Lillian Vernon is the founder and chief executive officer of Lillian Vernon Corp., a leading specialty catalog and online retailer that markets gift, household, kitchen, gardening, children's and Christmas products.
Born in Germany, Vernon fled to the United States with her family before the onset of World War II and settled in New York City. She started her company on her kitchen table in 1951, with $2,000 of wedding gift money, by placing a $495 advertisement for a personalized handbag and belt in Seventeen magazine. She received $32,000 in orders and her business was launched. Over the last 50 years, sales have grown to over a quarter of a billion dollars. Last year, the company received more than 4.8 million orders and employed more than 5,100 people during its peak season.
Vernon has donated funds and merchandise to more than 5,000 charities. She serves on the board of several nonprofit organizations, including the Lincoln Center, the Virginia Opera, and the Kennedy Center National Committee for the Performing Arts. Vernon has received several honors including induction into the Direct Marketing Associaiton Hall of Fame, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, the Big Brothers/Big Sisters National Hero Award, and the Gannett Newspapers Business Leadership Award. She resides in Greenwich, Conn., with her husband, Paolo Martino. She has two sons, Fred and David Hochberg.
Lillian Vernon Corp., listed on the American Stock Exchange (AMEX: LVC), is headquartered in Rye, N.Y. The company publishes eight catalog titles: Lillian Vernon, Favorites, Neat Ideas, Lilly's Kids, Lillian Vernon Gardening, Personalized Gift, Christmas Memories, and Super Sale. Lillian Vernon's online catalog can be found at www.lillianvernon.com.