Lafayette 148 New York: Fantastically Vertical
This is American fashion podcast. I'm Charles Beckwith your with Kathy Chapas and the artist in the studio is one of the founders of Lafayette. One four eight. Lafayette is off one. Forty eight or one. Four eight yeah. Lafayette when forty eight. Okay Which was founded in Nineteen ninety-six in Soho at Lafayette One? Forty Eight Which is a street address? Correct but Recently moved over to the Brooklyn Navy Yard and has an amazing complex inside the Brooklyn. Navy Yard So deirdre Quinn is here. She's the Ceo of Lafayette One. Forty eight Hydra. Hi there tell us a little bit about your company okay. Well we are a global luxury lifestyle brand Led by women for women and the whole purpose of starting. The company was to be a vertical operation vertical. Meaning that we make everything ourselves So from start to finish we. We're able to control the process of manufacturing as well and you know we although we were founded in New York City. The company sort of outgrew the building and also knew that. We wanted to reinvest in some retail and in order to do that A. and Being a privately owned company. We're quite conservative. We decided to if we moved over to Brooklyn our rent. When I started the company it was nine dollars. A Square foot Twenty three years later it was ninety dollars a square foot so expensive so kind of expensive. So we we just you know. How do you re- reinvest in Your Business Model? So you know the number one expense for the company. Is the product the number two expenses? The people and number three was the rent so we went for number three because we didn't want to touch one into And found mazing hundred thousand square feet in the Brooklyn Navy Yard which is eight minutes by Uber from Lafayette Street and we collectively made a decision that this was great and we went to save money. But what we found was being on one floor completely changed the communications and the dynamics of how we work as a group so the culture which I think in today's world is such an important part of a business Our culture got better. It was good but it got great. Can you talk a little bit more about being a conservative business? Because I think a lot of people think about financing immediately when they're starting a business lately but but you haven't touched much of that well you know the first five years were really hard for the company and so not being Not Having the capital investments that may be other people had. We had to learn to live within our means. So what we would do. Is You know what we make. We would reinvest into the business. And so what what does is your growth is is more organic. Because you decide how you're going to grow how you're gonNA invest in in different areas when you want to grow and you don't WanNa you know. Look we all make mistakes? There's always a percentage of rnd and things that happened in in our business that you didn't predict but you know definitely we thought we needed a million dollars to start the company and ten million later we ran out of money and that was weird ca fears. You know the first five years Taught us a lot about what we didn't want to do in the future and you had to co-founders in the beginning I did and the Chinese AMERICANS SO MR and Mrs Sue were husband and wife team that manufactured clothes for me throughout my career Working at La's clayborn Donna. Karen Dana Buckman. So they were always there. They were always that jacket factory and yours needed great jacket in our industry That I could count on. You know they. They might have not been the cheapest factory because they were in New York City but they were reliable. Their quality was incredible and they were really nice. People that you could count on and so that relationship I kept throughout all the years whether or not I made close with them. 'cause it eventually. I moved to Hong Kong and started working for Germans and Italians and they didn't WanNA manufacturer New York so we just stayed friends and when it came back they asked me if I wanted to start a business with them and just the thought of not having to travel all over the world finding cheaper factories and being able to control the quality. The delivery the products Was Right up my alley. And they were just amazing. People that moved to America when they were in their teens they are forty years in America. They were you know They were that generation. Just like my parents were that came to the US to sort of you know. Build their dream In funding and in this case they ended up having to go back to their hometown. After forty years to rebuild our dream because in order to be competitive we had to move the factory if we wanted to stay vertical and you have an amazing sustainable complex in China. We have a fabulous. What you've built there. Yeah talk about that from the beginning and just training and what? That was what that was like. It's kind of fascinating okay. So you know We went over. Actually it was right after nine eleven and by the end of two thousand and one Mr Mrs Sue went home for the holidays and then he called me and told me he wanted to move the factory and by May of two thousand and two He flew me over there for one night to see the factory which consisted of three sewers a cutter in oppressor and just wanted to know what I thought of the factory. I was pretty speechless but I was smart enough to know that you know I could count on him so I asked him what he thought. And he said we're going to be just fine and he made sure we were justifying. He went from Ten Thousand Square feet to twenty thousand to forty thousand to the next time I visited him. He pulled up to an empty lot. And said what do you think and it was like? What did you do any says like bought the land And we're going to build our own facility. I want a building that is earthquake. Proof that sustainable. That's got solar panels on the roof for energy that that I can be comfortable Building in so he proceeded in less than two years to build a two hundred forty thousand square foot manufacturing facility that is state of the art incredible and today houses fifteen hundred people twelve hundred of which are sewers And you know anyone that visits it and plenty of important people have been from you know from the president. Fit's been there to to Mac Baucus. Who was the US ambassador to China