Career ladder: Guarino earned a bachelor's degree in fine arts from the University of Oklahoma in 1986 and completed special study programs at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Early in her career, she focused on fashion illustration, creative direction, and product design and development at companies in Los Angeles. In 1998, she moved to business development as vice president of brand management for The Sak. In 2003, she became co-owner and CEO of J.W. Hulme, a 100-plus-year-old American-made leather goods brand that Guarino restitched and revived from near bankruptcy. In 2013, she joined Shinola in Detroit as vice president of leather goods. Guarino, 54, is also the founding chair of The Makers Coalition.
Power metrics: Founded in 2011, Shinola is the first company in decades to produce watches at scale in America and the first company to be based within the College for Creative Studies, with headquarters — and the watch and leather factories — inside the college's A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education in Midtown. Shinola had nearly $100 million in sales in 2015, has 14 stores across the United States with one abroad in London, England, and employs 530 people (397 in Detroit), with more than 240 of those employees working in manufacturing. Guarino leads development for Shinola's leather goods manufacturing efforts in Detroit.
Special skill: Her sense of humor. "You have to have a sense of humor about yourself first before you can have a sense of humor about solving things."
Biggest setback: During the recession, Guarino owned leather goods brand J.W. Hulme in Minnesota. The bank pulled the company's credit line forcing Hulme to lay off 90 percent of the workforce. The company was eventually able to hire everyone back and return to growth, but Guarino called it "a giant setback."
Why you decided to get into the fashion/retail industry: "I started as a fashion illustrator, illustrating for designers, and then I became fascinated with the whole process of making something out of nothing and seeing people respond to it in a way that they would actually pay to own it. ... There's a give and take when you do that. ... The business of creating something is really satisfying."
Advice you have for young women trying to get into this field: "Oftentimes you'll talk to people when they reach a certain age, an older age, and they'll say, 'Well, I really want to find something to do that's meaningful as I get older in my career,' and I would say, don't wait until you get older to find that. Find something in your career that is greater than just the job that you do every day."
Advice for women when it comes to success in general: Never stop learning, Guarino said. "Never feel like you are the expert. There is always, always something to be learned. ... Always have someone who's smarter than you that you can be learning from."
Tips on being a respected leader: "You have to value everybody's contributions. Everybody, no matter what position they hold, wants to be valued. And everybody, no matter what position they hold, wants to matter, and so they need to be treated that way. My desk is in (Shinola's leather) factory for a reason. The people who are working here in the factory matter just as much as our president, and you have to demonstrate that in the way that you treat people every day."
How to get younger generations interested in the skilled trades: "You have to show them the joys of being in manufacturing." Let people see that there doesn't have to be a stigma to it and that there can be a rewarding career path, Guarino said.
Jennette SmithHere's how we produced this special section.
Jennette SmithWe view all of our honorees over the years as part of a "legacy list," some of whom should be considered as prospects for corporate and nonprofit board service.
Vickie ElmerNot that they have a lot of free time, but when they do, here's how the 100 Most Influential Women fill it.
Sherri WelchThe new study by Grand Valley State University of Fortune 500 boards shows a correlation between board diversity and healthier profits, and Michigan companies have ample opportunity to improve board diversity, the study's co-author says.
Staff Blog | Jennette SmithI've been living and breathing this project for months and got by with a little help from my friends in the newsroom and at companies across the state.
Staff Blog | Mary KramerThat's why Crain's Detroit Business has joined with the Michigan Women's Commission and Deloitte, among others, to create a path to help more companies find talent for their boards.
Crain's Detroit BusinessIn an effort to boost women's representation on for-profit corporate boards, Crain's Detroit Business on Tuesday night launched the Michigan Women's Directory. The launch coincided with the 100 Most Influential Women in Michigan recognition event that was attended by about 700 people.