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Former CKI Exec Starts Consulting Firm

Kim Vernon has spent much time honing her skills in marketing and advertising, which she is now channeling into Vernon Co.

NEW YORK — Kim Vernon has spent much time honing her skills in marketing and advertising, which she is now channeling into Vernon Co.

The consultancy is less traditional public relations and more media strategy and brand building. The former Calvin Klein Inc. executive, who launched her firm last October, is taking a multipronged approach: marketing, branding and communication; licensing and alternative distribution channels, and working directly with private equity firms on investment opportunities in the fashion and luxury sectors.

“I love brands and products, as long as they have integrity,” she said. “And I am not only interested in fashion. I want to help people grow their brands, or help tarnished brands.”

Until October 2005, Vernon was senior vice president of global advertising and communications at Calvin Klein Inc., where she managed a $250 million marketing budget for the company, which at the time had 35 licensees and a staff of more than 60 in advertising and public relations.

Vernon has spent time casually meeting with young designers over the past few months to try to help them raise capital with equity firms.

“There’s a lot of money out there,” she said. “You find agencies that will do licensing deals, and they take the royalty, but don’t connect the brand to the product.” Her aim, she stressed, was to locate the right opportunities, then guide the partnerships beyond the initial transaction.

“We are not just a ‘transaction’ company, but one that has the integrity and future of the brand in mind,” she said.

On finding funding for young designers, Vernon, who has a staff of four, said: “I would very much like to be able to raise and create an incubator of promising designers, even in different price points or products, such as shoes, apparel or accessories, where they would be able to receive cash as well as share operational…and management support.”

Prior to her 10-year stint at CKI, she ran her own marketing and branding company, The Vernon Co., where she consulted on lifestyle Internet brands, and with fashion clients Vera Wang, Club Monaco and Katayone Adeli. Before that, she was vice president of advertising and communications at Prada for two years.

Over the past few months, the executive has assembled a roster of clients, including Loulou de la Falaise, Elise Overland, Anne Semonin Skincare, Sokolin Wines and Arctic Water. She is also working on raising equity with Goode Partners, Guggenheim Partners, Hilco, Summit Capital, Towerbrook and Catterton Partners, and on special projects with MAC Cosmetics, Milk Studios, Puig Fashion Group and Yoo Hotel Group. Vernon is on the advisory board of Financo.