By  on July 9, 2008

Cherokee Inc. late Tuesday welcomed back former president Jay Kester to lead marketing, and signed two new representation deals reflecting its desire to move beyond its base in apparel.

Its representation arrangements are for Refresh Skin Care by Dr. Susan Evans and with award-winning British interior designer Kelly Hoppen.

Kester, who served as president of Cherokee and departed in 1995, has returned as executive vice president, marketing, and will work with the firm's marketing representatives and retail accounts. Kester was most recently president of Hot Kiss, the junior brand in which Bluestar Alliance this year acquired a majority stake for an estimated $20 million.

Kester has been associated with Cherokee chief executive officer Robert Margolis throughout their professional careers. "His vision and leadership contributed to the growth of so many equities, including A. Smile, Gelati, Cherokee, Code Bleu and others," Margolis said. "His experience will be a tremendous asset."

Kester had been close to accepting another position in the apparel industry when he turned to Margolis for professional advice. "I told him to turn his car around and come see me," the ceo told WWD.

Although Cherokee is best known for its retail-direct ownership of brands including Cherokee, Sideout and Carole Little, it also serves as a licensing representative for brands both inside and outside the realm of apparel.

The addition of Evans — the Beverly Hills dermatologist whose Refresh collection emphasizes treatment of problem, scarred and discolored skin — to Cherokee's client roster reflects its desire to "focus on opportunities to represent other consumer product industries besides clothing and home brands, including HBA and electronics," said Larry Sass, executive vice president of Cherokee.

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