Timo: We’re privately funded by my family and there’s been cash flow from sales and also from another manufacturing business that I have. [The company] has been growing a lot too. It’s grown volume-wise, so now we’re funding through cash flow that way. The growth has helped, but also it’s greater amounts of money that have to be spent…Its really complex having a small manufacturing business. Funding is key.
Alan: We are truly concentrating on our funding now. We always have been, but we are 100% conscious of exactly how much we have, exactly how much is going out, and exactly how much is going in.
Timo: We’ve been approached by different investor groups, some that are really spectacular. Its interesting…I think, down the road, we will definitely need additional capital to grow.
What’s your educational background?
Timo: I went to Vanderbilt University and majored in economics, spanish language and literature and business management and did a minor in music. (Yes, that’s three majors and a minor) Then, I went into finance even though i knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted to do more manufacturing and fashion design. Everything like that was always on the back burner, but I never came out [and did it] until later.
Alan: I went to school originally for music. I studied music history of jazz and then left school. I checked myself into FIT, thinking, I love fashion; I love design, but maybe I should go for more of a business approach, so I enrolled in Advertising, Marketing and Communications, where I still am actually. I just take classes at night. Next semester, I’ll be taking design classes for the first time.
Donna: I went to FIT and majored in eveningwear, art and knitwear.
Timo: I think…to go back to the different worlds that we all come from, I think all of us were kind of fashion geeks. Especially me where no one gave a second glance at fashion magazines or anything. At Vanderbilt, I was always secretly reading W and Vogue and it was kind of always a passion, a secret passion.
What was the scariest thing about going out on your own?
Alan: I guess when doing anything creative, you put something out there and you never know how it’s going to get reviewed. You never know how it’s gonna sell; you never know how it’s gonna get received by the consumer; you don’t really know who’s going to end up buying it. You want to control every single element of your business and the first couple seasons it’s very hard. The line kind of takes a path of its own as well. So, you kind of keep your control and you try to keep the path that it takes the same.
Timo: You start to know what you’re really good at. Our dresses have sold the best – dresses and knitwear – so you realize what you can sell and you make it. You try to really, really fine tune that.
Alan: Every season is a tremendous learning experience, whether it be through sales, public relations, editor feedback…Now we really know we’re getting known for a certain style, a certain look, and we kind of have to hone in on that and produce that.
Timo: … and make it so that it’s still on the edge, still on the forefront and not predictable, which is a fine balance because if it’s too literal or too predictable, it’s horrible.