SUN VALLEY, Idaho — Stacey Bendet Eisner, CEO and creative director of fashion brand Alice + Olivia, has attended the annual Allen & Co. conference at this mountain resort for more than 10 years. But this time around, she’s coming as the leader of a tech startup.
Bendet Eisner is the founder of Creatively, an online professional networking platform that aims to help connect freelancers who work in creative fields with prospective employers. The online gallery is designed to showcase portfolios and visual media for artists and others across a range of sectors, Bendet Eisner explains on the latest episode of Variety podcast “Strictly Business.”
Creatively is all business and not to be confused with a social network, she emphasized. The service is free for individual creatives to use; the monetization comes from companies that pay to post job listings and have deeper access to the site.
“It’s not a place for creatives to share pictures of their children or what cocktail they’re having or their political stance on A, B or C,” Bendet Eisner said. “It’s truly just a safe place for creatives to share their work, show their work, collaborate on their work and to find work.”
Creatively on Wednesday unveiled a new feature dubbed “Creatively Pay” that aims to accelerate the payment process for freelancers. The company has set a partnership with fintech firm Orum to end the 30- and 45-day wait times that many freelancers face after completing their work and waiting for invoices to pay out.
During the conversation, recorded from a coffee shop in Ketchum, Idaho, just down the road from the site of the Allen & Co. gathering, Bendet Eisner also discusses the growth of the Alice + Olivia brand and how it weathered the COVID storm. (“I feel like a fashion survivor this year”). She also offered her impressions about the value of bringing so many influential people together for a week every July for intellectual and recreational stimulation.
Although fashion-related topics are rarely on the agenda, Bendet Eisner said she has gained important perspective on leading and running a business by being in the exclusive rooms at the Sun Valley Lodge over the years.
“It’s sort of this very organic way to network,” she said. “There are so many partnerships and investments and big deals being made here.”
The Allen & Co. confab was famously the place where CEOs huddled to hatch media mega-mergers, including Disney’s 1996 acquisition of ABC and the AOL-Time Warner union in 2001. But big deals don’t always mean corporate transformations.
“There are so many smaller things that happen here in the world of philanthropy,” she said. “One year, (Facebook chief) Mark Zuckerberg met (New Jersey senator) Cory Booker and he decided to donate $100 million to schools in Newark. Those kinds of things really happen here.”
Bendet Eisner also made a point of sharing a bit of free post-pandemic style advice from a fashion pro as she noted that sales of business duds and dressy dresses have definitely picked up for Alice + Olivia in recent months.
“I do think it’s time to burn the sweatpants,” she said. “For all the ladies listening to this, it’s just — say goodbye.”
“Strictly Business” is Variety’s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of media and entertainment. New episodes debut every Wednesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher and SoundCloud.
(Stacey Bendet Eisner at the June 2021 “Pride Prom” event thrown by her Alice + Olivia fashion brand at Parrish Art Museum in the Hamptons)