Daniel Gestetner is an entrepreneur who has worked in diverse fields: beauty, pastries, e-commerce and now, lingerie.
Gestetner, who oversees the trendy Myla intimates business, developed his taste for brands in the Nineties when he headed the Revlon business for central and Eastern Europe, ran the $60 million cake division at grocer Tesco and sold the $500 million SmartShop.com business he created with his brother Leo to a division of Barclay's Bank in 2001.
Now, at 36, he's facing one of his toughest challenges: developing, marketing and selling the saucy Myla brand of lingerie to a consumer base of sophisticated, modern women who appreciate luxury and sex appeal. He said he wants to turn the two-year-old brand that he and his brother, who serves as director of operations and finances, bought in October 2005 into an "aspirational brand that will give women a feeling of empowerment, as well as making them feel and look sexy."
Gestetner reviewed a five-year plan that he hopes will grow the Myla name into a $50 million business worldwide. The brand, acquired from founders Charlotte Selmer and Nina Hampson, is projected to generate combined wholesale and retail revenues of $15 million by October 2008, he said.
"It's ambitious, but it's a huge market,'' Gestetner said. "The category is there for the taking."
Gestetner also is director of London-based Brands Etc., which, in addition to Myla, includes three diversified wholesale businesses: Zoggs, a $30 million Australian swimwear accessories line for men, women and children; Women's Pure Lime, a $4 million brand of Scandinavian exercisewear and sports bras, and First Fitness Factory, a $15 million business of gymwear sold at 150 concessions at gyms in the U.K.
Gestetner believes Myla could be developed into a world-class top brand through marketing, advertising, expansion into prime retail locations and building a prolific wholesale business. The first global ad campaign, created by Myla's creative director, Franceska Luther, and photographed by Ben Hassett, broke in October editions of British Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, and will appear in Vogue in the U.S. in December. The campaign, with the tag line "Myla — Beauty and the Bedroom," will be followed by other titles in the spring, said a spokeswoman."One of the first things we look at is what is the competition in the sector," Gestetner said. "Globally, we saw it was only La Perla, a high-end brand like ours. But Myla is younger and sexier. My mother would wear La Perla."
Regarding real estate, he said, "We're looking for a second New York shop in SoHo, and we've been approached by the Plaza, but by no means have we agreed to a deal. We are also looking at Bal Harbour [Fla.], where there is no lingerie brand [boutique], and at Las Vegas at both Caesars Palace and the Venetian Resort Hotel, which is adding a huge retail wing. I want to be on Robertson Boulevard [Los Angeles], near Kitson, where celebrities like Victoria Beckham shop."
The brand already has a celebrity following in London, especially the Notting Hill boutique where habitués range from Kate Moss, who has purchased made-to-order undies, to Prince Harry, who bought gift items.
There are six freestanding Myla boutiques in the U.K., and one in New York at Madison Avenue and East 69th Street. An in-store Myla "concept shop" is scheduled to open at Harrods in London next month. Gestetner said exhibiting at trade shows such as the Salon International de la Lingerie in Paris and Lyon, Mode City in Lyon, France, has helped open up international accounts.
"We had no wholesale business before, but now we have up to 200 retail customers like Bloomingdale's and Barneys New York,'' he said. "And we are expanding business in Europe and have a strong business in Russia, including Estelle Adony, Russia's second-largest lingerie chain, Tsum department store in Moscow, and Podium, a five-unit chain in Moscow."
The brand plans to "make a big splash at the next [Salon] show in Paris and is looking at opening up accounts with six retail groups in the Mideast over the next two months based on orders from the Lyon show," Gestetner said. "We also plan to roll out 10 to 12 Myla stores in the Mideast because it's a very exciting and lucrative market. Women spend money on lingerie, perfume, jewelry and handbags."
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