Preface (Pre•face)

KelliRae Sebwe

KelliRae Sebwe


  • Know what they want before they do.
  • Well read. Well said. Well aware.
  • Play nice. Enjoy. Repeat. Play nice. Enjoy. Repeat.
  • Ask with respect and respect the answer.
  • Get busy doing and doing and doing.
  • Drive profitable sales where everyone wins.
  • Engage curiosity via active observation.
  • Authenticate + Validate + Substantiate = Celebrate.

  • Not having a strategy is a strategy.
  • Cultural intimidation limits innovation.
  • Negatives nullify, not nurture.
  • Fear destroys creativity.
  • Leaving it up for interpretation promotes ambiguity.
KelliRae wants to get things done and not spend a lot of time talking about them – she is a woman of action. She collaborates very well and comes up with creative solutions for problems and focuses on outcomes – learning outcomes for students and profitable outcomes for business.
John Schulz
Academic Director | Retail Professional
The Art Institutes International Minnesota


  • Fashion Group International

    Professional Member
  • University of Minnesota: Retail Connect

    Industry Supporter
  • Conde Nast | Fairchild Fashion Media

    Manuscript Reviewer
  • Ignite Minneapolis


KelliRae Sebwe subscribes

to the idea that fashion is anything that is temporarily accepted and celebrated, only to be rejected and replaced by something else. Based on this philosophy, she continues to explore her passion for futurology and prides herself on innovative trend observation and analysis. She enthusiastically engages the creative concept to completion process by utilizing her strategic skills in designful thinking, trend forecasting, dynamic imaging and high-impact brand management.

Sebwe brings over 18 years of corporate retail merchandising and design experience to her classroom and clients. Her professional work includes multimillion-dollar experiences with Target Corporation’s department store division, Jones New York’s apparel group, and Wal-Mart’s stores. Her main focus is always to drive and deliver profitable sales.

She has served as a full-time college instructor in Fashion & Retail Management at The Art Institutes International Minnesota since 2008. Her primary responsibilities include developing curriculum, lesson plans, syllabi and classroom policies. She assesses the results of stimulating lectures and learning centered activities via comprehensive exams and industry standard projects. Sebwe’s extremely creative teaching techniques include engaging advanced organizers, industry guests, coaching professionalism, real world experiences, current pop culture topics, and good humor.

Over the years, Sebwe has become a communications and presentation expert. Her entertainment experience includes live vocal performance, KLBB AM1220 on-air radio personality, professional spokesperson and promotional voiceover work. Her public speaking and seminar addresses are dynamic, passionate, insightful and always delivered with ease.

Most recently, Sebwe has combined her unique mix of skills and strengths in retail merchandising, product design and development, higher education and performance to launch Sebwe Strategy, a results-focused consulting firm located in Minneapolis, Minnesota.


Argosy University

Pittsburgh, PA

MS Management:

University of Wisconsin

Madison, WI

BS Apparel Design | Consumer Science:

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Fork Knife



Quick Sweet ‘n Sour Dressing Recipe

  • 4 T sugar
  • 2 T poppy seeds
  • 2 t salt
  • ½ t pepper
  • 4 T cider vinegar
  • ½ C olive oil

Toss on a chop-chop salad of shredded iceberg lettuce, diced chicken, green onion, slivered almonds, and chow mien noodles.




Must Read

Exercises in Style by Raymond Queneau

Published 1947, France

The plot is simple: a man gets into an argument with another passenger on a bus. However, this anecdote is told 99 more times, each in a radically different style, as a sonnet, an opera, in slang, and with many more permutations. This virtuoso set of variations is a linguistic rust-remover, and a guide to literary forms.

Experience (Ex•pe•ri•ence)

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Fast, Fun and Friendly Target Team Member 1997-2006)

Fast, Fun and Friendly Target Team Member 1997-2006)

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Merchant Vision

  1. Deliver clear, focused, trended and exciting assortments through PRODUCT LEADERSHIP.
  2. Insure that we are THE BEST STORE IN TOWN.
  3. Driving regular prices business and always being GUEST FOCUSED.

Merchant Strengths

  • Achievement Orientation
  • Analytical Thinking
  • Communication Skills
  • Developing Others
  • Impact and influence
  • Initiative
  • Self Confidence
  • Strategic Orientation
  • Teamwork and Cooperation
  • Team Leadership
  • Vendor Management

The Little Black Dress

Two strong selling styles quickly turned into an eight style replenishment business to maximize on the success of the Matte Jersey Dressing Program. Engaging patterns and prints went back to solid black separates.

As Scene On TV

Did you see Wheel Of Fortune’s season 19, filmed in May 2002 at Navy Pier In Chicago? A contestant was spotted wearing an exclusive 111 State floral printed sweater that was part of my exclusive modern lifestyle assortment.





