Joan Abraham: Founder of & Part-time Assistant Professor at Parsons, The New School

My NativeAdVantage: Creative content for the online environment


I was lucky to be bred into the fashion industry learning early on the art of clothing. I was producing fashion shows for major department stores in my twenties and saw the entertainment value of fashion. After producing two very successful live fashion shows for the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1984-5, I became aware of the entertainment value combined with the interactive element of buying clothing seen on video or television. This desire to create fashion programming, or, using fashion and style for brand distinction in any industry, became my area of focus taking us into the future of commerce. The idea of using lifestyle storytelling for selling merchandise is the future of online selling.

What do you do best?

My expertise is creating brand distinction through style. Design and style are powerful elements of differentiation in a world of abundance. Online branding is essential to all businesses, big and small, to capitalize on the global marketplace. Creating partnerships between industries with co-branding campaigns that benefit both brands with image enhancement and sales through enhanced customer demand is also part of this brand building approach. My relationships in the television industry and the fashion industry are creating new revenue streams through lifestyle marketing and video entertainment.

What makes you the best?

Since the early popularity of the web and ecommerce, I have nurtured the idea of selling merchandise through storytelling and entertainment. I have observed the growth of the role of the Internet in our lives from it's inception, carefully tracking the progress of ecommerce through my teaching at Parsons School of Design. As my class, originally named "Ecommerce Marketing" at it's inception in 1999, then renamed "Social Commerce", running to present day, I have had a keen perspective of the impact of ecommerce on the retail industry and where commerce is going over the near future.

How will you stay the best?

My aggresive interest in pushing these new relationships between industries into the market place will produce a sophisticated template that benefits all parties substantially. By being an early adaptor to these ideas and not giving up on the advantages they offer, while constantly refining the ideas as the marketplace adjusts to new technology, keeps this approach and technique in the forefront of lifestyle merchandising.

What are your aspirations: business & personal?

I always wanted to create fresh ideas for the marketplace using the entertainment of fashion. Seeing this concept begin to take hold and come to life, has been a goal for many years. Seeing the process to fruition is one of my greatest aspirations. Generally speaking my aspirations are to leave my personal community and my professional community in a better place through my individual efforts. I love bringing out the talent of today's young people, using their talent with technology to make their communities stronger. Individually we can make such a difference if we focus on how each one of us can enhance the world we live in, because each one of us is capable of making a difference in our own ways today.

What fascinates you?

I am fascinated by new creative thinking. Seeing a movie or theatre or the ballet that is completely original or imaginative is a source of great inspiration. I am also fascinated with how empowered the young people today are with the aid of, and their knowledge of, the computer and technology. Seeing that energy channelled into helping others is so gratifying.

Favorite Motto?

Never give up. You can do anything you put your mind to if you want it badly enough.

Favorite People?

Diane Vreeland: my inspiration Steve Jobs did more for design and the awareness of the value of design than anyone in my lifetime. Susan Stroman is a brilliant choreographer

Favorite Places?

New York City, Sag Harbor, Paris

Favorite Products?

Luxury fashion

Current Passions?

Good Entertainment Fashion Good food A good book My work

Most challenging moment?

My media company: Videowalls in shopping centers nationwide running high fashion footage promoting the shopping centers, and selling commercials for the video walls before place based advertising was a line item on advertising budgets. Yes we got the venture up and running, but the timing for the project was too early to sustain a long term advertising revenue stream.

Biggest disappointment - how did you/will you overcome it?

Nothing that I can think of.

Biggest success?

My son.