Ashley Heather is a digital commerce entrepreneur.
The London native’s background includes Starstyle.com, a company that allowed consumers to purchase products they saw on TV shows, films and music videos, as well as Dotbox, an agency that built digital businesses incorporating e-commerce and social media. He was also involved in the creation of Shop My Label, a social commerce marketplace that enabled users to earn money by sharing their fashion styles with friends.
Now Heather is turning his attention to the men’s space with a new accessories concept called Little West 12th. He has teamed with Dearrick Knupp, who teaches at the Fashion Institute of Technology and has a background as a creative director, as well as former Robert Graham president Neal Kusnetz on the business, which will launch for holiday.
Little West 12th will offer an assortment of men’s accessories that are housed in compartments in a custom gift box that looks like a book. Upon opening the “book,” customers will find one long tie, one bow tie, cufflinks, a lapel pin, two pairs of socks and a pocket square. The box also includes a video that can be customized by the purchaser and/or provide information on the brand as well as style tips. Each box has a hole in it so customers can store their phones inside and charge them.
“It’s a real giftable experience,” said Heather of the patented concept. “It’s not a throwaway box.”
“We liked the idea of bringing traditional concepts into an updated contemporary setting,” Knupp added.
Nearly all of the accessories are made in New York and the launch will feature three different options. The first is called Civilized, which is skewed preppy. The Hunt is targeted to the sartorially savvy man, and Urbane Without Prejudice is designed to appeal to hipsters.
In The Hunt box, for example, the tie is Chantilly lace, the bow tie and pocket square are in denim with fringed edges and the lapel pin is copper with a blue bead in the center.
Heather said he and his partners are currently in conversation with several retailers to launch the brand later this year. “We don’t want to go direct,” he said. “We have a wholesale model at our core.”
The brand will offer single items on its web site, but not the assortment in the book.
The boxes will retail for around $295, but the price can be higher depending upon the materials used and the intricacy of the designs.
For next spring, they expect to branch out into dads and grads boxes, and they also hope to get into the wedding business by creating boxes especially for groomsmen.
Heather is hopeful that down the road, Little West 12th can partner with other brands to fill out the box and even install interactive kiosks in boutique hotels in what Knupp described as a “vending machine concept.”
Heather described the business as having “lots of layers to it. That’s important when you’re starting a brand from scratch with no history or heritage.”