Senior Business Analyst

March 1997May. 2000

RTW Bridge
Marshall Field’s-Target Corporation

Appropriately assorted and distributed merchandise using Target Corporation systems including Info Retriever. Analyzed specific store needs down to the sku level. Ensured the 5 Rights of Retail: right product, right price, right promotion, right quantity, right location. Provided buyers with sales history models and suggested assortment templates. Managed product flow from reserve stock. Collections included: Anne Klein, Dana Buchman, Eileen Fisher, Elie Tahari, Ellen Tracy, Emanuel.


May 2000Oct. 2001

RTW Contemporary
Marshall Field’s-Target Corporation

Responsible for financial planning, managing the open-to-buy, driving profitable sales, product selections, vendor negotiations, internal marketing, in-store events and designer personal appearances, promotional planning, merchandise presentation guidelines, entrance and exit strategies. Collections included: DKNY, Kenneth Cole, Nine West, 111 State.

Excerpt from Leadership Reward and Recognition:

KelliRae has changed the fit, added 16’s and XL’s, upgraded the quality, changed the segmentation and pricing strategy. Her business is running +26% to LY with +40% in regular price business! KelliRae’s contagious passion and drive will take her businesses to new profitable heights!
Anne Sterling
Senior Buyer
Bridge Collections, Marshall Field’s

Measurable Results

1997-2001 Financials

Positive growth shown as percent increases to LY

1997 1998 1999 2000 2001
Sales $ to LY +2% +10% +2% +82% +20%
Contribution % to LY +10% +25% +9% +74% +54%
Contribution $ to LY +12% +37% +7% +1% +95%
Turnover to LY +3% +5% +4% +1% +1%

111 State RTW 2001 - Owned Brand Business

Maximizing Assortments

  • 19% Graphic


    Reg Sales $ to LY

  • $347k Graphic


    GM $ to LY

  • -25% Graphic


    OO $ to LY

  • -11% Graphic


    AVG INV to LY

Driving Profitable Sales

T Shirt Mini +185k
T Shirt Mini = 1,000 Units
$ $ $ $ $ $ +95% GM $ to LY
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GM $ to LY

Product Development

Experience Menu
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French Leggings

image credit: Annmarie O'Connor

Colette is a concept store in Paris that’s always on my shopping list. I remember these three chic Parisian ladies hanging outside, looking cool, waiting to be discovered. What the global market discovered was the leggings that they were wearing. The next year the US market was saturated!

Trend Watch

After 911, Target Corporate travel was severely limited. KelliRae was honored in October 2001 when asked to be only 1 of 2 team members to trend shop Paris. Her “What’s Hot in Paris” trend guide earned her additional respect as a strategic thinker and strong merchant.

80’s 2-Ply

The world's standard for better corporate 100% cotton pinpoint oxford shirts. 80's weight thread is finer (weaving finer fabric) than the coarser 40's weight (non-pinpoint) oxford. 2-Ply means that two 80's weight threads spindled together to "double reinforce" the all cotton fabric.


In September 2004, Cargo magazine, a shopping guide for men, featured the Gene Meyer waffle stitch cashmere crew sweater in orange flame, style #106244, $128.00 retail. It’s was paired with a black tech stretch Prada pant.







Senior Designer

October 2001April. 2005

Gene Meyer
Marshall Field’s-Target Corporation

Worked directly with external design partner, Gene Meyer. Responsible for designing and launching all business categories: RTW and Men’s Sportswear, Dress Shirts, Neckwear, Women’s and Men’s Cold Weather Accessories. Lead team of designers to develop a profitable modern brand. Developed design strategies to incorporate the buyer’s objectives, sourcing criteria, guest expectations and Gene Meyer’s vision. International travel for trend research and sourcing included: Europe, Asia, Middle East.

Design Manager

April 2005March. 2006

Field Gear/Marshall Fields/Gene Meyer
Marshall Field’s-Target Corporation

Responsible for overseeing development of all business categories: Men’s Sportswear, Dress Shirts, Neckwear, Women’s and Men’s Cold Weather Accessories, Gene Meyer RTW. Lead a team of 15 designers at varying skill levels to successfully manage and complete projects using the Target Corporation Timing and Action Calendar. Served as liaison between Product Development & Design, Technical Design, Target Sourcing Services, Trend and the Executive Buying teams. Lead product and strategy meetings. Ensured total brand integrity including: design of appropriate trend right product, color palettes, prints and patterns, fabric and construction choices, expression of fit, suggested retail. Developed marketplace entrance strategies for new brands and special offerings. Partnered with Marketing, Visual Merchandising and Store Events teams to promote the owned brand business.

