NEW YORK — Clubland antics and front-row transvestites guarantee fun times for all, but Heatherette designers Traver Rains and Richie Rich have learned a crucial lesson: They needed an experienced partner to build their business.
Media attention and hype are fine, but for all the publicity the duo garnered with their madcap shows since they launched their label in 1999, Heatherette never had the means to put together a saleable collection and, save for a few T-shirts here and there, didn’t have any distribution.
“The industry buzz was always, ‘Where do you sell?’” Rich conceded. “I would say, ‘We are trying to sell but the shipments are late. We don’t have the right production. But we’re really good at posing for the right pictures.’”
Rains added, “We tried to do it from the ground up, doing shipments and learning the business as we went along. Needless to say, it was a long struggle to keep that side going, and we decided to focus on press and on building the brand image, not so much on sales.”
But after five years of carefully cultivating this image, Rich and Rains are ready to capitalize on their hype and translate it into a business that could rake in sales of up to $10 million next year. To that end, the duo partnered with Norman and Bruce Weisfeld, managing partners of the Weisfeld Group, which is also an investor in Fubu and Coogi, last September. Together, they created Heatherette LLC.
Beginning with the fall collection, which is to be presented at Bryant Park this Friday, the plan is to distribute Heatherette to contemporary departments at 300 to 500 upscale department and specialty stores. The future strategy also calls for such products as handbags, sunglasses, men’s wear, infants’ wear, beauty and even home.
“I saw in Heatherette something very similar to Fubu,” said Norman Weisfeld. “It was niche marketing with a very strong message that’s easy to translate into action. We take the artist, take the talent and merge them with an infrastructure. We saw that Heatherette could easily fit into our infrastructure.”
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"It's really hard sometimes. I think I have a reputation for being really tough and aggressive and pushy but I really am a very shy person who wants to be liked, and that's the conflict constantly. There's something that takes hold - I want people to like me, I don't want to be mean - but if I see something that just cries out to be answered, I go for it," says renowned NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell. (📷: @axeldupeux)