Laura Alber

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 15: CEO and Director. William-Sonoma, Inc. Laura Alber attends Forbes Women's Summit:The Entrepreneurship of Everything at 583 Park Avenue on May 15, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage)
LAURA ALBER, CEO OF WILLIAM-SONOMA, INC. ALIX COLOW. PICK UP.Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage)Photograph by Paul Zimmerman — WireImage/Getty Images
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In 2010 Alber ascended to the top job at the chain that epitomizes kitchens as upper- middle-class fantasyland—all gorgeous copper pans and colanders that gleam like sterling silver (and seem to cost almost as much). Since then she has delivered tasty stock performance: a cumulative 160%, nearly double the S&P 500’s gain during that period. Just five years ago, the $4.8 billion company struggled with shaky online sales, but now it’s one of the country’s biggest e-tailers with nearly half of its sales online. In the most recent quarter Alber heated up revenues 8.5% in part by adopting technologies aimed at improving the customer experience. Williams-Sonoma launched its first app, Recipe of the Day, partnered with YouTube to offer shoppable online videos, and enabled Visa Checkout as a secure and easy way to pay online. The CEO also promoted in-store events, like panini-making classes, and announced plans to add 11 stores to its fastest-growing brand, West Elm, which has brought home double-digit growth in recent years.