Elaine Hughes, Founder and CEO of E.A. Hughes & Co. has never followed an expected path. In her high school salutary speech, Elaine quoted Thoreau, “if man does not keep pace with his companions perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.” Elaine’s career started during her years at Hunter College where she combined her education with internships that included Tiffany & Co., The City of New York HRA, and Altman’s. In 1976 in an industry setting precedent, Elaine became the first woman to sell textiles for Springs Industries which also sponsored her for her MBA. Elaine went on to join the product team of Malden Mills and in 1983 was recruited to join a boutique recruitment firm serving the apparel and retail industry, Bader Hartley. In the 7 years Elaine remained there as a partner, she introduced them to a retained search process when she undertook the searches for the Presidents of a number of major textile mills, direct mail companies, and apparel firms.
In 1991, in the middle of another recession Elaine Hughes founded E.A. Hughes & Co. Her goal was to provide a thorough and professional process to the recruiting of mid to senior level executives in the fashion consumer products industry and all channels of distribution. Elaine wanted her firm and her associates to be recognized as the industry experts and to become the resource for both recruitment and career advice. In a service which promotes size as analogous to global reach, E.A. Hughes & Co. provides the same reach but with a high touch approach to all client engagements. Over the course of the past 23 years E.A. Hughes & Co. has been at the forefront of early stage recruiting for the most notable companies in the fashion/consumer industry. Many of these companies began with a small operational staff recruited by E.A. Hughes & Co. and have now grown in excess of one billion dollars. Elaine’s attitude has always been ‘less is more’ and therefore she and her team become employees of their client companies in order to understand the critical cultural issues required to achieve success in these companies. In other words, E.A. Hughes & Co. views each client as a unique entity.
Elaine is on the board of JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) and is a former Board Member of the Baseball Express Catalog Company (now known as Team Express Distributing, LLC) in San Antonio, Texas. She is also on the Board of the Charles F. Dolan School of Business of Fairfield University. She is a three-term board member of Women in Management, where, in the early 90’s she initiated two programs: The WIM Scholarship Fund, which offers financial assistance to women who are attending college, working and raising families, and the WIM Mentorship Program, which assists high school teenagers with positive role models from business. Elaine was named Entrepreneurial Woman of the Year in 1996 by the Fairfield County Girl Scout Council.
Elaine is a founding member of the New York Textile Group, formerly known as the New York Textile Board of Trade. She is a long-term member of Fashion Group where she initiated the membership incentive program and is a member of the American Apparel & Footwear Association. E.A. Hughes & Company was also represented for five years in the Educational Foundation Board of F.I.T. Elaine Hughes is also the search partner in the retail consulting business, The Grayson Company, founded by Bob Grayson, former CEO, Limited Stores.
Elaine is regularly quoted in a number of publications, including Women’s Wear Daily, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and Crain’s New York Business. She has sponsored both the WWD CEO Conference since 2003 as well as the Footwear Summit in 2012. She has been a featured speaker at numerous industry related events over the past 25 years.