and they all come there just to see what we've done and you know You know in our industry people just assume. Oh is it you know. Is it an acceptable factory? It's beyond acceptable. It's it's the pride of his hometown. So him and her really made a difference in their hometown. So was there a lot in terms of how he built the Culture In the quality of the factory in New York that was also taken there. And then you also side how to go so much. Further in terms of technology like to that. Just come naturally. No those are great questions. Because you know Mr superbeing factory New York City Was was getting smaller and smaller over the years. So technology was always a really important part of staying and surviving. So he was. He was ahead of his time in investing in whether it the Italian pressing machines or or or automatic cutting machines like all of this was sort of early. It was in his culture. Anyway you know when I think in East West Culture you know he used to. The First Holiday Party I went to I was there was only two people that weren't Chinese at the party. And he said turned to me and he said someday I wanted to be fifty fifty and you know he got he. He dreamed he dreamed really big but he wasn't a dreamer. He was a man that also taught you how to get the job done. You know you can rely on him and so he went back to his hometown and brought an American culture of manufacturing and also started teaching some of the local factories. How he would do it how we would do in the USA so you know. There was just an incredible ability to give back to the town. I mean after the factory was up and running of course we started to become profitable which was extremely exciting because after five tough years it was like wow when we could do hand embroideries and we could do leather in knits and things that we couldn't do in New York so it really helped us build at lifestyle brand but along with you know along with that You know he. He had to set up everything everything right. You know. Every there's eleven floors in the building each floor has different Sort of manufacturing system. You know there's there's a jacket floor. There's a blouse floor. There is a panton skirt floor. You know he built a building without columns in it and I don't know if anyone can say they've seen a modern building in China with twenty thousand square feet per floor without columns. But that's what you get to do when you build your own building you. You didn't have to figure out how the machinery would be laid out around these polls. So you know He. He was very amazing man. He's passed away since he passed away. Seven years ago That was the hardest part of my career because I loved having a boss. I'd ask him loads of questions and he we. We never really disagreed. He was twenty years older than me. It was twenty years smarter than me and I used to tell him that After he got sick we only had eighteen months notice and in those eighteen months he came in every day had cancer so he had. You know his chemo treatments. Basically dripping you know under a shirt and he would sit in my office and asked me if I had any questions and he words questions keep a list of questions and every time he'd just go back at me and say well. What do you think we should do? And I'd answer the question and he say I completely agree with you and I wonder sometimes when I think back did he agree with me or did he just want to build my confidence building. Confidence and other people is a lesson that I learned from him and something that I tried to do. as I get to pass on to the next generation of how this industry works I know a lot of you have some extra time on your hands. And maybe you're looking for something good to listen to well. There is always the American fashion podcast archives as we rapidly approach are two hundred and fifty episode. Which will be released very soon Well over two hundred episodes in the archive wonderful interviews and stories. We've collected over the last several years top designers smart sales people marketing gurus just a whole menagerie of smart fashion. People telling their stories in there and during the health crisis. We've cut the price of our monthly subscription to the archives in half so go to American fashion podcast Dot Com and Click on archives to find the fashion together special. It's only three dollars and fifty cents per month right now and if you sign up that means you've locked in that rate for the future. Why three dollars and fifty cents. Well there's a lake in Scotland. So education was definitely a very important part of both of our world. All three of our world's was was giving back so the factory started to become profitable and within the first year. He wanted to do something for the local community so he found a school that was privately. Run and China. Private means poor. The public schools are where Everyone goes but if you move to Shanto and your migrant worker you don't qualify for the public school so you have to go to the private school they're underfunded and they don't have the money so These children were basically sitting on the ground. They weren't learning to read or write no basic skills and he no. He called me up and said look. I WanNa take over the school. I want to build it up. So we're pre K. till sixth grade We have we. We actually started out with like fifty children and we're up to two hundred three hundred and fifty children now So while that was going on at the same time I was asked to be on the board at. Fit Out ten years ago maybe twelve now And you know again it was. It was education. It was how do we mentor? How do we give back? How do we teach you know people what entrepreneurs do you know? I? I never really thought. It was an entrepreneur until I think Ernst Young gave me an award for entrepreneur of the year and I was like okay. I liked that okay. Because it's just you know it's swimming up a different stream so I think it was probably similar Mr Sue and I I don't just you know you don't just talk the talk. You walk the walk so we education would definitely be high on our list. No I noticed when we walked through your massive complex in the Navy Yard which I mean if anybody walks through a garment factory in Manhattan it. There's nothing like what you have over there. You question why you're even in the industry. It was shock and because it's so clean