NEW YORK — Jodi Arnold is getting pumped for a big year.
As creative director of nine-year-old contemporary line Mint, Arnold has made some major changes to her company. Her first move was to partner with longtime friend DeForrest Borders 3rd, who spent 14 years at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. gaining experience in business development. Now, as principal and chief executive officer of Mint, Borders has helped Arnold in a turnaround of the business.
They took the line out of the Globe showroom and opened a corporate showroom at 230 West 39th Street here, implemented technology to help the sales team easily collect data on a more regular and consistent basis, launched a Web site and for spring, a new contemporary line, called Jodi Arnold.
"For several years, DeForrest listened to my frustrations about how tough this business is," Arnold explained. "So when he came in a year ago, it was a big relief for me to be able to really focus on the design, which is really what I know the most about."
Borders, who said he has seen firsthand how advances in technology can transform businesses, was eager to upgrade and reorganize Mint's practices. An in-house sales team was hired and trained to use Borders' new data system. Previously, Arnold said many things were done the old-fashioned way — with pen and paper.
"Good business is driven by process and structure," Borders said. "So for us to be in a multiline showroom didn't make sense. With our own sales team here under this roof, we have full control of how this business is run."
Since Arnold and Borders opened their own showroom and upgraded the technology, business has increased by 60 percent, Borders said. By the close of 2007, the Mint brand will bring in about $15 million in wholesale volume. With Arnold freed to concentrate on the creative side, she's had the time and ability to design a new line, Jodi Arnold, launching for spring.
Although the Jodi Arnold collection is still considered a contemporary line, it is priced about 20 percent higher than the Mint label, with the average wholesale price between $200 and $250. Jodi Arnold is also a bit more sophisticated than Mint, as Mint has become known for its playful prints and embellished details on tops, dresses and skirts. The Jodi Arnold line focuses more on the richness and textures of higher-end Italian fabrics draped in ways that flatter a woman's figure. Most of the collection is done in solid, vivid colors, such as in a bright yellow silk dress, bright blue fine cotton top and tailored high-rise, wide-leg pants.
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