Out on her own for the first time, Emily Burnett has lined up some well-placed investors for the new Burnett New York ready-to-wear, cocktail dresses and eveningwear line.
In June, Burnett exited Dennis Basso after a 10-year run. She inadvertently met her future cofounder and co-chief executive officer Sterling McDavid at the designer’s company. Pre-fall will be the first collection for the new label.
McDavid said she visited 20 couture houses in search of a wedding gown, before deciding on Dennis Basso, where Burnett was working at the time. “My experience at Dennis Basso with Emily, Dennis and the whole team was so positive, uplifting and I felt that I was part of this design process,” she said.
McDavid’s understanding of fashion started with her great-grandmother, who was a seamstress. Her mother had a keen interest in fashion and took McDavid to her first fashion show around the age of 10. Over the years, McDavid got to know numerous designers through her network, as well as her mother’s, but she said Burnett stood out. So much so that McDavid asked the designer how was it that she was not working independently. Like many designers, the idea of starting a signature company was something that Burnett aspired to, but she needed a stronger business acumen. With some convincing from McDavid, the pair put together a business plan.
McDavid worked at Goldman Sachs before deciding that her professional career needed more of a creative direction. So she started The Starling Project, a luxury home fragrance line that uses sales to help provide solar energy to families in need through the company’s partnership with UNICEF. She serves on UNICEF’s New York board of directors and is also a chair of UNICEF’s Next Generation in New York.
Burnett and McDavid have lined up some well-heeled investors. Susan Rockefeller, Musings magazine’s editor in chief and an Oceana board member; Moll Anderson, author of “Change Your Home, Change Your Life with Color, What’s Your Color Story?”; investor Nancy Rogers (whose husband, Richard, is ceo of Mary Kay cosmetics); Mona Patel, founder of the nonprofit Couture for Cause; and Julianna Teeple, a research analyst at Senator Investment Group, are among the individuals who have contributed to the $2.5 million.
Burnett added that her company plans to support organizations that benefit women such as “catering to and funding women’s education in the future.” And once the business is up and running, there may be opportunities for women who “might not otherwise have the opportunity to work at a fashion house.”
“We really want to dress women who empower other women and who stand for great things,” McDavid said.