By Michael Hinkelman
Philadelphia Daily News.
LIZ RYMAR, 32, of Huntingdon Valley, is founder and designer of the fashion brand ellelauri, with retail stores in Center City and Avalon, N.J.
The contemporary clothing is also sold online and on Amazon. All clothing is manufactured in New York’s garment district. ellelauri’s clothes have also been worn by celebrities, including Jessica Alba and Kim Kardashian.
Q: How’d the idea for ellelauri originate?
A: After college, I worked for a swimwear designer in New York in sales. I realized I had a passion for design and took classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology and London College of Fashion. That’s where I came up with ideas for my first line and a business plan in 2007.
Q: Startup money?
A: I saved while I lived in New York and launched in 2009 with about $8,000 and worked from my apartment. We began as wholesalers, designed our collections and sold them to other stores and also at our website. Our first store opened in Avalon in April 2013.
Q: Describe the brand.
A: We’re an affordable, luxury lifestyle brand for women of all ages. When we started, we were geared to professional women, 20s and 30s, but now have college kids coming with moms and both buy stuff. We complement our brand with designer denim and dresses from California designers that pair with our line.
Q: The biz model?
A: The success of the Avalon store enabled us to open in [The Shops at Liberty Place]. We manufacture and design in New York. The Center City store opened last October as a pop-up but was so successful we extended our lease. Most sales come from our brand stores, website and also through Amazon.
Q: How much do clothes cost and what’s popular?
A: A lot of our signature pieces, like silk blouses, pair well with other clothes. Our price point ranges from $99 for a silk blouse to between $140 and $220 for dresses. A popular piece now is a charmeuse jumpsuit for $130.
Q: How do you manufacture clothes in New York and sell them for an affordable price?
A: When I lived in New York, I made good contacts and have been working with the same two factories since starting.
Q: What’s been the biggest challenge growing the biz?
A: I wear many hats and one is hiring. Sometimes it’s hard to find the right fit.
Q: How big a biz is this? A: Right now, we have 11 employees, including two who are seasonal. Our sales are up 30 percent this year over last year.
Q: What’s next?
A: We’re opening a design studio in Hatboro. We’re moving some of our production in New York there in September. The studio’s in an old garage and we’ll be able to use the front for sample sales. We want to open more of our own brand stores.