TIBI MAPS FRESH TERRITORY
Byline: Melanie Kletter
NEW YORK — Amy and Frank Smilovic, the husband-and-wife team behind Tibi, are expanding their fast-growing contemporary firm on a multitude of fronts.
Tibi has just moved its headquarters from Hong Kong to Manhattan’s SoHo district, and Frank joined the company as president after working in a variety of executive positions in corporate America, most recently at Gateway.
The firm also has just launched an e-commerce site at tibichick.com., and along the way, the couple eight weeks ago had a baby boy named Gabriel Paul, who could be heard in the background during a phone interview.
“I spent so many years in corporate America and I wanted to do something more entrepreneurial,” Frank said. “And the company had gotten to the point where it needed someone to run the day-to-day operations so Amy could focus on design.”
A former American Express employee, Amy, who designs the collection, founded the company about three years ago when she and Frank moved from Manhattan to Hong Kong. The firm is on track to reach sales of $6 million this year, and is working to reach sales of $20 to $30 million in the next three years, Frank said.
Smilovic’s sportswear collection now includes dresses, knits, skirts, pants and tops in a variety of fabrics and styles, many of which were inspired by her travels in Asia. Most of the line is still produced overseas. Wholesale prices range from $80 for pants to about $140 for dresses. Amy said her inspiration each season comes from a different city. For spring, the designer traveled to the Island of Capri, where she picked up on the casual sophistication she saw.
“The line is full of prints and fun colors, and reflects the casual chicness of that area,” she said.
The collection is now sold in about 200 doors, including major retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Henri Bendel and in smaller stores such as New York’s Scoop, Tootsies in Houston and Odessa in Portland, Ore., and also is sold internationally in London, France and Hong Kong.
Frank said he is looking to go deeper with some accounts and also build brand awareness, which has spread primarily by word of mouth. Tibi has virtually no advertising, although Frank said he is in the process of developing a marketing plan.
“We want to make sure we don’t overexpose the brand,” he said.
He is also looking to expand more in Asia, where he said there is a lot of interest in stylish, American brands.
The new Web site, at tibichick.com, features a variety of offerings from the collection. One popular item has been floral pins, which have been selling well thanks to similar styles worn by the actresses on “Sex and the City.”
The lively Web site includes Amy’s brightly colored illustration’s, as well as a store locator and general information about the company. Frank said the e-commerce site is designed to be more of a brand-building tool, and that all fulfillment is being handled by retailers who carry the line.