Across industries, companies rise and fall, either meeting market changes and flourishing with success or fizzling out, unable to accommodate consumer and market demands. Success in the world of fashion means staying on trend—predicting what consumers want before they realize it. According to Fast Company, innovation in the fashion world directly relates to delivering stylish results to consumers and industry alike. Steven Spolansky, founder and CEO of Amiee Lynn, Inc., a New York City-based accessory company, shows us that making it in fashion takes more than just an eye for style.
Humble Beginnings, Infinite Growth
In 1993, Steven Spolansky embarked on a business journey that would define his career. With knowledge learned from his family about running a business and his mother’s basement as his first office space, Spolansky founded a wholesale belt company. In a short time, the company saw significant growth, attracting the interest of Spolansky’s brother Michael, who had recently sold a company of his own.
“After Michael saw that I had the right work ethic and the company’s quick success, he was excited to jump on board,” Spolansky says. “From there, we hired a team and expanded our office space.”
More than 20 years later, Steven Spolansky is the CEO of Amiee Lynn Inc., an innovative fashion company specializing in accessories and legwear. Each of the company’s fi ve divisions focuses on delivering quality products at the price points consumers value. The divisions include:
> Amiee Lynn Belts
> Lakes Shore Drive (Belts and Jewely)
> 29 Palms (Soft Accessories)
> Fair Weather Accessories (Cold Weather Accessories)
> Gembella (Jewelry)
In addition to these five divisions, Amiee Lynn also has a wholly owned legwear subsidiary, Leg Apparel, which specializes in hosiery, legwear, and socks. Now Amiee Lynn Inc. products are featured in major department stores, specialty stores and online retailers. Adding divisions to Amiee Lynn meant a more diverse offering to buyers, a type of one-stop shop for stores looking to sell a plethora of accessories to their customers.
“Historically, when belt sales have slowed down as a result of trends, sales of necklaces and other accessories tend to increase,” Spolansky says. “With our multiple divisions and broad portfolio, Amiee Lynn is able to off set these market changes and cater to trends across the fashion spectrum.”
Since its inception, Amiee Lynn has grown to a three-floor location adjacent to Manhattan’s Garment District, with team offices and product showrooms, and two facilities in New Jersey that include logistical departments and warehouse distribution. Amiee Lynn also has distribution centers in North Carolina and Canada, as well as offices in China.
When Trends Rule the Market, the Team Matters Most
Spolansky cites Amiee Lynn’s top-down start for its early success, as the team was able to make changes quickly and maneuver around market changes and industry trends. He prioritizes and encourages innovation at every level, from warehouse employees and marketing professionals to C-level leaders. Each division of products has its own set of teams to tackle all aspects of business, including:
> Customer Service
> Product Development
> Sales and Marketing
Team members also travel to Europe and Asia to work with suppliers and ensure high quality is delivered with every product. Product developers examine current and upcoming trends in the market to stay ahead of the curve. These initiatives result in fewer days in the production and supply chain, allowing Amiee Lynn to deliver products to customers faster.
As a leader, Spolansky encourages great ideas and keeps the business from having too many layers that prevent forward movement. “In our company, everyone has access to everyone else,” Spolansky says. “Everyone has an open-door policy, which leads to seamless communications.”
For day-to-day business, Amiee Lynn employees are encouraged to exercise authority and responsibility within their own positions. Everyone is expected to make decisions that better the company and their own teams. And when mistakes happen? According to Spolansky, that’s okay too. His philosophy: Mistakes may happen, but allowing team members the freedom to innovate keeps Amiee Lynn from becoming stagnant in the industry.
Making the Connection
In the fashion industry, major retailers employ buyers to plan what merchandise to purchase and sell to consumers in their store, whether that store is a small boutique or a major mass-market retailer. The buyers are an integral part of the process, as they must be up to date on trends, competitors, and consumer purchasing patterns to ensure their business has the best products of the season. For Amiee Lynn, maintaining strategic relationships with buyers is essential.
During market week, buyers from retailers can visit Amiee Lynn’s product showroom in Manhattan to peruse products and determine if they are the right fit for that retailer. This in-person contact with products helps the buyers truly see what will be sold on the store’s sales floor.
Because Amiee Lynn’s divisions offer a diverse line of products from belts to scarves to jewelry and more, the company delivers on numerous trends, all under the same umbrella. Buyers often prefer this one-stop approach, as Amiee Lynn can fulfill many needs with efficiency and accommodate needs without buyers engaging with multiple vendors at once.
“In our industry, we are always dealing with change,” Spolansky says. “Maintaining relationships with buyers and planners strengthens our credibility and helps us stay a step ahead of supply and demand.”
Past Challenges, Today’s Innovations and Beyond
Just before the 2008 economic recession, Amiee Lynn acquired two accessory companies to expand the business. When the market crashed shortly after, transitioning two new companies into the Amiee Lynn portfolio was a challenge. According to Spolansky, the timing could not have been worse from a business standpoint. After working with the two new companies, Amiee Lynn leaders realized that one of the new acquisitions wasn’t the right cultural fit for the business.
“The lesson learned? How important corporate culture is for Amiee Lynn,” Spolansky says. “We realized that an acquisition was viable but not the right fit, so we were able to come out of the situation in good standing.”
In contrast, an acquired hosiery division was the perfect fit within the company, resulting in an eight-time volume increase since the time of purchase. For the future, Spolansky and his team hope to replicate that success with new acquisitions and continue to build upon strategic partnerships. The company is also looking to encourage development of products that stay relevant year round, despite weather and trend changes, and further complement product lines that have already found success. Innovation continues to be essential for the business, as the Amiee Lynn team is always looking to improve the business infrastructure, elevate product quality, and increase distribution channels worldwide.
Outfitted for Success
At Amiee Lynn, innovation is instrumental to the success of the business. The company focuses on three major initiatives to meet customer needs and drive success:
> Product Development and Merchandising
With more than 20 years of experience in the industry, the Amiee Lynn team excels in design and manufacturing a variety of accessories. According to Amiee Lynn, the goal is to create the best product possible at the most affordable price point.
> Sales and Marketing
Amiee Lynn uses innovative strategies to accommodate both high end and mass-market shopping experiences. The Sales and Marketing teams manage accounts and partnerships as well as keep product fl ow on track.
> Sourcing and Production
With connections in Shanghai and Hong Kong, Amiee Lynn sees production development from the beginning to the end of the process. Trends are easily identified and accommodated with quick turn-around time and high quality.
At a Glance—Amiee Lynn Inc.
> Privately owned wholesale Fashion Company
> Founded as a belt company in 1993 by Michael and Steven Spolansky
> Now includes five accessory divisions and one legwear subsidiary
> License with numerous major fashion brands, including Nine West, Lucky Brand, and Feild & Stream
> Partners with renowned departments stores and specialty chains, including Macy's, Walmart, Target, and Lord & Taylor
For more information about Amiee Lynn Inc., visit amieelynn.com.
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