In fashion, it’s not enough to be incredibly creative. It’s a brutal industry, so a good head for business is equally crucial. Many great designers have faltered or failed from too much of one and too little of the other ~ but the really lucky ones know to team up with a partner who compliments their talents with serious business savvy.
It’s a formula that worked for Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, Valentino and Giancarlo Giammetti, Marc Jacobs and Robert Duffy ~ and it’s working for Reece Solomon and Max Stein. We introduced you to the Reece Hudson designer earlier this week and showed you how I wear my favorite of her bags. But we saved the best for last! Below, her business partner Max Stein gives us a frank and fascinating peek into how the two have built their business, one evil daydream at a time…
How did you guys meet?
I went to college with one of Reece’s best childhood friends. We met in New York in the summer of 2006.
What were you doing before founding Reece Hudson?
I had recently graduated from college and moved to New York. I spent some time interning at Men’s Vogue, and then doing some freelance work for a few other publications and brands, while trying to figure out a career.
Whose idea was it to launch the collection?
Reece had designed and produced a few sample bags as part of an accessories class at Parsons. I remember going with her to coffee and she told me that a store in LA had seen the samples and wanted to make a small order. From there we sat and put together a very informal business plan – a loose structure of how we saw the company on the inside and the brand on the outside.
What was the biggest challenge in initially getting it off the ground?
There are obviously one million challenges in any business. I think our hardest was finding the right production resources. Reece always has great ideas, but finding factories that can realize those ideas correctly, timely, with quality, and in the quantities and price points that work is not easy. We started with production in New York, as that was where our business was founded and located, but fairly quickly we were forced to obsessively research alternate options, which ultimately landed our production in Italy.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known then?
I wish I understood the business behind the business more. Fashion is certainly creative, but I think from the consumer level it seems less business-obsessive than it really is. I would recommend to anyone thinking of starting a brand – step one is a subscription to WWD. Also read all the books – the Ralph Lauren book, the Gucci book, the Versace book, Terri Agin’s The End of Fashion.|ABOVE| Reece Hudson fringed Rider bag, Siren backpacks and mini bags
How do you divide responsibilities?
Reece oversees all the design, creative, and production. I handle business development, including press and sales. From the beginning we were very clear about outlining responsibilities. One of the first things we ever put on paper was a list of every imaginable responsibility, and which one of us was responsible for taking the lead for each thing. I think that was incredibly important and helpful.
You two just graduated from the CFDA Incubator program. What was the greatest lesson that experience gave you?
The most important challenge for young brands is to know your identity inside and out, be able to communicate that clearly to the people you work with and your consumers. Not only product, but everything you put out into the world – websites, printed materials, the way you package your goods, the florist you use. It does not happen overnight, and it is a constant evolution, but it is something that deserves a lot of energy.
|ABOVE| Rider mini fringe crossbody bags
How is life different post-Incubator?
Our time in the Incubator program is definitely over, but the great thing about the CFDA is that that relationship is never really over. Also, we are so lucky to have found a much larger and gorgeous light-filled studio in Soho.
Career highlight (so far)?
Hosting Linda Evangelista at our studio, and then dressing her for events including the CFDA Awards.
How has the industry changed since you’ve been in it?
It feels that each year the industry moves faster and faster. The pre-collections have become formal presentations, more deliveries, not only campaigns, but also corresponding ‘films’, new social media channels everyday, e-commerce… When you are small, you have limited resources. I think it is important to figure out what is right for you, and do that incredibly well, rather than trying to have a hand in everything.This morning I woke up early
My favorite artist is Donald Judd
My business mentor is Kyle Andrew, of Kate Spade Saturday
My style icon is Mordechai Rubinstein
My favorite daydream is evil
The thing that would surprise people most about my job is how many different things I do everyday
I’d like to steal a Tesla
Every woman should own a Reece Hudson bag
Every man should own cologneMy top beauty essential is Into The Gloss
My fashion pet peeve is hybrid clothing ~ sneaker heels, sweatshirt blazers, and the like.
I’d love to have a chance to work with Graydon Carter
My favorite place to shop is Prada
The key to life is work hard, relax hard
Right now, I’m obsessed with my new TempurPedic mattress
Vintage is for denim and flannel