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Take Notice

Former Tessuto designer Randa Allen is now at the helm of her own fashionable collection.<br><br><br><br>When buyers discover Randa Allen was the main designer for Tessuto, they immediately assume they’re about to eye a bunch of printed dresses....

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Notice’s ivory cotton crochet tank top and pink, blue and green print cotton flounce skirt.

WADE LIVINGSTON

Former Tessuto designer Randa Allen is now at the helm of her own fashionable collection.

When buyers discover Randa Allen was the main designer for Tessuto, they immediately assume they’re about to eye a bunch of printed dresses.

Then they get a look at Allen’s year-old line, Notice.

“They say, ‘but it’s nothing like Tessuto,’’’ said the 36-year-old Los Angeles-based designer, whose line is shown in room 2G54 at the International Apparel Mart in Dallas.

What they find instead is sophisticated sportswear with a sense of humor — clothes that reflect the spirited, off-beat designer.

“Her stuff is fun, imaginative, girlie,” said Kate Logan, owner of Ooma, a San Francisco boutique which has carried Notice since June.

Among the styles set for delivery are ruffled shirts and skirts made from a floral stretch sateen with a contrasting turquoise and pink lining; jacquard-striped cotton skirts paired with a cotton eyelet camisole or duster; and retro-print cotton voile dresses, skirts and pants.

One of her favorite items in the spring delivery is the “Poodle Doodle” skirt — a low-hipped, cotton twill miniskirt decorated with an embroidered poodle and a leash swinging out of one pocket.

“She has a real zest, a real flair,” said Pam Cohen, owner of Flip Flop, a Manhattan Beach, Calif., boutique that has carried four collections. “She is developing a little bit of a following around here.”

The company ships 15 to 25 styles a month, with wholesale prices ranging from $39 for tops to $139 for silk dresses to $199 for coats. Notice is sold in nearly 200 high-end boutiques, including Precision in New York, Elements in Dallas and My Friend’s Place in Atlanta.

In its first year, Notice has done nearly $1 million in wholesale volume, Allen said.

Allen worked as a designer for such companies as Kenar and Mevisto before joining Tessuto as a designer. She worked for the Los Angeles company for six years, watching the business grow from two sample makers to 10. Although she enjoyed the job, Allen was ready to go out on her own.

This story first appeared in the October 10, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“I needed to do sportswear, and Tessuto needed a breath of fresh air,” she said. “Now I get to find my customer.”

Using the money she had saved with her husband to buy a house, Allen launched Notice in the summer of 2001. She said the name of the company describes what happens when people wear her clothes. “You really get noticed,” said Allen, who has embossed the word “me” in raised letters over “Notice” on the hangtags.

For the first six months, Allen was a one-woman operation, working out of her car and her Beverly Hills apartment.

Now she has a little workspace with a pattern maker and two sewers. She has three sales representatives and does all of her own public relations. Her husband, Scott, handles her accounts payable and family and friends help out when needed.

Despite the growing popularity of Notice, Allen said she never realized how hard it would be to start her own business. “I just keep plugging away,” she said. “If it was easy, everybody would be doing it.”

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