Khajak Keledjian founded Intermix on a tightly edited collection of brands such as Chloé, Stella McCartney, Missoni and Proenza Schouler with the conceit of wardrobing Intermix style, as in mixing and matching designers items in a surprising ways.
When Keledjian in 2012 sold Intermix, which operated 38 stores, to the Gap for $130 million, many wondered what his next act would be.
Keledjian said that when he had a minute to look around, he noticed colleagues and contemporaries in the fashion industry looking stressed out and frazzled.
Keledjian’s new project is Inscape, a 5,000-square-foot meditation center at 45 West 21st Street designed by architect Winka Dubbeldam. Inscape has two meditation rooms, the larger of which decorated with a bamboo pattern. Music and light are synchronized to change from blue to purple to red to orange to ochre. An audio voice guides the meditation.
“I’ve been meditating for almost a decade,” Keledjian said. “Fashion served me very well. I was 19 years old when I opened Intermix. It’s hard to have a balanced lifestyle. Retail is 24/7.”
Prices are $18 for a 33-minute session and $25 for a 44-minute session. Packages and memberships are also available, and a free app is launching.
Khajak is proud of the mats and pillows that were designed by Jeffrey Bernett, a designer who’s worked for B&B Italia, Knoll and Ligne Roset.
“This is where the fashion comes in,” Keledjian said, referring to ergonomically designed mats covered in fine fabrics. “This is what fashion has taught me.”
Isabella Huffington, an artist and daughter of Arianna Huffington, created an interactive collage for Inscape, while Tini Courtney, another artist, created a woven canopy of panels using 18,000 feet of rope.
The journey to Inscape wasn’t always smooth. Before the Intermix sale, a friend gave a bet: He’d give Keledjian $15,000 if he could sit in silence for 15 minutes. “We sat in a church and I ran the whole P&L of Intermix in my head,” he said. “He them guided me through meditation. I said, ‘When can we do it again?’”
Keledjian started practicing Kundalini yoga, a more meditative form. “I started having the sense that nothing replaces that. There’s a whole other dimension.”
At the end of 2012, Keledjian attended a 10-day silent retreat in Kaufman, Tex. “I made some big decisions in my life,” he said. “I would marry the woman I was with. Retail was getting more challenging. Intermix had 38 stores and needed the backing of a big company to compete.”
Keledjian made good on his decisions, selling Intermix to the Gap in December 2012. He married his longtime girlfriend in April 2013.
A trip to Burning Man music festival left Keledjian feeling inspired, but two months later, his father died in Armenia. When he visited the country for his father’s funeral, he saw fourth-century churches and was struck by inspiration.
Keledjian sifted through all his recent rather tumultuous experiences and decided to move forward with Inscape.
“This is coming in a huge way,” Keledjian said about guided meditation. “We’re so overstimulated. Meditation regenerates the brain cells.”
“At Intermix, we opened four to five stores per year,” Keledjian said. “With Inscape, we have to get the first one right. Yoga chains have 50 to 2,500 locations. The logic is there. That’s why I brought Lew on as a partner. He’s a big thinker.”
Lew is Lew Frankfort, the former chief executive officer of Coach, who built the brand to $5 billion in sales, before retiring.
“Most generally on my current chapter I’m focused on strategic investment in early stage brands in emerging categories,” said Frankfort, who is an inventor in Flywheel and sits on the board of WeWork. “My primary focus has been health and fitness. My love for Khajak and his passion to being an innovative mindfulness concept to market, became a passion of mine.”
Frankfort and Keledjian went together to check out exploratory meditation concepts. “Every meeting began with a meditation. I would transition to a calmer state and have better focus and clarity. The speed up in our world has a disproportionate affect on the fashion industry as consumers look at different experiences. I’ve felt for a long time that we’re over-stored and over-malled.
“[Meditation] is becoming a wonderful addition to my life,” Frankfort said. “Khajak has vision and the single-mindedness to translate this to a viable business as he did with Intermix.
“This potential is boundless,” Frankfort said of Inscape. ”We’re building a lasting brand one consumer at a time. As the franchise grows, we’ll look to open others, including a second one in Manhattan.”