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Interviewed on October 22, 2021

Interviewed by Yingying Zhu


Rebecca Fitts is the Direct of Real Estate at Leap, the omni channel retail platform for modern brands. Rebecca is a senior commercial and retail real estate business leader with over 15 years of experience on both developer and retail sides of the business, having worked for high profile industry players including Warby Parker, Westfield, Brookfield and General Growth Properties. Niche spans CRE, store concepts, innovative spaces, retail tech/platforms, urban hubs/neighborhoods, re-purpose/re-use, micro-retail, marketplaces and more. Rebecca holds a BA degree in Public Affairs from University at Albany, SUNY and a MS in Environmental Management & Policy from Rensselaer Poly Institute.

You have worked for a retail developer, a shopping center, retailers and now a creative operator. How does this diversified experience shape who you are today? I have seen the retail experience from a 360-degree view. Before I got into the developer side, I worked for retailers on the marketing and PR teams. I have never been prouder that I did my own pop-up shops and the feeling of walking into a store for the first time with a key in my hand is ingrained in me. It relates me to the retailers that I am working with today and drives me to push the boundaries of retail real estate to help more magic to happen.

There are a lot of conversations about retail and the metaverse right now which I'm interested in

How would you react to the industry myth that you can either have cool and hip brands that don’t pay or boring tenants that are not interesting, as a real estate veteran? It is a hard choice to make. But I would like to say the time is changing. Many landlords are looking proactively on how to work with emerging brands more easily and create a win-win situation. Macerich’s Brandbox and Hudson Yards’ whitebox programs are two great examples to accommodate DTC and other modern brands. It is proven that people love going there and the properties have become a destination of photos, which in turn creates a huge value for the landlords. On the other hand, once emerging brands, Warby Parker, Allbirds and Rent the Runway, all have become credited tenants, proving there is the best of both worlds if you take a longer term perspective.

What resources (podcast/book/or website) do you turn to for new ideas? I'm always looking for new ideas and brands - some of these are certainly considered the "usual" places like How I Built This podcast. I have a few books on my reading list that are related to retail, start-up life and business. Recommended by the founder of Leap, The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz, Make to Know by Lorne Buchman about the design of the Apple stores and Blue Ocean Strategy by W Chan Kim and Renee Mauborngne and I always enjoy reading short articles on Retail Brew, Lean Luxe and Fast Company.

What is the most creative retail-related idea that you have heard of recently? There are a lot of conversations about retail and the metaverse right now which I'm interested in - I'm also watching social retail (I think this has arrived but how will it evolve- I know I'm shopping and discovering things off of Instagram regularly they really have my number), also this idea of shopping through concierge appointments certainly has this feel of a QVC and how will that sector evolve.

Please name one or more female professionals that you think people should know more about. SO many! In no particular order - Soozan Baxter from Soozan Baxter Consulting, Jacqueline Fitch from Northwood Retail, Barrie Scardina from Cushman Wakefield, Megan Bates from Tapestry, Pamela Haber from Sweetgreen, Amy Higgins from the Taubman Company and Gabrielle Licht from Macerich, to name a few!

Edited and condensed for clarity.

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