Byline: Leonard McCants

NEW YORK — When Sunny Choi opened her business in Toronto more than a decade ago, it became a crash course in finance and business administration.
Working alone, she bought her fabrics at retail and had a difficult time filling orders.
“When you’re young and ignorant in the business, you always think you’ll be the next Yves Saint Laurent,” she said.
After stumbling with her first effort, she met Jack Atkins, who already had significant business experience. They teamed up, eventually got married, and a new line — Sunny Choi Black Label — was born.
The line, an evening suit and mother-of-the-bride collection, was introduced to the U.S. market about seven years ago at the Signum International showroom.
“In the beginning, it’s very difficult to get into the States,” Choi said. “I think you have to pinpoint your market to get your feet wet.”
With a significant distribution and a majority of her business coming from the U.S., they determined this was an opportune time to set out on their own.
“As a designer, you don’t want to get pigeon-holed as just an evening suit designer,” she said.
Early last week, the company opened a showroom at 530 Seventh Avenue in New York to present its entire product mix and launched a new line called Sunny Choi Platinum, an evening collection of gowns and separates priced about 30 percent higher than Sunny Choi Black Label.
Black Label suits wholesale for $400 to $600, while Platinum separates range from $300 to $800, and dresses wholesale for $1,000 to $1,500.
Atkins projects first-year sales for the new line of at least $1 million.
“With the Black Label, the collection grew very slowly and it will be the same for Platinum,” he said.
Distribution for the new collection will most likely follow Black Label’s network, where it is strong in the South and the Northeast, of about 100 specialty stores, in addition to Saks Fifth Avenue, Marshall Fields and Jacobson’s, he added.

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