David Suliteanu, former CEO, Sephora Americas and current CEO of Kendo Brands
'Le Grand Cinq' was created in honor of David's 5 year Sephora anniversary
I've had the good fortune to work with some incredible Bay Area CEOs during my career as an executive assistant. This is the first in a series of miniatures that I crafted for some of my favorite Chief Executive Officers.
'Le Grande Cinq' was created as a gift for my former boss, David Suliteanu, in honor of his 5th Anniversary as the CEO of Sephora in 2005, when I was employed with the company as his executive assistant.
I remember spending a few weeks visiting wineries and San Francisco wine merchants, looking for the perfect wine box to house the street scene that would showcase many of the things that were very much David.
I wanted this miniature to include experiences that he truly enjoyed... like a great meal, (complemented with wine, of course!), signs of a quintessential American shopping experience (juxtaposed with the Sephora shopping experience), an abundance of his favorite champagne to be found in the shop just a few steps away, and of course, his beloved family pet.
Details that might not be noticed right away were top of mind for me as this three-dimensional story came to miniature life -
There's the "20% off" sale sign in the Krug-filled window of the wine shop to the right of the restaurant. (Krug NEVER goes on sale.)
There's also the restaurant name itself, which honors not only the anniversary year but it's a French restaurant, and a nod to Paris, one of David's favorite cities.
There are a total of five Sephora shopping bags gently sprinkled throughout the scene, each representing an anniversary year.
Lastly, there's a reflection in the window of a Sephora store that just happens to be located directly across the street from the restaurant.
What birthday gift can you possibly give to the CEO that has "everything?" The one that asks you year after year (in a slightly annoyed tone), not to make a big deal out of his birthday? To which you thoughtfully reply, "Sir, you're the CEO... when you're here in the office, your birthday isn't just about you... the team wants to celebrate with you. We owe them a celebration, so please just work with me on this."
With the assistance of one amazing Candance (Simms) Payne, you give your amazing CEO the surprise of a lifetime by arranging to have someone he deeply admires and respects, NBA All-Star Baron Davis (with the Warriors in 2008), sign a basketball jersey and then show up to wish him "Happy Birthday!" (I wish I had the presence of mind to hire a professional photographer for this event but I was too busy worrying that Baron might not make it. We barely pulled it off!) I did have my husband and my son in attendance, which was nothing short of awesome! David was blown away, which is no easy task!
Working at Sephora was transformative, and I truly enjoyed the rigor of my role as David's executive assistant. It was here that I came to understand the responsibility and gravity of being at the right hand of a world-class CEO.
There was always so much to do and so many opportunities to learn... and to do more! I truly believe that the amount of focus, persistence, and fearlessness that were required actually helped push my skills as a miniaturist to a new level.
We worked with unbridled tenacity, in an environment where the bar consistently felt like Mount Everest... thanks to David!
The work was challenging and incredibly rewarding, and along the way, we grew to be a phenomenal team as we shared many wonderful and unforgettable experiences and milestones together.