust with her employees and customers first. When you open the lines of communication to truly understand what your customers want and need, you are in a better position to make the pivots necessary.

When it came to building her internal team, Alexandra leaned into the strengths of her co-founders and employees. Each one had a clearly defined role to play that helped the business succeed.

In the end, her strategies created a business that changed the way millions of people shop. Alexandra’s story is the perfect example of what happens when you trust your instinct, communicate frequently with your team and customers and act quickly to build a business you believe in.


[01:30] Introduction
[02:30] Tony welcomes Alexandra
[03:40] Launching in 2007 – it came from a place of passion
[04:25] Establishing clear roles among founders
[05:40] Flexing her multilingual skills in business
[06:25] Adjusting how you speak to someone based on their objectives
[08:10] The secret to Gilt’s growth
[09:20] Building a business that would thrive during winter
[10:20] Finding the capital to purchase inventory
[10:40] Moving from venture to private equity funding
[11:20] It’s all about smart money
[11:40] The future of traditional retail
[12:20] The subscription model
[12:40] Catering to the time-starved customer
[12:55] Bringing services into the home
[13:10] Leaving Gilt to lead Glamsquad
[16:10] Glamsquad started as an app
[17:10] Vetting employees
[18:10] Building trust with customers
[19:00] Taking massive action – now
[20:20] Launching the first sale on Gilt – without a return policy
[21:30] Fitz
[22:00] The average person wears only 20% of their wardrobe
[23:00] Taking the time to understand your customer
[23:20] Challenges as a woman in business
[24:40] Advice to a female entrepreneur that’s just getting started
[25:25] The importance of networking
[25:50] Knowing the milestones to hit along the way

Team Tony

Team Tony cultivates, curates and shares Tony Robbins’ stories and core principles, to help others achieve an extraordinary life.

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