KelliRae is without reservation, the most creative, dynamic and impactful leader I've ever had the pleasure of working with. Her awareness of the changing needs of our businesses was amazing and exceptionally well-communicated and strategized.
RTW Designer
Gene Meyer
Marshall Field's
KelliRae truly works as a team player with everyone to ensure the success of the brand - including her attention to product details, maximizing her relationship with others to work more effectively.
Pauli Payne
Design Manager – Product Design & Development
Target Corporation

Marshall Fields Men’s Product

Gene Meyer Men’s Product


Experience Menu


March 2008 – current

Fashion & Retail Management
The Art Institutes International

Lead faculty member in one the college’s largest baccalaureate programs.

Course instruction includes: Merchandise Management, Consumer Behavior, Trends & Concepts in Apparel, Fashion Journalism, Portfolio, Apparel Evaluation & Construction, Current Designers, Fashion History.

Primary responsibilities include: curriculum development, lesson plans, syllabi and classroom policies; develop comprehensive exams and assignments; provide stimulating activities and lectures.

Extremely creative teaching techniques include: advanced organizers, industry guests, learning centered focus, real world experiences, current pop culture topics, and good humor.

Additional responsibilities include: Peer Faculty Advisor to adjunct FRM instructors, Faculty Advisor to Fashion Forward student club, Industry Educational Trip Organizer including student trips to MAGIC in Las Vegas and Fashion Week in NYC, Respected Prolector Guest Speaker and expert in RWIPP (Real World Industry Project Partnerships), FRM Summer Studio High School Program Instructor. Actively serves on Library Committee and Community Presence Committee.

Students via the IDEA survey, colleagues, and college management consistently give positive feedback regarding strong performance and high standards.

You were able to weave a review of terminology and concepts into the discussion, thus making connections with previous learnings. Students were engaged in the class, as was I.
Dean of Academic Affairs
The Art Institutes International Minnesota
Her expectations for her students are the highest, yet her methods of communicating those standards are clear and readily understood. As a collaborator and mentor, KelliRae has taught me to be more effective in my own teaching practice.
Faculty - Retail Merchandising and Management
University of Wisconsin - Stout
KelliRae, I have learned so much from having you as a teacher, leader, mentor, and friend, which will be applied to my career in the fashion and retail industry now and in the years to come.
Merchandise Specialist
Target Corporation

RWIPP (Real World Industry Project Partnerships)

RWIPP student contract

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  1. Real world industry projects has been incorporated into this course as part of the RWIPP initiative.

  2. You will be asked to sign a work release form. This releases your creative contributions, allowing the industry partner to use them for their benefit.

  3. Your work will be shared with industry professionals and businesses. In exchange, these industry partners will provide actual current business projects, valuable feedback, and industry networking opportunities.


Leveraging years of industry connections provides students with exclusive opportunities to gain hands-on industry experience and offers the industry a unique perspective on our future retail leaders. All parties involved must agree to binding terms.

The Jessica Simpson puffer coat

The Jessica Simpson puffer coat

Maria Pesin, Division President for Jessica Simpson Coats, licensed by the Camuto Group to Fleet Street Ltd., provides students with authentic industry challenges.


Jessica Simpson Outerwear asked FRM4495 Trends & Concepts in Apparel students to research new trends and developments in the down-trending ski puffer coat category including fabrics, colors, details, and style. They were asked to answer the ultimate trend forecasting question, “What would they do to make it new and fresh in order to revitalize it for the Jessica customer?”


The student’s hard work and relentless research and validation allowed them to present a new idea to Jessica Simpson’s people – the plaid puffer!


To date, Jessica Simpson Outerwear had only offered solid colors to their customers. Let’s jump to the end of the story - one year after the students presented their forecast to the Jessica Simpson Outerwear division - Macy’s had a Jessica Simpson women’s plaid puffer proudly displayed on their sales floor! And I heard it did really well for them.

FRM3455 merchandise management case study

The Jessica Simpson puffer coat

The Challenge:

Student teams take on the roles of buyer and planner and develop an Assortment Plan, 6-month Sales Plan and Purchase Order for a national department store.

Step #1

The Assortment Plan guides merchandising functions and builds the foundation to maximize sales and profits.

Step #2

The teams develop a 6-Month Sales Plan as the dollar control budget and articulate the strategies impacting the components of Sales, Stocks, Markdowns and On Order (Open-to-Buy).

Step #3

The final component is building a Purchase Order committing to product, price, time and quantities, which will maximize profits through effective management of purchase markup.

