Meet the Team Behind SOAK
Michelle Vale, Co-Founder
Michelle Vale is a New York City based fashion designer with deep roots in the fashion industry. Both her parents had careers in New York fashion, which helped fuel her imagination and sense of style. Her father, most notably, held a senior role at Sasson Jeans during their heyday in the ’80s. Her mother owned and operated a clothing boutique. It was these early experiences that exposed her to both the glamor and the grit of the fashion industry. “I quickly became enamored with fashion”, Michelle says. “And the hard work it takes to transform and impact the world.”
In 2006 she founded Michelle Vale Inc., a privately owned fashion company that creates high quality handbags for luxury consumers seeking versatility, distinct style and sophistication. Michelle Vale designs have received recognition and awards from prestigious industry organizations including her recent selection as a 2014 Fashion Group International Rising Star finalist and Lucky Magazine, “Best New Designer for Fall in 2007”. The collection has received coverage with influential fashion publications such as Vogue, W, Elle, and Instyle and has been worn by fashion icons including Sarah Jessica Parker, Kate Beckinsale, Cameron Diaz, Kate Bosworth, and others.
In addition, Michelle is the brainchild of “Make it in America: Empowering Global Fashion” and serves as co-producer on the documentary which premiered September 2014 during NY Fashion Week.
Elena Corsano, Co-Founder
Elena Corsano comes from a unique background with over fifteen years of experience in the fashion and beauty industries. As a former top fashion editor and stylist for magazines like Vogue Italia, Elle and Town and Country, Elena brings an insider’s perspective to brand development.
During her time in the magazine industry, she represented publications at the European and American ready-to-wear fashion shows and styled front-of-book and fashion well stories. As a stylist and art director, Elena collaborated directly with world-renowned photographers and fashion visionaries like Gilles Bensimon and Paolo Roversi.
Although Corsano loved editorial, she felt a magnetic pull back to her heritage in Italy. She became an art director, stylist and muse for Roberto Menichetti of Menichetti, Burberry and Cerutti design houses.
In her spare time she found herself consistently providing indispensable advice to peers and colleagues. Throughout the years her creative intuition proved to be the “magic” touch in product sales and brand awareness, and eventually led her to move back to NYC and open Arsenic 9, a branding agency for lifestyle brands. She is a Wall Street Journal “Woman of Note” and the lead ambassador for the entire program.
Elena’s clients are continually wowed by her eye for design and innate intuition as a taste maker. This dynamic mother-of-two lives in Tribeca with her fiancé and sons. Her personal interests include world travel and exploring art galleries and exhibits.
She’s a self -proclaimed spiritual junkie and makes meditation and healing a priority in her life.
Elaine Sugimura, Advisor
Elaine R. Sugimura has spent the last 30+ years leading companies from the design phase to product procurement and placement onto the retail sales floor. Her passion for fashion, numbers and team development has led her to roles in Sales, Merchandising, Design then ultimately to the C Suite as President and Chief Executive Officer. Her skill as a “change agent” in both the domestic and international marketplace spans wholesale, retail, vertical retail, licensing, distributorships and also the digital sector. Having managed overall brand strategies for highly regarded brands worldwide, Elaine has mastered the ability to integrate all departments to ensure a cohesive brand image and case study type success.
Elaine is a seasoned executive with a solid track record of successfully leading premier fashion lifestyle brands. As a Principal of ek2, llc, a branding, strategic marketing and consumer promotions consultancy, Elaine has created, nurtured and supercharged both domestic and international brands in a wide array of categories, from accessories to finance. Saying her experience ranges far and wide would be an understatement — she has crafted marketing plans for a multitude of countries.
Elaine was most recently the President & Chief Executive Officer and Corporate Board Member of RABEANCO a successful Hong Kong based Accessories brand that had a vision of worldwide expansion. They tapped Elaine for her brand and marketing expertise and opened their first three freestanding retail locations on American soil. During her expansive career, Elaine has also held the position of President & Chief Executive Officer for Spiegel, LLC (Brands: Spiegel, Newport News, and Shapefx), Alpargatas USA (Brand: Havaianas), Pacific Connections (Mass), Anne Klein Accessories, Tommy Hilfiger Handbags and Small Leather Goods, Inc. and Esprit De Corp. She has extensive experience from luxury to mass as she began her career and credits her strength as an executive with the experience gained during her time at Manetti-Farrow, Inc., the sole distributors of the Gucci Accessory Collection, Fendi and Mark Cross Leather goods Accessories.
Kevin Frain, Advisor
Kevin has over 30+ years experience including 20 years in ecommerce. Kevin was a leader in growing the ecommerce platform for a Fortune 500 retail company from $50M to $750M. He has led the growth in the digital space for B2C and B2B ecommerce, international and domestic procurement and order management as well as other aspects of supply and demand chain management. Holding titles such as the Chief Financial Officer and EVP of Operations and Supply Chain Management, he continues to implement transformational business strategies and solutions. Kevin specializes in leading clients through digital strategy, process and organizational design plus software implementation.