In addition to hiring Emily Erusha-Hilleque, who led many Target private labels and designer collaborations, Macy's has engaged brand agency Brand Love Lab, founded by another Target design executive.
Macy's chief merchant Nata Dvir hired the firm prior to hiring Erusha-Hilleque, a Macy's spokesperson said by email.
Before founding Brand Love Lab in 2019, Nadine Steklenski was a designer at Target for 18 years, most recently as vice president of design, according to her LinkedIn page. Another partner at Brand Love Lab, Noria Morales, spent seven years at Target as senior director of design partnerships and influencer marketing.
When it comes to its private label revamp, Macy's is aiming for the bullseye.
In what has been a highly effective merchandising overhaul, Target has taken some key pages from the old department store playbook, remodeling stores to foster discovery and differentiating its assortments with owned brands. Now Macy's appears to be looking over Target's shoulder as it attempts to fulfill its promise to revamp its private label strategy as part of its Polaris turnaround.
Steklenski's team was involved in developing Target's Cat & Jack children's brand, one of the first to come out of the retailer's massive private label reboot, and All In Motion, which notched a billion dollars in sales in its first year, among other brands and design collaborations, Steklenski said in an email.
Brand Love Lab has also worked with Nike, the Food Network and HGTV, according to its website. Morales said by email that the firm no longer works with Target.
"We put the customer at the center of everything we do, and we mix art and science to create real, differentiated opportunity for businesses," Steklenski and Morales said. "Our background actually building some of the most loved brands and partnerships in retail means we know what it takes, and that is a big point of distinction between us and other consulting firms. We believe deeply in Macy's vision for the future, and are so excited to help bring that vision to life."
Macy's turning to executives so instrumental to Target's "cheap chic" revival shows how serious it is about its own private label changes, according to Retail Speak founder Sanford Stein.
"This bodes well for Macy's potential of creating some potentially on-trend brands," he said by email. "That said it doesn't right the whole ship."
Despite losing key executives to a rival, Target is unlikely to lose any momentum, however, Stein said, noting that Target's revenue and growth outpace Macy's quarter after quarter. "When was the last time you heard someone say 'I'm doing my weekly Macy's run'?" he said.