and open space and that seems different from from how things are in the garment center. Here in Manhattan. I would say that you know first of all. If you're given the chance I do feel like I've been given a chance to build something you want to build where you WanNa work. You want it to be a place that's home for everybody whether you know You know it's an an employee having a great experience or just reinvesting in the business. It's a constant reinvest of what we make back into the business and I there are smaller factories. That were in Chinatown back in the day that moved in and started helping us a blouse factory pant factory as they closed down their factories. They ran or sample room. And that was at state of the art Area where we we do make about four thousand garments a year in that room and we'll do tests and alterations and you have all this beautiful machinery and you just again. It's it's technology it's it's it's me and the Girls WanNA learn how to fix the machines. And how the pressing is is more modern and you can. It's all computerized now so you know I. I think it's it's you can't be left in the past. You must learn to drive a new car and use a cell phone well. That's the thing that I noticed. Was you had art teams that were making actual magazines. You're still doing print catalogs and able can request a print catalogue from your website. How does that work in today's world? How do you think about that? Well I definitely Number one is the customer. She has a lot of choices. She can go anywhere anytime she wants so we wanted to sort of help her along the journey and in two thousand eight we. We decided you know we. We weren't ready to open retail because we had opened retail stores. When started the company? We opened five in ninety six ninety seven and ninety eight. We closed all five. So you know that was a big mistake. We learn fast and and I guess we could be happy that we waited so long. We decided instead. How do we get directly to her? So we launched the catalog business and that catalog drives the business to our website and the customer can call we. We moved the call center in House so we can control who she speaks to. She'll speak directly to a Lafayette employees. That is in the Navy Yard. We don't even outsource the calling to employees in another state that for now. It's right there you know I can walk in that call center and I do. I try to get down there at least once a week. If not twice a week just to hear. What does she want? What's the problems I mean is rates is my favorite thing ever we we get at least ten to twenty day with the customer telling us what she likes what she doesn't like what we do. Great what we can do better. And I think that's all part of controlling your destiny and again making sure that you understand who she is. How extensive is your vertical integration? Do you own your textile mills. How how many vendors do you still use? That are outside of your company. So we definitely don't make the fabrics but we control who we buy from. You never know. We control who we buy them from. You know when when you talk about sustainability we have choices as as companies about what we buy and who we buy it from and if it costs a little bit more to do the right thing to make sure that they're certified. We're totally doing the right thing you know we. We are very loyal as a company so I buy the same white shirt fabric for the last twenty four years from the same mill. The same flannel. You know. We don't switch it because somebody says well I could make it and I can make it cheaper because it's not just about the price it's about the relationship. I want to be able to pick up the phone and say you know what we need. Another ten thousand yards of white shirt fabric like next week. Can you get it for me? And if you're loyal to them they are totally loyal back to you. But you've also incorporated a lot of new Fabrics in your collection or at least it seemed. It seemed that way. So how are you finding Because I know a lot is from Italy not made in Italy but so how are you finding the European market responding to sustainability l? They definitely ahead of ahead of the curve. Net I mean they. They've been doing this for furlong time. Like I would say ten years already. You know they. They have much more strict restrictions. But you know China has gotten so much better as well in Dubai. You know whether it's linings are Inter linings or silk from China also I'd say you know eighty percent of what we buy is still from Italy You know look the prices get higher and higher and as a as a CEO. I basically have to direct people into you know what we believe in. And what what we stand for and you know going into the designer market which is sort of where we're definitely opening price point designer I we don't just look at the price of the fabric. We let we because we're vertical. Our minimums are really low. I mean we could do twenty thirty pieces of a style which is unheard of you know just to run it and then we can. You Know Special. Cut in order one piece if we want. I mean the factory was built for the needs of Lafayette it's not like Lafayette. Then has a factory. It's our factory and it does whatever we need. And there's no conflict of interest where most factories have. I don't care it's ten brands. It's fifty brands. You know so. They don't get to focus all their energy. So what we trade off may be in buying more expensive raw materials. We save inefficiencies in everybody focusing on one quality and one label placement in one hang tag placement because every company has different rules. You know on everything down to the extra button so I think that you know for us. It's our company is known for its price value relationship and that is definitely from being vertical. And you know that is strength of ours. So for your online orders are you doing fulfillment here or doing it in China. Who sells you? We have eighty thousand square feet in Brooklyn Army terminal. Saris joke around say replaying. An Army Navy Game Kaz. Maternal is a little further at sunset park. But we've been out there. Eighteen years and all of our fulfillment is done from there except for a retail stores. In China we have fifteen stores in China and shipped directly from the factory to those stores. So the turn time for. China retail is even faster. I mean within a week they