NEW YORK — Sleepwear designer Karen Neuburger is aiming to expand her home goods business with a lifestyle concept at department stores she calls “Dream Home.”
So far, the Sausalito, Calif.-based designer and entrepreneur has six licensees: intimates at Van Mar, slippers at Wolverine, high-end mattresses at Simmons Co., soft tabletop items and home accent items at Manuel Woodworkers & Weavers, basic and fashion bedding at Hollander Home Fashions Corp., and infant bedding and accessories at Crown Craft Infant Products.
But that’s only the beginning according to Neuburger, whose company, KN Ltd., distributes to more than 3,000 department store doors and generates more than $60 million in wholesale revenues annually, according to industry estimates. In addition to men’s sleepwear, which will be launched this fall, other areas Neuburger is eyeing include paper products, floor coverings, children’s apparel, infant layette, garden accessories, casual table tops, coordinated bath towels and bathroom accessories, and holiday decorative craft kits like quilts.
All of these ideas are showcased in the Karen Neuburger showroom at 171 Madison Ave. here, where she said current licensees and potential licensees as well as retailers can view her “vision of cross-merchandising in a boutique environment.”
Neuburger, who bears a resemblance to Martha Stewart, started out in 1994 as a women’s pajama resource, and gained national exposure in 1996 as part of a “favorite things” telecast on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”
She pointed out that Stewart has never penetrated department store channels, and believes there is a “big opportunity.”
“If anything, I’m anti-Martha,” said Neuburger. “I don’t know yet if the resemblance means anything or if the Kmart shopper who buys Martha Stewart would buy Karen Neuburger products at department stores. We’ll see.”
Regarding her marketing image, Neuburger described herself as “easy and casual, not perfect.”
“I love to garden, but I don’t know the names of the plants,” she said. “It did get out of hand with Martha. Everything is too time-consuming. I’m not going to roll the dough 200 times.”
Asked if there’s been a negative reaction to her resemblance to Stewart, Neuburger said: “I recently was in a street in Manhattan when a [homeless] man starting wagging his finger at me calling me Martha. He was furious with me and I had to take refuge in a Starbucks for half an hour.”
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