Course Development

The Art Institutes International Minnesota Library Committee

Industry Resource Chair since 2011

The IDEA Center

2008 - 2012 Excellent Teacher 4.7/5.0 Average Rating

Quarterly IDEA Ratings


Experience Menu

Seminars & Public Addresses


Consulting (Con•sult•ing)

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Sebwe Strategy

Confident Forward-Thinking Progression:

We believe in providing opportunities for positive results for everyone involved by creating advantageous win-win strategies that center around our client’s experience. In order for you to achieve success, we must determine where you are headed and always move in that direction. Successful people move, and we move quickly. Our sharp focus ensures that every move is highly calculated to bring you closer to your goals.


  • Business Mentorship
  • Brand Management
  • Innovative Leadership
  • Talent Solutions
  • Trend Analysis
  • Product Research & Development
  • Educational & Training Materials
  • Public Speaking & Seminar Addresses

Let’s Begin!

The Initial Consulting Experience

  • Step #1 Let’s Meet!

    We will welcome the opportunity to meet with you face-to-face or virtually.

  • Step #2 Let’s Talk!

    We will set up a complimentary 60-minute consultation session. During our informational conversation, we will begin assessing your specific needs and start to anticipate your unique opportunities.

  • Step #3 Let’s Strategize!

    We will analysis your situation, begin the research process and provide you with written project proposals.

  • Step #4 Let’s Partner!

    You will decide if our project proposals sound like viable business strategies. There’s no obligation to proceed, but if you do choose to move forward with Sebwe Strategy, just be prepared to move quickly!

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If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it. If you don't ask, the answer is always no. If you don't step forward, you're always in the same place. NORA ROBERTS
American bestselling author


Most knowledge and much of genius lie behind the selection of what is worth observing. MARIA POPOVA
Blogger | Founder


The art of effective listening is essential to clear communication, and clear communication is necessary to management success. JAMES CASH PENNEY
Founded J.C. Penney in 1902


The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious. JOHN SCULLEY
Former President of PepsiCo
Former CEO of Apple









Client Deliverable Examples

Lifestyle boutique project proposals

National manufacturer research projects

International talent brand development

Contact (Con•tact)

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KelliRae Sebwe

If you like what you see

and want to talk shop, let’s connect. I know I’ve got at least one or two more good ideas in me. This old dog just keeps learning new tricks and loving it!

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All true Minnesotans must have a favorite food on a stick. The Cheese-On-A-Stick. Enjoy with yellow mustard (serving suggestion).

  • Cals: 533
  • Carbs: 34
  • Fat: 34


Button Marketing Slogans:

LA CANVAS teamed up with PROJECT MVMNT August 19-21, 2013 to curate a media lounge and gathering space for the movers-and-shakers of PROJECT MVMNT to kick back and share their insight, all from a cozy vintage trailer. Photobooth pictures by Tommy B.






Web Design/Development

Derrin Evers

Postscript (Post•script)

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Consider this series

of short notes as an online personal journal with reflections, experiences, factoids, and often hyperlinks. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 1st 2013

“Stuff” I Learned

Devil Wears Prada

I’ve learned many invaluable lessons from many incredible leaders.  Some lessons were harder to learn than others, and some lessons were just plain hard to learn .  As a college instructor, I often use storytelling to convey my lessons.  In The Devil Wears Prada, Meryl Streep delivers a sly and telling soliloquy, “You Think This Has Nothing to Do With You”.  Infact, I do believe there’s a bit of real-world truth to it.


p.s.  It’s worth a watch – The Devil Wears Prada 2006

Sunday, September 1st 2013

Virtual Trend Travels

Lavish Squalor

I’ve got my eyes on an urban retail and street fashions hub at 253 West Queen Street, Toronto, Ontario.  It’s a must-stop shop for my eAdventures.  Primarily, I love supporting independent retailers who are doing it right.  And by all online accounts, Lavish & Squalor does it right.  They describe themselves as, “One of Toronto’s coolest, independent style destinations, L&S was born and raised on inspiring and edgy street fashions, vintage finds and truly authentic heritage brand followings. We like to live curiously and share in the current lifestyle of the more eclectic and curious local and visiting urban shopper.” Until my next Canadian trip, my virtual trend travels continue.


p.s. I also really admire British fashion retailer, AllSaints.
All Saints


Thursday, August 1st 2013

Show Excitement or Emotion

“Interjection” is a big name for a little word. They’re short exclamations that express excitement or emotions. You might use an interjection to express surprise (Wow!), confusion (Huh?), or outrage (No!).  Sometimes onomatopoeic words may be used as interjections; most interjections do not imitate sounds. Contrarily, onomatopoeic words, such as “buzz” or “boom,” always mimic the noises to which they refer.  Either way, I just like to call them “zingers!”


p.s. Interjections! is a Schoolhouse Rock song!