Like lingerie? Ann Deal does, her newest innovation can be found in any retail store in the United States.
Tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?
I am [Ann Deal] the founder of Fashion Forms, and we create intimate apparel solutions for women such as the Original Water Bra and the Wrap Bra, the world's first strapless bra that does not fall down. We own more patented items than any other single entrepreneur in the intimates industry and are in just about every major retail chain and specialty store in America.
When did you start the business?
We started in 1987, with the name Freedom Forms in Florida and initially we only had one product the Adhesive Body Bra; then in 1993 we had outgrown our Florida home, and re-located the company to California under the new name, Fashion Forms
What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?
I started out as a lingerie manufacturer's sales rep, and then I became a buyer at Rich's department store in Atlanta.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
Having a passion for what you do is the most important factor in your success.
How did you come up with your business idea?
After buying for Rich's, I realized there was a missing niche in the intimates industry. With changing fashions, plunging necklaces and backless gowns, I knew the intimate apparel industry would have to evolve to accommodate this, and I saw an opportunity.
Who did you hire to help you? Bookkeeper, Accountants, Lawyers …? Would you suggest others do the same?
When I wanted to expand internationally, I looked to my CPA for advice. We were interested in expanding into France in Galeries Lafayette. To maintain control of my European operation, rather than deal with burdensome taxes and cross border complications, my CPA advised that I apply for dual citizenship, which I now have. Having these resources on your team are a key element of my success strategy.
With the current economy in a slump, what cost saving tips would you have for a new entrepreneur?
I think it's important to recognize your strengths and maximize the opportunities that exist around them. Right now, even through times are tough, we've still sold incredibly well, particularly in the US where we are sold in Walmart and Saks Fifth Avenue. The kinds of dresses in fashion at the moment such as sleeveless and backless need bra solutions, and it's easy to pick up one of our products without spending a lot of money to look really great.
Have you outsourced any portion of your business? Has that worked for your business?
Because of the sheer volume of items that Fashion Forms creates, we do our manufacture our items abroad. I travel approximately 20 days a month to ensure quality control, shop trends and expand our factory base when we need to.
What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?
Staying creative. We are always looking for a novel approach; thinking of new ways to solve problems, in a way that excites consumers. After all, the Fashion Forms' motto is "imagination is our foundation."
Once again, thank you for your time Ann, we hope you continue to succeed!