Neil Cole is a pioneer in the licensing and brand management industry. For over 30 years Cole has acquired, managed, grown, and marketed a portfolio of brands. Today, Cole is the Chief Executive Officer, Chairman and President of Iconix Brand Group, Inc.
Cole began his career at El Greco, Inc., the footwear company that launched the globally recognized junior brand, Candie's. In 1986, Cole founded New Retail Concepts, Inc., which he served as Chairman of the Board and President of the licensing company. In later years, Cole sold New Retail Concepts and bought back El Greco, Inc., merging the two companies to form Candie's, Inc.
In 2005, Cole spearheaded the revolutionary transition of Candie's, Inc. to Iconix Brand Group, Inc. transforming the company from an operating entity to a brand management company. Under Cole's strong leadership, Iconix has acquired over 30 brands in eight years creating a diversified and powerful portfolio of women's, men's, home and entertainment brands.
Iconix licenses its brands to a network of leading retailers and manufacturers that touch every major segment of retail distribution from the luxury market to the mass market in both the United States and worldwide. With its innovative marketing, the Company creates brand awareness and equity for its 33 iconic consumer brands: Candie's, Mudd, Bongo, Mossimo, Danskin, London Fog, Op, Badgley Mischka, Material Girl, Joe Boxer, Rampage, Buffalo David Bitton, Starter, Rocawear, Ecko Unltd., Zoo York, Icecream, Marc Ecko Cut & Sew, Umbro, Ed Hardy, Artful Dodger, Billionaire Boys Club, Lee Cooper, Modern Amusement, Waverly, Cannon, Royal Velvet, Charisma, Fieldcrest, Sandra by Sandra Lee, Sharper Image & Peanuts.
Forbes Magazine has credited Iconix Brand Group as one of "The Best Small Companies In America" and License Magazine has ranked Iconix the second largest licensing Company in the world, following Disney Consumer Products. Iconix Brand Group continues to grow with $13 billion in global annual retail sales. The unique brand management business model positions Iconix as a pioneer in the industry with specialization in licensing, marketing and brand management.
In 2001, Cole founded The Candie's Foundation, a non-profit organization that works to educate America's youth about the devastating consequences of teenage pregnancy and creates a national dialogue on the issue. Cole is on the Board of the following organizations: Governor Cuomo's Sage Commission, Complex Media, The Mount Sinai Children's Center Foundation, Crutches 4 Kids and Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School, Iconix Brand Group and The Candie's Foundation. Cole received a Bachelor of Science degree in political science from the University of Florida in 1978 and his Juris Doctor from Hofstra law school in 1982.
David Blumberg has served as our Head of Strategic Development since February 2009 and has served as our Executive Vice President – Head of Strategic Development since August 2009. Since April 2014, Mr. Blumberg has also served as our Interim Chief Financial Officer. From November 2006 through January 2009, Mr. Blumberg served our company as a full-time consultant overseeing our merger and acquisition activities. Prior to joining our company as a consultant, during 2005 through October 2006, Mr. Blumberg worked as a consultant to LF Management Ltd., an affiliate of Li & Fung Limited/ LF USA. Prior to joining Li & Fung, from January 1997 to November 1999, Mr. Blumberg was president and managing director-investment banking of Wit Capital, Inc., an online investment bank. From 1981 to 1993, Mr. Blumberg was a managing director and senior vice president of Merrill Lynch Interfunding Inc. and Merrill Lynch Capital Markets- Investment Bank, respectively. Mr. Blumberg received a Bachelor of Science, cum laude in economics from Colgate University in 1981 and a Masters degree in business administration in corporate finance from New York University in 1987.
Jason Schaefer has served as our Executive Vice President and General Counsel since joining our company in September 2013. From May 2008 until September 2013, Mr. Schaefer served as General Counsel of Pegasus Capital Advisors, L.P., a private equity fund. From March 2006 to May 2008, he advised on merger and acquisition transactions in both the private and public space at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld LLP. Prior to that time, Mr. Schaefer was an associate in the corporate group of Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton and Garrison LLP, an international law firm. Mr. Schaefer received his Juris Doctor, cum laude, from Brooklyn Law School in 2001 and a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University at Buffalo in 1996.
Dari Marder has been working for the Company in various creative capacities since its inception. Ms. Marder began her career with Neil Cole in 1987 as Director of Advertising and Public Relations for New Retail Concepts, Inc. She has been the creative force behind several notorious campaigns including the Donna Rice endorsement for "No Excuses" jeans and Jenny McCarthy's controversial time spent on the toilet advertising Candie's slides. Ms. Marder currently serves as Chief Marketing Officer. She graduated from The Fashion Institute of Technology and began her career at Playboy Enterprises in the role of assistant to the Fashion Editor of Playboy Magazine. Ms. Marder is one of the founders of The Candie's Foundation, a public charity dedicated to educating teens about the consequences of teen pregnancy. For more information on Dari Marder, please contact her preferred publicist, her mother.
Lanie List has served as our Chief Merchandising Officer since July 2010. Additionally, she plays a key role in operating the MG Icon joint venture with Madonna formed in early 2010. Prior to this, Mrs. List served as our Executive Vice President, Merchandising since August 2009 and has held various titles in our trend and merchandising division since joining the company in May 2004. Mrs. List began her career in the retail sector, holding various positions within the Target Corporation in planning, buying, product development and trend. Mrs. List graduated summa cum laude from the University of Notre Dame with a Bachelor's degree in Liberal Arts.
Leigh Anne Brodsky has served as Managing Director of Peanuts Worldwide, a joint venture with the family of Charles M. Schulz, and Iconix Entertainment since January 2013. In her role, Ms. Brodsky oversees the global business for the Peanuts property, including the launch of the recently announced 2015 feature film from Twentieth Century Fox and Blue Sky Studios. She is also integral in the development of the Iconix Entertainment division and seeking out properties for the Company's growing portfolio of brands. A licensing professional for more than 20 years, she has been recognized by the industry for her leadership and expertise. In 2011, Ms. Brodsky was selected for induction into the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Association's (LIMA) Hall of Fame, which honors a very select group of licensing veterans who have made unique and outstanding contributions to the business. Brodsky is a past Advertising Age"Marketing of the Year" award-winner and a twice-elected member of the LIMA Board of Directors, the licensing industry's governing body where she serves on its charity fund-raising committee. From 1999-2011, Brodsky oversaw Nickelodeon Consumer Products, and was named President of the division in 2006. In this role, she oversaw parent company Viacom's global licensing and merchandising business, which also included MTV, Comedy Central, Nick at Nite, TV Land and Spike TV. Brodsky built Nickelodeon Consumer Products into the world's number-one TV-based licensing business. Under her leadership, Nickelodeon became a multi-billion-dollar (at retail) licensing entity and garnered more than 40 industry awards including top licensing and Parents' Choice Awards honors in the toy, video, interactive gaming and apparel categories. During her tenure, she was responsible for acquiring such properties as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Beatrix Potter. Brodsky has negotiated major licensing and retail deals with the industry's top brands including: Mattel, Fisher-Price, Target, Walmart, American Greetings, Kraft, Toys 'R Us, Hallmark, and many more. She graduated cum laude from the College of the Holy Cross.