By  on June 14, 1994

NEW YORK -- Nuance Textiles Inc., a three-year-old converter building its business in the crowded prints market, is ready to move in additional directions.

The firm was conceived after a bid by its three principals to acquire the converter they worked for was turned down. Nuance has reached a $20 million annual volume, primarily through exclusive prints on rayon and polyester fabrics for better-to-moderate sportswear and dress markets, and now is investing in some new opportunities, including beefing up both its open line and exclusive offerings and broadening its solid fabrics collection.

Barney Kelley, Ralph Annibale and Samy Nimroody, Nuance's principals, outlined those plans last week in an interview at the company's headquarters here. The three have no formal titles, although Kelley handles the bulk of the financial work, while Annibale concentrates on styling, and Nimroody handles import production. All three handle sales activities.

Yet while they look to expand Nuance's horizons, they won't ignore its roots.

"We are not going to forget what this company was built on, creating new prints," said Kelley.

Nuance was born on Aug. 8, 1991. That morning, Kelley, Annibale and Nimroody, who wanted to run their own company, walked into the executive offices of their employer at the time, converter Fisher & Gentile here, and made an offer to acquire the company. Their bid was rejected.

They then turned to plan B -- pouring in excess of $500,000 of their own money into forming Nuance. Later that afternoon, from a temporary space in Nimroody's Upper West Side apartment, Nuance made its first-ever sale -- a $100,000 order from JH Collectibles.

"We had made plans to move forward if they didn't accept our bid, and we were basically in business 30 minutes later," said Kelley, who asserted that the preliminary legwork, such as contracting dyers and finishers and searching for office space, "was done on our own time."

"We did not contact any prospective customers prior to our leaving Fisher & Gentile," he said, "nor did we borrow any money to get started."

On Aug. 12, 1991, Nuance, using dyeing plants in the South and in New Jersey, along with some in the Far East, set up shop in its current office on West 37th Street here. First-year sales were about $4 million, increasing to $16 million in the year ended in August 1993.

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