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Q&a designer nanette lepore has a fortitude for fashion and money


Long before fashion designer Nanette Lepore was selling her wares to Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdales, she was dressing her neighbors in Youngstown, Ohio. Her best 9-year-old look involved a floral bedspread, beaded choker and face paint. Lepore eventually moved to New York and launched her own line (this site), which the 52-year-old runs with husband Robert Savage, a former painter who is now her company's president. Lepore chatted with Reuters for its "Life Lessons" series about what she has learned along the way in her career about money. Q: What early lessons about money stuck with you?A: I grew up in a big family with limited finances. My dad was big on preaching that it was essential to learn to put off gratification. Dad had a saying that came from his grandmother: "You have to push the peanut with your nose." I was never sure if that saying was meant for humans or elephants. Q: How did your first job shape your work ethic and life ambitions?A: When I turned 16, I graduated from babysitting to waitressing. My first job was at The Colonial Cottage in Canfield, Ohio. We sold a lot of chicken pot pies. Waitressing is great life training - you learn to prioritize and manage your time, you learn to appear cool even if you are frazzled, you hone your memory skills and your sense of humor, and you learn to be brave and patient around grumpy customers and chefs.  

I also learned that people can be cruel and treat waitresses as if they are servants, which made me work harder when I got to college. I love when I look at a resume, and the applicant has waited tables. I know that they will have the fortitude for fashion. Q: How did you spend your first paycheck? A: I'm sure I spent my first tips at Foxmoor or The Limited in the Southern Park Mall. When I saved more tips, I bought a Fiat, and that was a fiasco. I was warned the ball joints would pop out, and they did, which led to a tow truck and a bad date with the mechanic. He was the only guy in town who could fix a Fiat and I couldn't turn him down. Q: What did the fashion business teach you about finances?

A: It is very easy to make a big mistake and lose a lot of money. What I learned from some of my manufacturing mistakes was not really about finances rather a general life lesson. I learned to double, triple and quadruple check myself and everyone else around me. The teeniest typo can blow up to haunting proportions. As a result, I have developed a very keen sense of intuition. Q: How did you get the right team in place around you to help achieve your financial goals?A: My husband and I have been business partners for 30 years. He has always handled the finances. He's an artist! We never wrote a business plan - we let the business take us on a wild ride. It's been an adventure. 

Q: Any role models you aspired to, who put you on the right path when you started achieving some success?A: I wish there would have been a financial mentor in my life; I thought money was growing on trees. Q: How do you decide where to allocate your charitable money? A: There was a time in my company when we would fulfill every single request for a donation, but that became impossible to keep up with. I wish I had more money to donate. I feel saddened that there are so many unfortunate people on this planet. I have a fantasy about imposing a big charity tax on the purchase of designer handbags. For every bag you buy, you have to donate an equivalent amount to help a needy child - wouldn't that be much more satisfying than just the bag? Q: What money lessons do you pass down to your own daughter?A: Have fun, enjoy, don't let money stress you out. There is just as much fun to be had in a one-room apartment as there is in a mansion. But if you find yourself with money, be sure to save for a rainy day!

Us chamber report sees no need for more money fund reforms


* Report touts success of SEC's 2010 fund reforms* Also finds funds withstood 2011 eurozone crisis* Warns against SEC imposing new reforms on industry* SEC, FSOC mull possible actions on money fund reforms* FSOC slated to meet in closed session ThursdayBy Sarah N. LynchWASHINGTON, Oct 16 Money market fund regulations adopted by U.S. securities regulators in 2010 reduced risks in the $2.5 trillion industry, according to a report sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that questions the need for further reforms. The report drafted by three finance and economics professors concludes that the Securities and Exchange Commission's 2010 rules have left money market funds more liquid and better able to withstand a wave of customer withdrawals.

The report says the industry weathered the economic turmoil in Europe in 2011 despite an uptick in redemptions, and did not pose any systemic risk to the marketplace."Given the remarkable stability of the industry in the summer of 2011 during the eurozone crisis and uncertainty about whether the U.S. would raise its debt ceiling, we question whether there is sufficient evidence to support additional reform," says the report by David Blackwell and Kenneth Troske from the University of Kentucky, and Drew Winters of Texas Tech University. The 2010 reforms tightened credit quality standards, shortened weighted average maturities, imposed a liquidity requirement on money market funds and increased disclosure of fund holdings. The report is the latest effort by the Chamber of Commerce to fend off efforts by SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro and the U.S. risk council to impose another round of rules on the money market fund industry.

The chamber released the report just two days before the Financial Stability Oversight Council, or FSOC, is slated to meet behind closed doors where the topic of money market funds is expected to be discussed. Last month, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said FSOC will begin considering new reforms after Schapiro failed to attract the three SEC votes she needed to advance her own plan. Schapiro has argued that more regulations are needed to prevent another run like the one seen in the 2008 financial crisis when the Reserve Primary Fund "broke the buck" and saw its net asset value fall below $1 per share. She had hoped to put out a proposal for public comment with two key components. One would have called for new capital buffers and redemption restrictions in a time of chaos. The other explored moving to a floating net asset value.

Banking regulators are supportive of her efforts. In a report on Monday, a group of researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York argued for new rules, saying funds could delay full redemptions from all customers at all times to encourage investors to look closely at a fund's risk before putting in money. But the money market fund industry worries that new rules would drive money out of their funds into bank accounts at a time of very low interest rates. Opposition to the reforms has also been mounted by many companies and local-government agencies that rely on money funds to buy their short-term debt instruments. Three SEC commissioners - Democrat Luis Aguilar and Republicans Daniel Gallagher and Troy Paredes - have also expressed skepticism, and have said they wanted to first study the effects of the 2010 reforms before proceeding with new rules. The SEC's economists are currently conducting the study requested by the three commissioners, and results could come out in a few weeks, according to one person familiar with the matter. Despite his resistance to Schapiro's original proposal, Gallagher has said he hopes the agency will consider a fresh package of reforms, and that he would be open to considering a floating net asset value coupled with allowing fund boards to impose liquidity "gates."Meanwhile, Geithner has said FSOC will likely weigh a package of money market reforms at its November meeting. Eventually, he hopes to present those suggestions to the SEC for consideration. Under the Dodd-Frank financial oversight law of 2010, the SEC would need to adopt FSOC's suggestions, or reject them in writing within 90 days.