From cosmetics diva to private equity investor, this Astros partner shares roadmap to success
Janet Gurwitch might have left behind her hometown in Mississippi and her classmates at the University of Alabama some years ago, but she retains enough Southern graces combined with an astute business acumen to gladly accept the moniker of "steel magnolia."
The Deep South congeniality has served her well on the way up the fashion world ladder and in her own business endeavors. As executive vice president at Neiman Marcus in the early '90s she was on the path to becoming the luxury retailer's CEO. Instead, she headed in her own direction, founding and serving as CEO of Houston-based Laura Mercier Cosmetics, which she developed into a leading global brand with sales of $120 million. In 2006, she sold the company to Alticor and was off and running into other arenas.
Directing part of her focus to Houston, Gurwitch joined Jim Crane as a partner in the Houston Astros and signed on to the advisory board of Rice University's business school. She lectures at both Rice and the University of Houston as well as at her alma mater in Tuscaloosa.
Today, the woman, who describes work as her golf game, is an operating partner at the private equity firm Castanea Partners, based in Boston. She shares her business expertise as a board member for Drybar and La-Z-Boy Inc.