She left her job last week as senior creative director of Donna Karan Collection after 16 years. Although Young said she remains personally close with Karan and will continue to sell her one-year-old high-end children's clothing and furniture line in some of the designer's stores, Young is clearly on her own. She has aggressive plans to expand her company with freestanding stores and new product categories. Just a couple of days after leaving Donna Karan, Young seemed at ease as she ran through some of her ideas.
First on Young's agenda is the opening of a freestanding store, planned for early December in Aspen, Colo.
It happened because her daughter's friend and the girl's parents "moved to Aspen and really wanted to open the store there, so it's sort of a partnership we have with them," Young said in an interview from her downtown apartment-showroom. "From the start, I knew I wanted to open my own stores. I think they are really important for a successful business. You can't do just retail or just wholesale in this day and age. You wouldn't survive."
The store at 675 Cooper Avenue is about 1,100 square feet. Young has been working on the design of the space with Manhattan-based architects Enrico Bonetti and Dominic Kozerski. The white walls, floor and ceiling are made of white-washed wood and lacquer. Young has also designed a custom light fixture that is a simple cluster of bulbs that will hang from the center of the ceiling. The store features custom-made shelving and clothing racks as well as stroller parking inside to make shopping easier for moms. The look of the store will resemble what Young described as "a high-tech ski shop."
She expects to reach $2 million in first-year sales.
Young said she would like to begin opening more stores on a worldwide scale. She is looking for a location in Manhattan and said she wants to start searching for spaces in the Middle East.
"I did a trunk show in London and got the best reaction from some of the shoppers from places like Dubai and Abu Dhabi," she said. "So that would be a great opportunity for us."And Young is on a quest to find a new way to produce her handmade children's furniture collection. It is made of wood with Young's signature floral motif etched in and retails from $600 for a chair to $14,000 for a bed.
"It's just too expensive," she said. "I've had people interested in buying a piece from the Far East and by the time I figure out shipping costs, it's just beyond expensive."
In addition, Young is working on expanding her clothing collection, having just introduced a few unisex styles. Her muses are her six-year-old daughter, Celia, and three-year-old son, Brando.
In addition, for spring retailing, she is launching swimwear. The Bonnie Young collection wholesales from $30 for a pair of white linen pants to $1,000 for a tulle dress with multicolor laser-cut flowers scattered on it. The clothing sells in specialty stores worldwide including Barneys New York in New York and Los Angeles, Harvey Nichols in London, Club 21 in Singapore and Mercury in Moscow. The furniture sells exclusively in Donna Karan's stores.
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