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Name and title: Deborah Sorell Stehr, senior vice president and general counsel Age: 43 New footing: Iconix Brand Group Inc. owns, manages and licenses brands in footwear, jeans, evening gowns, sportswear, handbags, fragrance and eyewear. The New York company has 39 employees and posted 2005 revenue of $30.2 million. Founded in 1981 as Candie’s Inc., the company primarily was a manufacturer and retailer of trendy shoes marketed to teenage girls. Under a new business strategy launched in 2003, the company now focuses exclusively on licensing its multiple brands. Iconix disbanded its retail division, closing nearly 30 retail stores, eliminating many of its 200 employees along with its manufacturing and distribution operations. When the company made and sold Candie’s shoes, it also licensed the Candie’s name to fragrance, eyewear and handbag licensees. “And we always were looking at how licenses were just pure profit and we were fascinated by that,” said Stehr. That’s what inspired the new business model and name change to Iconix Brand Group in July 2005. Shares of the public company trade on Nasdaq. “One of the wonderful things about this model is we really have no inventory, operating or product risk,” said Stehr. Licensing the manufacture and distribution of the merchandise to third parties creates predictable revenue streams because the agreements guarantee minimum royalties. The company has recently acquired several additional brands and now owns, licenses and markets a portfolio including Joe Boxer, Badgley Mischka, Rampage and Mudd brands. A deal to acquire the Mossimo Inc. apparel brand is set to close in July. Acquiring and licensing a brand: “When you buy a company, you buy all the operations,” said Stehr, requiring “an enormous amount of due diligence” to examine all liabilities and assets. In purchasing only the intellectual property, by contrast, Iconix need only examine a brand’s contracts. The licensing takes different forms. In one traditional arrangement, brand names are licensed to companies that produce and distribute the merchandise. Like a hub and spoke, one brand can generate licenses for multiple product lines. In another form key to Iconix’s new focus, a brand name is licensed exclusively to a single retailer, which co-develops products across several retail categories. For example, many Candie’s products are sold exclusively at Kohl’s stores; Joe Boxer sportswear and other merchandise are available only at Kmart; the Mossimo apparel brand is exclusive to Target Corp. stores. Retailers have “the appetite for exclusive, proprietary brands,” Stehr said. “Kmart doesn’t want to sell what Target is selling. Target doesn’t want to be selling what Wal-Mart is selling. There is that hunger for retailers to distinguish themselves.” Central to the success of these deals is a close partnership with the retailer. A year ago, Kohl’s sold 18 product categories of Candie’s merchandise. After co-developing several new Candie’s lines, it sells 30 now, Stehr said. Route to the top: Stehr is one of the longest-serving employees at Iconix, having joined the company in 1998 as vice president and general counsel. A year later she was promoted to senior vice president. She had been associate general counsel with the women’s footwear company Nine West Group Inc. from 1996 to 1998. Before that, she was in private practice in corporate law and commercial litigation at Kronish Lieb Weiner & Hellman and O’Sullivan Graev & Karabell in New York, and in Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal’s Chicago office. Stehr began her career as a litigator, but after six years switched to corporate work. “I started to realize I was really more of a corporate lawyer at heart,” she said. “I loved the negotiation and the deal and the fact that you made your clients money.” Stehr was at Kronish Lieb when she made the switch. “I had litigated these licensing agreements. I had seen the way the language worked,” and what language became fodder for disputes. “It seemed to me at the time-and I still believe this-that there is no better way to learn how to draft a good agreement than having litigated the language.” Legal team and outside counsel: Stehr, who reports to Chief Executive Officer Neil Cole, was the company’s only in-house lawyer for more than seven years. She since has been joined by a legal assistant who also is the benefits manager, and by Andrew Tarshis, an associate counsel and senior vice president. Stehr and Tarshis handle all the licensing work in-house, dividing the brands between them. Stehr heads human resources operations, handles the day-to-day regulatory and corporate requirements of being a public company and negotiates financing arrangements. She oversees litigation and negotiates advertising agreements with various celebrities who promote the merchandise. Tarshis handles trademark work and brand acquisitions. Iconix relies on Blank Rome’s Philadelphia headquarters for litigation help and attorneys in its New York office for help with securities regulations, brand acquisition and financing-document drafting. “Some people feel it’s very important that you have a lot of different firms,” Stehr said. “I don’t believe in that. I’m a relationship person. I believe that the more somebody understands and knows your business and understands who you are and knows your history, I believe that’s when you get the best and most efficient and greatest legal work.” Fallout from the change: There is pending litigation in California stemming from the company’s shift away from manufacturing, Stehr said. A wholly owned subsidiary-Unzipped Apparel LLC-had operated the company’s jeans division. Iconix used a third party-Sweet Sportswear-to manage Unzipped Apparel. After Iconix terminated the arrangement with Sweet Sportswear and transferred operations to another third party, there was a “falling out” and the dispute ended up in court, she said. Personal: Stehr received her bachelor’s degree from Princeton University in 1984 and a law degree from Northwestern University in 1987. The New York native and her husband, Mark, have two children: Daniel, 4, and Julia, 2. She enjoys skiing, tennis and time with her family. Stehr sits on the board of Candie’s Foundation, which runs teen-pregnancy prevention campaigns. Last book and movie: Good to Great, by Jim Collins, and Cars.

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