Monica Ferguson is the co-founder of Solemates, a line of fashion solutions. Known for the namesake product, a patented heel cap that prevents high heels from sinking into grass and getting stuck in cracks, Solemates is an innovative brand that marries the concepts of beauty and cosmetics with the pragmatism of traditional shoe care. Solemates offers solutions to common shoe frustrations ranging from blister prevention, comfort, foul weather protection, and more. Solemates were featured on Shark Tank (Season 8, Episode 4) and in numerous media outlets including The Today Show, O Magazine, Real Simple, and more.
Prior to launching Solemates, Ferguson worked at Goldman, Sachs & Co. in New York. She has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, MSNBC Your Business, Business Insider, Forbes, CNBC, and Fox 5 New York.
Ferguson frequently speaks about entrepreneurship, women in business, Shark Tank, generating press for your business, creating authenticity in branding, product development and invention, career changing, and more.
She graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in finance and studied at Oxford University’s Trinity College. She obtained her MBA from Columbia Business School, with concentrations in Finance & Entrepreneurship. Originally from the Greenwich, Connecticut, Ferguson lives in Manhattan.
Cindy Groves - Wacoal America
Cynthia Groves joined Wacoal America, Inc. in 2013 to open Retail Stores for Wacoal Direct. Cynthia’s extensive retail consulting experience in real estate, store operations, finance, information technology, buying, and merchandising enabled Cynthia to lead this company-wide initiative.
Prior to Wacoal America, Cynthia was Vice President of Retail Solutions for the Nielsen Company. Cynthia managed retail accounts such as Marriott, Cushman Wakefield, and several others to build a retail consulting practice. In August 2010, Cynthia joined Newmark Knight Frank as a senior managing director, consulting. She was recruited by Newmark Knight Frank to launch retail consulting capabilities within the global corporate services division, to complement and support the firm’s growing retail brokerage operation. The objective is to integrate retail store operations, real estate portfolio strategy, supply chain and retail location optimization, focusing on developing portfolio business solutions from strategy to implementation.
Ms. Groves is known as an industry leader among retail companies, real estate investment trusts and capital market providers, and has spoken at several retail conferences for real estate portfolio strategy. For 25 years, she has helped retailers successfully redesign their business strategies, restructure operations and improve profitability. Her extensive retail experience includes executive positions at Neiman Marcus and Jacobson Stores, Inc., in the store, buying and merchandising areas of the retail business. Ms. Groves’ industry experience includes retail, finance and real estate for clients such as Vornado, Federal Realty Investment Trust, Art Assets, name a few. Her extensive retail experience also includes tenant representation for specialty retailers, department stores, and large big box retailers. Earlier in her career, Ms. Groves provided leasing and strategic consulting for The Taubman Company in Detroit, MI. She also worked for KPMG in retail, consumer products, e-integration and supply chain.
Gretchen Hansen (F'90) - Decorist
Gretchen Hansen is the founder and CEO of Decorist, the leading online interior design platform, with over 500 designers nationwide. Hansen started Decorist in 2014 as a new way for consumers to design and shop for their homes—all virtually. Using innovative technology to help customers visualize their new homes, the Decorist platform delivers a personalized, virtual experience to thousands of customers across the country. Soon after launch, Decorist quickly gained attention of large retailers including Lowe’s, Target, Amazon, and Bed Bath & Beyond. Decorist was acquired by Bed Bath & Beyond in 2017. Hansen continues to run the company and is focused on building the new category of online home services and 3D visualization technologies.
Gretchen graduated with honors from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where she earned a certificate in international business diplomacy. She also holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Deloris Wilson (L'16) - BEACON: The DC Women Founders Initiative
Deloris Wilson is a social impact strategist harnessing the power of inclusion through economic development and technology. As an advisor to new majority-led companies and mission-driven startups, she supports efforts to diversify funding pipelines and build inclusive economies through entrepreneurial ecosystem building. As an Inclusive Innovation Fellow at Georgetown Law's Tech Institute and head of Strategy and Operations at BEACON: The D.C. Women Founders Initiative, she leads an innovative public-private partnership founded by Google, Georgetown University, and the D.C. Mayor's Office to support over over 400 women business owners in the area.
In April 2018, she authored Building Inclusive Ecosystems with Intentionality: A Strategy to Enhance Support for D.C.'s Women Founders, a groundbreaking, first-of-its kind analysis to align national trends with local opportunities in support of diversified entrepreneurial growth. To date, her work has been shared with diversity and inclusion advocates at Google, the United Nations Foundation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, and cited in Forbes, Adweek, Technical.ly, Medium and Quora. Her previous publications on issues of civic participation, public health, and economic diversification span the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University, the Institute for Technology Law and Policy at Georgetown Law, and the Stanford Social Innovation Review.
As Founder/Principal of AXL (aksel), she provides data-driven insight, impact measures, and creative direction to organizations including the Beeck Center for Social Impact, Black Girl Ventures, the Minority Business Development Agency, and Alice. She is an advisor to UN Women and is a graduate of Spelman College (summa cum laude, Bonner Scholar), Harvard Kennedy School of Government (Public Service Fellow), and Georgetown Law (Pro Bono Scholar).