Victoria's Secret

Perhaps the most iconic and well-known brand, Victoria's Secret, was purchased in 1982 for $1 million -- a paltry sum compared to the $1 billion the Victoria's Secret PINK brand extension earned in 2010. Les Wexner found Victoria's Secret as a small, interesting lingerie shop in San Francisco -- interesting because while its decor was Victorian, it was not stuffy, prudish Victorian but rather brothel Victorian with red velvet sofas. The lingerie it sold, however, was not erotic, but simply sexy. After he purchased the business, he realized that while most of the women he knew wore underwear, they would rather wear lingerie. So the company developed products with price points that had a broader customer base and over time it became Limted Brand's most profitable business.

Victoria's Secret was successful from the beginning and truly changed the intimate apparel industry. It forced department stores to change their marketing approach and helped change underwear from a taboo secret to an in-your-face recognition of a woman's sexuality. The company made waves when it ran a 30-second Valentine's Day advertisement during halftime of the Super Bowl in 2008. It's  pre-Christmas fashion show has been broadcast on television since 2001, growing more elaborate over time, but always featuring an ornate jeweled bra often valued in the millions. Victoria's Secret launched several other brands within the company, including Victoria's Secret Beauty and a collegiate brand, PINK, in 2008. Three years later, PINK announced a licensing agreement with all 32 National Football League teams.

Victoria's Secret Beauty was the first beauty brand, in an attempt to create a portfolio of distinct beauty businesses. Other beauty brands within the company include Bath and Body Works, which opened its first store in 1990. It now operates more than 1,600 stores nationwide and opened six stores in Canada in 2008. Bath and Body Works carried a candle and home line called Bath & Body Home, which changed its name in 1998 to White Barn Candle Company when it became a separate division and moved into its own store locations.

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Victoria's Secret