Alexandra Wilkis Wilson knows the consumer knows best

Flight Templates are templated flights, or sets of questions, written by some of the world’s preeminent business leaders. With Flight Templates, Balloon users get unparalleled access to seasoned perspectives and proven business strategies across all areas of business, including leadership, product, marketing & sales, innovation, employee experience, culture, and more. This feature is part of a series on The Insight that profiles Balloon’s Flight Template authors.



In the world of lifestyle brands, perhaps no one knows the consumer better than Alexandra Wilkis Wilson.

“For nearly 15 years, focusing on the consumer has been the thematic throughline of my career,” Wilkis Wilson said. “I’ve always had the entrepreneurial bug, too, so my professional life has really been the combination of those two passions.”

In her early days working in sales and operations at luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Bulgari, the Harvard Business School alumna immersed herself in the fashion, beauty, and lifestyle spaces. As she watched her teams cater to consumers not unlike herself, Wilkis Wilson not only learned the finer details of how to run a business, but she also noticed the gaps where existing companies and products were failing to serve those customers—so she decided to address them herself. In 2007, she brought her entrepreneurial inclinations front-and-center and co-founded the luxury flash sale site

“Gilt was not only my introduction to e-commerce but also to entrepreneurship, startups, and real leadership,” Wilkis Wilson said. “And of course, it’s where I began to learn how to connect with the consumers in an extremely valuable way.”

Due in large part to how deeply Wilkis Wilson understood the customer she was serving, Gilt  grew exponentially. Wilkis Wilson said she would regularly reach out to local users to chat over coffee, invite them to company mixers, and genuinely listen to each piece of customer feedback, even (or perhaps most importantly) the critical ones. Her customers wanted to be heard, and she listened; within five years, the organization was bringing in more than $650 million in revenue.

By 2014, she was ready for her next challenge, so she co-founded her second company, GlamSquad, capitalizing on the emerging on-demand market led by companies like Uber and Postmates. At GlamSquad, which originally only offered in-home blowouts, Wilkis Wilson listened closely to her customers’ wants and needs, later expanding the company to include nail and makeup services. Three years later, the emerging mogul deepened her customer connection even further by founding the personal wardrobe consultation service Fitz.

“With GlamSquad and Fitz, I was able to understand the consumer behavior around how consumers decide what to buy, how they think about when to keep or get rid of items, and so on,” said Wilkis Wilson. “When you’re in someone’s closet, talking about what certain pieces mean to them, there’s a level of intimacy there. It really informed how I think about the customer, even as I moved into more strategic roles.”

After years of learning the nuances of consumer behavior, Wilkis Wilson began to bring her expertise to higher-level strategic roles in adjacent industries, and she made her first foray onto intrapreneurial teams, or startup-like programs within big companies. In 2018, Wilkis Wilson led the intrapreneurial team at Allergan, a biopharmaceutical company that focuses on aesthetic treatments like Botox, Juvéderm, and CoolSculpting, as a consumer strategy and innovation consultant.

“Working as an intrapreneur was an incredible experience,” said Wilkis Wilson. “We definitely had to strike a balance between innovating quickly and getting buy-in from the top level Allergan execs, but we also got the best of both worlds: The agility and autonomy of a startup, and the resources of a big corporation.”

With 15 years (and counting) of experience in business-building, consumer strategy, leadership, and intrapreneurship, Wilkis Wilson is expanding the reach of her expertise with two four-part flight template series, Build Your Consumer Strategy and Intrapreneurship: Build a Consumer Brand in a Legacy Company. The first series guides users through the consumer behavior and market research aspects of consumer strategy:

  • Understand Customer Wants and Needs
  • Customer Interview: Psychographic Segmentation
  • Market Research: Product/Service Usability
  • Market Research for Competitive Analysis

The second series builds on the first, taking the fundamental lessons from consumer strategy and applying them to an intrapreneurial setting:

  • Intrapreneurship Foundations and Goal-Setting
  • Intrapreneurship Brainstorm
  • Validating an Intrapreneurship Idea
  • Integrating Intrapreneurial Ideas into the Established Organization

Now, she’s adding yet another descriptor to her multi-hyphenate title: Investor. After Allergan was acquired by AbbVie in mid-2020, Wilkis Wilson joined forces with an experienced and talented partner, Lisa Meyers, and began her most recent venture, Clerisy, a private equity fund with a strong focus on consumer companies. While Clerisy’s portfolio reaches industries beyond beauty and lifestyle, Wilkis Wilson’s extensive experience allows her to offer her founders strategies that transcend consumer demographics—and makes her an exceptional investor, adviser, and partner.

“There are so many different consumer problems that still need to be solved and unmet needs that need to be fulfilled today,” said Wilkis Wilson. “The world has certainly changed since I started Gilt in 2007, but consumers still want to be heard. When I was an active founder and operator, we would ask our customers for feedback through a variety of formats—through social media, email, even in person at times—and we would listen when they gave us valuable input. I found that even when these customers would be critical, it was because the customers wanted our businesses to exist because they fulfilled certain needs of theirs. Give your customers the opportunity to be heard, and they just might come up with ideas that could add a lot of value to your business.”

Check out Alexandra Wilkis Wilson’s Flight Template Series

Entrepreneur and co-founder, Clerisy, Gilt Groupe, GlamSquad


Explore the Intrapreneurship series

Explore the Consumer Strategy series