JOINING JESSICA’S: Private equity firm Relativity Capital’s majority investment in Jessica’s is starting to bear fruit. Jessica’s, a distributor of apparel to off-price retailers, has hired Mary Lee Gallagher, previously president of special sales at Liz Claiborne, as senior vice president overseeing sales and buying in its New York office and Scott Rodner, formerly senior buyer for apparel and footwear at The TJX Companies Inc., as senior vice president spearheading brand development out of the company’s Vernon, Calif., headquarters. This year, Richard Koral, who founded Jessica’s in 1980, said business is down slightly from last year, but he predicted that delving deeper into accessories and footwear, currently 10 to 20 percent of the company’s business, would be a major growth driver going forward. “The off-price channel since the recession has really been perceived differently,” he said. “Now, the consumer is more apt to go through that channel, and it has been shown that the channel is not dilutive to the full-price channel.” With off-price retail distribution becoming more important to apparel brands, Jessica’s has shifted toward making merchandise specifically for the channel, and the specialized merchandise constitutes a majority of its business. Joyce Johnson-Miller, senior managing director and cofounder of Relatively, which invested in Jessica’s last year, said Koral “has done a phenomenal job of penetrating that special makeup area, and we think it is going to be high growth in the future.”