By  on May 6, 2011

In fall 2008, just as the economy bottomed out, Margaret Maldonado decided to launch a contemporary collection called L’Agence. Her first order of business was designing the label that would be sewn inside the clothes; her second, cold-calling Ron Herman, the Los Angeles-based retailer, to ask for a meeting.

“Ron cracks up when he tells the story because I didn’t have the samples, but I knew what I wanted to do,” says Maldonado, 46, who has no formal design training. “We had lunch, and I brought him the sample of the tag, and he was like, ‘I believe that you are going to do this for some reason. You’re a little strange. Come back to me when you have a collection.’ ”

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