NEW YORK — For the woman who wants to fix her faucet, Barbara Kavovit just might be the next Martha Stewart.
This story first appeared in the April 18, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The Barbara K collection of tool kits for women officially launches at Bloomingdale’s 59th Street April 26 in the home department. J.C. Penney, Fortunoff’s, Linens ’n Things, Gracious Home, Macy’s, Burdines and The Bon Marche also will sell the tools.
“My tools are lightweight, they have nonslip grips, there are spring-loaded pliers and there’s a screwdriver with a place to fit your thumb so you don’t break your nail,” Kavovit said.
Kavovit has several fashion industry executives invested in her business, including Larry Leeds and Dan Schwarzwalder, investing independently from their Buckingham Capital firm, and executive search consultant Robert Kerson. “She’s creative and highly marketable,” said Kerson. “The tools have attractive handles and they’re a little lighter, but they’re real tools.”
Alexander Lebenthal is another investor, and Paul Davies, formerly Woolworth’s president of merchandising, is president of Barbara K.
Kavovit projected $11 million in wholesale volume for the first year; $20 million in the second. She’s also projecting that her tools will eliminate the fear that some women have doing home repairs. The New Rochelle, N.Y., native years ago handed out business cards to women in shopping center parking lots, offering to act as an “interpreter” between them and their contractors. That led to overseeing some repair work at IBM, and eventually forming her own company, Anchor Construction.
She says she wants to give women the “physical and mental” tools to deal with home improvement. Her kits come with the instruction booklets on tools and certain repairs. She has three kits, from $40 to $60, but she sells “separates,” like fiberglass hammers and long-nose pliers, at $10 each. Her philosophy is, if you can fix your home, you can fix your self-confidence. Other products coming soon: a car kit with jumper cables, camera, antifreeze and water, and a college dorm survival kit, equipped with a hammer, screwdriver, wire ties, a tape measure and the all-important “do not disturb” sign.