Bonnie Schaefer is the former co-CEO and co-Chairman of the Board of Claire’s Stores, Inc., the leading international specialty retailer offering value priced costume jewelry and accessories to fashion-aware tweens, teens and young adults through its two store concepts: Claire’s (North America and Europe) and Icing by Claire’s. Claire’s Stores, Inc. was a NYSE listed company traded under the symbol CLE. Bonnie was also the Chairman of the Board of Claire’s Nippon, Co., Ltd, a joint venture operating accessory boutiques in Japan, formed by Claire’s Stores, Inc. and AEON, Co., Ltd., a $30 billion specialty retailer.
Bonnie started her career at Claire’s Stores in 1987. Progressing through various positions over the next 15 years, Bonnie, along with her sister Marla, served as Acting co-Chairman of the Board and Acting co-Chief Executive Officer of Claire’s Stores, Inc. from November 2002 to 2003. Thereafter, each of them was elected by the Board of Directors to become co-Chairman and co-CEO. During their tenure, the company’s shareholder value increased approximately 200 percent. In May 2007, Bonnie and Marla consummated the sale of the company to a private equity group for $3.1 billion.
Bonnie is the current owner of the world-class Westglow Resort & Spa which is a Relais & Chateaux property located in Blowing Rock, NC. Westglow was also recently named by SpaFinder Magazine as one of the Best Boutique Spas in the World. She is also the proud owner of Rowland’s restaurant which she opened in honor of her father, Rowland Schaefer. Bonnie takes much pride in supporting the local farmers, and she personally procures the produce for Rowland’s from all corners of the High Country. Bonnie’s passionate love of fine dining has resulted in Rowland’s being recognized as a 5-star dining establishment.
A Life of Activism and Philanthropy
Bonnie attended the University of Miami and Skidmore College. She also studied in Florence, Italy through the Florida State University Overseas Study Center.
Very active politically, and also an active participant in a number of charitable and community organizations, Bonnie is an ardent supporter of women’s rights. Through her participation with the Women’s Media Center, she works for greater visibility and power for women in the media.
Bonnie works with Equality Now to improve conditions for women and girls around the world and has traveled with Gloria Steinem and the Equality Now staff, to Nepal and Zambia to attend conferences on human trafficking. She co-chaired the Ms. Foundation for Women’s 2007 and 2008 Gloria Awards with her sister, Marla. Bonnie was the honoree at the 2009 Gloria Awards, receiving the Woman of Vision and Action Award, and she served as Honorary Chair for the 2010 event. Bonnie is also a member of Women Moving Millions, a partnership of visionary donors, the Women’s Funding Network and its member funds.
Bonnie is on the Board of Trustees of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. She is a Mount Sinai Medical Center Founder, and a member of the Executive Board of Trustees. Bonnie serves on the host committee for the Women’s Division of the Weizmann Institute of Science, one of the world’s leading research and development centers in medicine, the environment, agriculture and physics, and was honored as a Woman of Vision by the Weizmann Institute in 2000. As co-founder, along with Jamie, of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition’s Run/Walk for the Whisper, Bonnie served as Honorary Chair for eight years.
Spending the summer months in North Carolina, Bonnie is involved in many of the High Country’s community organizations. She not only champions women’s rights globally, but also in her own back yard. Bonnie is a founding member of the Appalachian Women’s Fund which focuses on improving the lives of women and girls through grants, mentoring and advocacy. She is also a supporter of Power of the Purse of the High Country Women’s Fund, which helps women take major steps out of poverty.
Bonnie is a Board member of Appalachian State University’s (ASU) Summer [Music] Program and is a supporter of ASU’s Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies. Bonnie has given the seed money to build the first and only synagogue in the High Country and is currently the co-Chair of the Fundraising Committee. Ground-breaking is scheduled for May 2011. Other important contributions to the arts in the High Country have been to the Blowing Rock Art History Museum, Edgewood Cottage and the Hayes Performing Arts Center.
A reflection of Bonnie’s love for animals is shown through Bonnie’s active support of the Watauga Humane Society and commitment of Westglow as a lead sponsor for the annual Fur Ball. Through her generosity, a new shelter will be constructed for dogs, cats, horses, deer, ferrets and other animals cared for by the Watauga Humane Society. Bonnie’s affinity with the Blowing Rock Equestrian Preserve inspired her to offer a challenge grant to raise funds to build new stables and an indoor equestrian arena.
Bonnie’s interests include horseback riding, music and theatre. She resides in Boca Raton, FL.