Meet The Man Behind The Rise of Victoria’s Secret PINK
By Brittany Hutson
Not very many men have a great deal of knowledge about a woman’s bra, but Richard A. Dent III admits that he knows more than any man probably needs to know. He knows all about cup sizes. He knows all of the different parts that go into the making of a bra. He knows what happens when lace is added to a bra. He knows when it’s appropriate for a woman to wear a strapless bra, push-up bra, demi bra or halter bra.
Mulling over details about women’s lingerie is nothing unusual for Dent. It is a fundamental element of his everyday conversation as the chief operating officer of Victoria’s Secret PINK, the billion-dollar loungewear brand that is under the umbrella of the $10 billion conglomerate, Limited Brands. Limited Brands is the parent company of some of retail’s popular brands in lingerie, beauty and personal care, including Victoria’s Secret and Bath and Body Works.
Today, Victoria’s Secret PINK stands as a top lifestyle brand targeting college girls, but seven years ago, PINK was the little cousin of Victoria’s Secret—a new sub-brand that was being tested in one store in Columbus, OH. For a young man who originally had plans to be a top executive in the automobile industry, being assigned the task of building a women’s brand was unexpected at first but it was the sort of opportunity that was befitting for the zealous professional.
The West Philadelphia native originally had other plans for his career. Growing up, he had aspirations of becoming a shooting guard for the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team. Though he spent a lot of time working on his skills, eventually, Dent acknowledged that a career in basketball wasn’t meant for him. “At some point I realized that I didn’t have the height nor the athletic ability to make that a reality,” he said.
It wasn’t until the summer of junior year in high school that Dent discovered that his passion was in business, not sports. For four weeks, he was a participant of the University of Michigan’s School of Business program called LEAD. The program selects African American, Hispanic and Native American high school students to participate in summer business institutes at graduate business schools, such as the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and the Tuck School at Dartmouth College. The schools immerse the participants in finance, marketing and entrepreneurship.
“What I liked about business was the notion of taking an idea, turning it into something and creating a demand for it,” he said. “Business in corporate America was intriguing to me. It’s different from say Wall Street where at the end of the day you haven’t really made anything but money.”