This is the first installment of a recap series spotlighting the many great leaders and founders who have volunteered their time to speak with the 2021 Target Forward Founders Cohort.

This week, our Accelerators Forward Founders team invited the following leaders and founders to meet with our inaugural Target Forward Founders cohort as part of the program kick off. We first heard Brian Cornell, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Target Corporation.  He was joined by Kate Knight, VP of Innovation to moderate and a Q&A with the cohort.  He left the cohort with the advice to be life-long students.  From there, the cohort heard from Jaime Schmidt, Founder of Schmidt’s Naturals.  Jaime shared with the cohort, her own journey of being an entrepreneur from starting at local farmers markets to being available nationwide with multiple retailers.

On Day 2, we spent time with our Founders in Residence (read more about them here) to learn about their journey to retail.  Key takeaways inventory and supply chain is a big deal in retail.  More on that later in the program.  We ended the week with Pernell Cezar, Target Forward Founder Strategic Advisor learning the 101 of retail.  

Brian Cornell, Board Chairman and Chief Executive Officer 
Brian Cornell is board chairman and CEO of Target Corp. He is responsible for Target’s global business, including the company’s more than 1,900 U.S. stores, digital properties and more than 350,000 team members.
Cornell joined Target in August 2014 after more than 30 years in escalating leadership positions at leading retail and global consumer product companies, including three CEO roles and more than two decades doing business in North America, Asia, Europe and Latin America. His past experience includes time as both a vendor partner and a competitor to Target, and he brings insights from those roles to the company today.
Cornell currently serves as the non-executive chairman of the board of directors for Yum! Brands and is the Immediate Past Chairman of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA). He previously served as a director for other global brands, including The Home Depot and Polaris Industries.

Kate Knight, VP of Innovation 
Kate joined Target in January 2011. Since that time, she has held various positions in Merchandising, Strategy, Finance, and was first Chief of Staff to the Chief Merchandising Officer. In her current position as Vice President, Innovation, Kate leads the charge in driving the prioritization, exploration and activation for new growth at Target. Prior to this, she was the Vice President Services where she built a new pyramid, team and portfolio of Services with the goal of simplifying the Guest’s everyday life. This role provided a massive education on the intricacies of innovating and driving new initiatives at Target. Before Target, Kate spent time as an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Minnesota; ran an independent consulting practice focused on mid-size companies and P/E firms; and launched and ran two start-ups in the digital and consumer product categories.Kate received her BS from Boston College and her MBA from the Harvard Business School.In addition to her Target responsibilities, Kate enjoys being with her husband and four children and serves on the Board of Interfaith Outreach Community Partners.

Jamie Schmidt, Founder & Spokesperson of Schmidt’s 
Jaime Schmidt is an entrepreneur and the founder of Schmidt’s Naturals, a brand of natural personal care products that she started in her kitchen in Portland, Oregon in 2010. Jaime is known for modernizing natural personal care products, including the customer-favorite deodorant, and bringing them to the mainstream market. Under her leadership, Schmidt’s grew into a household name lining the shelves of retailers including Target, Costco, Whole Foods, Walmart and CVS across 30 countries. In 2017, Schmidt’s partnered with CPG giant Unilever, with Jaime continuing as the brand’s founder.

Jaime is the co-founder of Color, an investment portfolio that specializes in the consumer product industry, retail and ecommerce, brand positioning, and M&A. She is the author of “Supermaker: Crafting Business on Your Own Terms,” a personalized guide on how to put your business on the map, turning your passion into profit. Later this year, Jaime will serve as a mentor on Going Public, a new original series debuting on Entrepreneur Media that allows viewers to invest in IPOs.

Pernell Cezar, Co Founder of Blk & Bold Coffee
Pernell Cezar serves as the CEO and Co-Founder of Blk & Bold, the first-ever black-owned nationally distributed coffee that makes social impact a priority. He is also Managing Partner of Cezar Advisory Services, a boutique CPG growth advisory firm focused on sustainable growth of underserved consumer ecosystems. Pernell is an accomplished sales executive, successful entrepreneur and leader with more than 10 years of leadership success, significantly in retail.
His diverse portfolio which spans from Target, SheaMoisture and more highlights his ability to influence and build brands at scale whether start-ups or multinational brands. As a longstanding sales executive and packaged goods advisor, Pernell continues to change the way black-owned brands and consumer dollars are respected and supported by retailers.
Pernell takes much of his inspiration from his own upbringing where philanthropy and community programming helped his widowed mother take care of Pernell and his sister. Pernell earned his Bachelors in 2010 at University of Northern Iowa, with majors in Finance and Marketing

Alana Hinkston, Lead Pipeline Manager 
Alana Hinkston works on the Target Accelerator team as a Lead Pipeline Manager and has supported the Forward Founders program and Target Technology program. Starting her career at Target in 2015 as a Marketing Analyst, she has touched many areas of the business at Target such as loyalty, multicultural marketing, localization marketing, corporate responsibility, remodels and guest experience. Also, she was the communication lead of the Black employee resource group (AABC) as well as founder of their young millennials focus group (Glassbox). Alana holds a B.S. in Marketing and B.A. in Communication with a minor in retail from Santa Clara University.

The Target Forward Founders program management team thanks each of these leaders for their time sharing their knowledge with the cohort. In addition to these founders, the team would also like to give thanks and a big shout out to these internal Target team members who have helped jumpstart the program:

  • Christina Hennington 
  • Laysha Ward 
  • Maurice Cooper 
  • Kiera Fernandez 
  • Jill Sando 
  • Carolyn Sakstrup  
  • Jason Breen 
  • Justine Savarin 
  • Anne Kitchen 
  • Lisa Burtch 
  • Karen Tobler 
  • John Willoughby 
  • Frankie Neptune 
  • Keontay Jackson 
  • Colby Cartledge 
  • Bridget Blankenship 
  • Christopher Crammer 
  • Lauren Temple 
  • Shawn Darmody 
  • Tom Lorang 
  • Alanna Baker 
  • Louise Martin