Haskell Jewels is one of the leading costume jewelry designers and manufacturers in the U.S. with licenses that include Kenneth Cole and Betsey Johnson — and the company also owns costume jewelry firm Miriam Haskell and recently acquired Robert Lee Morris. That stable of brands makes Haskell one of the largest vendors to Macy’s, J.C. Penney, Kohl’s and Dillard’s. Below, owner and chief executive officer Frank Fialkoff talks to WWD about the past two decades and how he turned Miriam Haskell from a $200,000 business into a group that now has estimated sales of $150 million.
WWD: Haskell Jewels acquired Miriam Haskell’s assets in 1990 — when you once said the line was “virtually out of business” and doing just $200,000 worth of business a year. Why do you think you were so successful in turning it around? Frank Fialkoff: When I bought it, all we had was [Miriam] Haskell — an exciting company. What we brought to it was an aggressive sales point of view, new designers and merchandising. The timing was perfect — it was a time when vintage collections were happening, and it did extremely well. [But] Miriam [Haskell] is totally handmade so there is only so much you can do in terms of production. We reached a point where it was time to add another dimension, and this was the trend business. I had done this most of my life. In the early Nineties there was an explosion of the Y-necklaces — and at that point our labor was in-house and we had the infrastructure to do this. It was an enormous success and put us in a total other realm. In 1993, Haskell was $50 to $100 and up and these Y-necklaces [and other trend jewelry] retailed for $15. It gave us a whole other array of merchandise that led us into the popular priced trend business. That was Haskell Jewels, and we were in most department stores by 1994 to 1995. It was from here [the trend business] that we were approached to do private label.
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