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Skidmore College

Vineyard Vines founder, alum Shep Murray, to lecture

April 20, 2010

Vineyard Vines founder, alum Shep Murray, to lecture

A Skidmore alumnus who leads a thriving specialty retail business will visit campus Wednesday, April 21, to meet with students and give a public talk.

MurrayShepherd Paul ("Shep") Murray, who earned a degree in business from Skidmore in 1993, will discuss " Entrepreneurship and the Growth of Vineyard Vines, " at 6 p.m. in Davis Auditorium, Palamountain Hall.   Admission is free and open to the public.

Vineyard Vines is known for its preppy ties and distinctive clothing, as well as an array of gift items.   Sales are transacted via catalog, the company's web site, and in 12 stores in locations stretching from Martha's Vineyard, Mass., to Estero, Fla.

Murray will share the history of how his time at Skidmore prepared him for a life of entrepreneurship, and how he and his brother founded and have grown the company. He will also share career advice.

In interview earlier this year, Murray explained how he and his brother settled on the essential idea that led to the founding of the company.   They both wanted to escape the New York City advertising jobs that they disliked.   Both wanted to spend more time on Martha's Vineyard, where they had vacationed throughout their childhood.   And both hated wearing tie - especially boring ties.

One has only to browse Vineyard Vines' Facebook page - which as of early March counted more than 12,000 fans - to get a sense not only of the cheerful rapport that the Murray brothers have succeeded in establishing with their customers, but also their commitment to worthy causes. In their new "Tied to a Cause" program, for example, they produce custom ties, tote bags and other items for their favorite charities and donate to those organizations all proceeds from the sale of those items. The first with whom they're partnering in this way is the Waterkeeper Alliance, the advocacy organization founded by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. to protect water from polluters.

"It really has been rewarding," says Murray, who resides with his wife Margo and three children in Stamford, Conn. when not on the Vineyard.   "I get to wake up every morning, drive my kids to school, and create a product that people love. I work with great people, we have great customers, and it's awesome to be able to make people happy."


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