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After only about a year in business, budding direct-sales shapewear brand Ruby Ribbon is bringing its product expertise to the next level with the hire of Patti Cazzato as its chief merchandising officer.
An apparel industry veteran, Cazzato held senior vice president positions at Levi’s and Gap before launching her own yoga apparel line, called Clary Sage Organics, in 2008.
“I have always found myself in bigger businesses, but the growth part is what I love, and I love the fact that Ruby Ribbon has an opportunity for explosive growth,” said Cazzato, who recently sold Clary Sage Organics. “They have a traction that I haven’t seen for a long time. It is really exciting for me to be a part of it.”
Ruby Ribbon, which has offices in Burlingame, Calif., and New York, has been a hot commodity in Silicon Valley and raised $11.5 million in Series A and Series B funding from Trinity Ventures and Mohr Davidow Ventures. Its vision is to amplify the effect of traditional direct selling with the connectivity of the Web. More than 50 percent of its direct-sales representatives, dubbed stylists, have at least 250 Facebook friends, and each of them is set up with their own Ruby Ribbon Web sites. So far, there are 140 stylists in 33 states, a number that’s expected to grow to as much as 1,000 by the end of the year as Ruby Ribbon focuses on building its national presence.
An annual sales estimate was not available, but the company could generate sales in excess of $5 million by 2014, according to industry sources.
Anna Zornosa, chief executive officer and cofounder of Ruby Ribbon, believed the time was right to augment the brand’s executive ranks.
“The company is at a point where we have proven the product concept, revenues are growing, the sales network is expanding and we are really well funded,” she said. “I wanted to get the company to the place where we could hire absolutely the best in class. I waited to get maturity under our belt to draw a person who’d be attracted to a winning formula.”
At the moment, the brand has 35 pieces separated into three segments: fashion, shapewear and shaping basics, a group that contains its best-selling leggings. In its pieces, Ruby Ribbon puts a smoothing slip it has named Intomi, made out of an exclusive nylon-spandex blend. The brand’s retail prices range from $39 to $69.
“It’s slimming, but it is not your grandma’s tight, tight girdle,” said Cazzato. “I felt there was room to take what they have, but really grow with this innovation. I see a lot of new categories, new fabrications, updated styling and unique Ruby Ribbon distinction points where people would recognize Ruby Ribbon on the street.”
The priority for Cazzato will be to solidify Ruby Ribbon in the fashion category. Proprietary prints made their Ruby Ribbon debut in the spring with a zebra-print camisole, and going forward the brand plans to introduce additional prints and different necklines.
“We meet so many women who are purchasing their first piece of shapewear. We teach her that she should have multiple pieces….When you start showing her that it’s made with a zebra print that can pop out of an open-neck blouse, her appetite goes up and up,” said Zornosa. “When you think about products that are designed and worn to be seen, there is huge potential.”