Living in New York and working for luxury brands, Alexandra Wilkis Wilson loved to shop sample sales with her friend, Alexis Maybank, where they could nab amazing designer steals at 80 percent off retail.

Wouldn’t it be nice, they thought, if friends in cities like Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami could have access to such great deals, too?

So, with three other executives, they founded Gilt Groupe, an e-commerce company, and in November 2007 introduced what is considered the country’s first and largest luxury lifestyle flash sale web site.

“We sell high-end fashion for women, men and kids, food, wine, hotels, experiences,” said Wilson, who is now head of national sales for Gilt City ( “Our prices are fantastic, and we spend a lot of time curating what we are offering our members. We really have to believe in it. We’ve always been that way, and our members really appreciate that and trust us.”

Wilson, who has co-written the book By Invitation Only: How We Built Gilt and Changed the Way Millions Shop, will be in Miami on Tuesday to speak at the Commonwealth Institute South Florida’s 9th Annual Leadership Luncheon at Jungle Island.

“I hope to inspire this wonderful group of women in Miami to think about innovation and creativity and think about technology,” said Wilson, 35. “Everyone can think about entrepreneurship, whether they work in a big company and think about a new initiative or a new project, or think about starting something from scratch — a business or a nonprofit.”

Jodi Cross, executive director of the Commonwealth Institute South Florida, said Wilson’s tale of building her brand is just what her membership of primarily women entrepreneurs and senior executives want to hear.

“She has a really compelling story about being a pioneer in building a business in the online world, and was one of the first people to bring a whole business to that platform with the Gilt Groupe,” Cross said. “We like to bring in speakers who have done it and can tell their story about the lessons learned along the way and how they made it through to be a successful business and brand.”

Miami has performed a large section in Wilson’s existence. regardless that she grew up in the big apple, her mother is Cuban, and she or he has circle of relatives right here. As a child, she spent summers in Key Biscayne.

What’s more, Wilson was engaged on the beach here, and was married at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. She said she still spends at least six weeks a year here, and calls Key Biscayne her “happy place.”

“I’m very supportive of entrepreneurship in Miami because it is a city that is so important to me,” said Wilson, who has a 2½-year-old son and is expecting another baby in March. “Sometime in life I will live there full time.”

Wilson, who co-wrote her e book with Maybank, whom she first met in Portuguese magnificence when they were undergraduates at Harvard school, stated the idea for the e book was once to “percentage very in truth the ups and downs of beginning a trade,” and to inspire different girls.

“after we got started we to appear didn’t have a lot of ladies to appear up to in relation to having started tradees, so the environment for entrepreneurship, especially among women, has to seem improved in five years.”

previous to founding Gilt, Wilson oversaw retail operations at Bulgari, managing 15 North American retail outlets. ahead of that, she controlled leather items gross sales making plans for Louis Vuitton. She started her career working for 3 years in funding banking at Merrill Lynch, predominantly based in London. In among, she got an MBA from Harvard industrial faculty, the place she reconnected with Maybank, who went directly to work at eBay.

To launch Gilt, they teamed up with engineers and a 5th govt, Kevin Ryan, who is the chief executive.

“So it was a perfect group of 5 folks, with complementary talent units and individualistically, and in November 2007 our web page introduced,” she mentioned. For the primary 4½ years, Wilson was once the manager promotion officer.

as of late, Gilt has 1,000 workers, greater than 5 million contributors, and ships to 100 nations world wide.

Eberjey, a Miami manufacturer of undies, sleepwear and swimming wear, was once a few of the early brands featured on Gilt’s site. Wilson had approached Eberjey President Mariela Rovito at a business display, even beforehand the web page used to be introduced. on the grounds that then, Eberjey’s items had been presented at the website online about five times, stated Rovito, who describes Wilson as difficultworking, very vibrant and “a wonderful people particular person.”

“We make an effort not to do flash sales too often because we don’t want to dilute the full purchase price of the brand,” Rovito said. “But a little bit here and there is helpful. It helps us clear our inventory, and it exposes a lot of people to the product and brand.”