Ms. Namita Nayyar: Your brand Erica M. creates intriguing, elegant bodywear, lingerie and tights. You design the products in New York and manufacture them in Italy. Your brand’s popularity has led to a legion of leg-wear devotees from around the country, from celebrities like Beyoncé, Dita Von Teese and Anne Hathaway, to trendsetter women in both metropolitan cities and suburbs. Can you tell us about this spectacular journey into the fashion industry?
Ms. Erica Young: I was born and raised in Hollywood, Calif., I earned my Bachelor of Arts degree in Fashion Design at the California College of the Arts. I continued my studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and, applied my design skills to creating footwear for seven years for various brands. My travels for work took me to different countries in Asia where I bought funky, avant-garde tights.
Fast forward to the wake of what I call a “mediocre date” where I snagged my favorite tights on a tree branch while getting out of a car. Frustrated by not being able to purchase a replacement pair online, I began sketching what I believed was missing from the market in the U.S. It was the genesis of Erica M., the brand, and it ultimately led to the creation of my first collection.
When I first started my brand and before I had a history of sales, my target customer was a metropolitan women in her late 20’s. It was an amazing surprise to realize how large my demographic actually was. Not only had I attracted women in their late 20’s, but also women who are in their 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s as well as men, a number of them being in the LGBTQ community. It proved to me that many people, despite their age, sex, and sexual orientation are interested in my products and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
Ms. Namita Nayyar: Before starting Erica M., you worked as a footwear designer for several brands. Tell us how was your life different back then being a footwear designer?
Ms. Erica Young: I worked with a small team of designers and we spent a lot of time traveling together. We would spend practically half the year developing the footwear we designed in South Korea and China since we were not only designing but developing our own designs directly with factories. It was a life changing experience where I had the chance to learn about different cultures but more importantly I learned a lot about myself during those years.
It was grueling to say the least, always traveling, overseeing several projects all at once. I learned what dedication and perseverance really meant during those years. When I was not overseas I was traveling with the sales team doing presentations to help sell the collections. It shaped me into the designer and business women I am today and for that reason I am very thankful for that experience.
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