can. You know a lady walks in once custom-made pants and five colors. We can do it for her. And I know that that is a major advantage that we have so the Navy Yard and the Army Terminal and Industry City are all projects of the New York City Economic Development Corporation the DC not industry cities just the army terminal and the Navy Yard got some interest in industry city as well the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Okay maybe yeah. Yeah I know that that the the Navy Yard it's about location and that's run by not for profit And we're so happy that we're in there because it is not just anybody qualifies to get in there. You have to be you know technology or you have to be a an artist or RA manufacturer and they're very interested in the fashion industry And you know why. I know that. We made a difference by crossing the river. And they're hoping that others will cross You know I'm a big Fan. I have zero regrets of crossing the river but probably wouldn't went as far as a sunset park because you know designers WanNa see the skyline. They WANNA feel they're still in New York and It's close enough that that it wasn't such a risky move. I think moving to the army terminal. they're not ready for us yet. Yeah that's over an hour from Manhattan. Yeah whereas you have ferry service to the Navy Yard. Oh yeah so. Yeah it's it's inspiring. Boys are loving it. They're like Oh my God. We took the ferry home last night. I have yet to take it because I live across the street from the office. So I just basically wait to light changes and processed and so home being in that place. Where money's being dumped into to build industry And you have all these other culture pieces inside there in that ecosystem now. How has that changed your business or has it changed your business to have all those groups around you well. It definitely reminds you that you are an entrepreneur because the the the Navy Yard is all about being an entrepreneur but then within the Navy Yard. There's some really fun stuff like we didn't know. We were printing narrow ready. We were working with the goal. They have lots of printers but one of them is in the yard. So it's like awesome so we're already working in the yard ship. It will go over and get it you know. And then you know you get to see you know like Doug from Steiner Studios. I've had a tour of their operation. Amazing you know and then Wegmans opens and you know the employees are happy as we can all go and get great food from them and we're watching. The Yard evolve I got an email today from gentleman. cold cry precision that does somewhat like military things In his operations a lot of soldiers got a couple of hundred sewers. And you know he's like asking me about some of the integrations of technology and would I mind sharing what we're doing and it's like we're neighbors. Come on over you know. And I'm curious what what he's doing and you know. How hard is it to keep you know so many hundreds of sewers And stay competitive in New York. Because I don't think that that's easy to do. It's kind of amazing. I mean you're you are referring to yourself as an entrepreneur but here you have already established Catalog business director consumer business a retail. Business where you have free standing stores in store shops in a very strong wholesale business And you know a lot has changed and a lot of people have had a lot of issues problems. Business problems in the last five years people closing so on and so forth. So what was your secret and is kind of one question but the other thing is I had read an article. I don't know if it was in Forbes. We're they were writing about you and you spoke of How you know because you're stores in China Sarah. How the Chinese customer really kind of influence shoe strategically you know. A singular focus is critical You know lots of times you know. We've all seen companies by other companies and I certainly get the phone calls. People think we have a factory. We're looking for work Or you know what your sub label you know. We'RE GOING TO DO L. One forty eight next and I went. We're building one fabulous brand so it's about focus focus focus it's about You know this incredible team people you know I've had. I have people that have been with the company. Twenty four of our twenty four years and twenty three and twenty two like so. So you know I I. Sometimes I look around the company and I I think about. We don't really have secrets. The secret is what you've built. The secret is the people you know. You hear a lot in the Industry today. The three most important things number one is the product. I'm like check. We got it okay. Number two being controlling your your supply chain check on that one. I mean we're so vertical. I know that nobody else says and number three the culture of your company and so I feel really good about that. I think the you know the only thing that that you can't rely on is that things aren't going to change because they are totally going to change. So we're little more of the slow and steady and that definitely helps us We also in servicing fifty eight sizes. So you talk about like how many studies unbelie lot of inventory you know. Not If you're vertical gotten yes right minimum due so. We manufacture our petites enlarge sizes pretty much to order. You know their because we can. They're willing to wait there they they. They want good quality. And you know it's all it's all part of sort of not saying well we're not gonNA address those people. We want address everybody. We want to address them. No matter what size they are what occasion we can do evening. But we also have awesome Denham that we do you know and and then how do you evolve once you sort of like? How do you grow without like you know what's next right? So what's next for us? We're we're launching shoes for for fall. Which like in a significant way where we were playing with it. We were learning what the customer wants. What we learned as she wants the outfit from us you know we. We're going international. You know that's that's sort of a dream of mine but not where you run to twenty countries at the same time and the ad all the orders together and it doesn't total enough to make sense so you know that's where business sort of mind takes over and says okay guys. This is good but let's focus just like you. Focus on a brand. You've got to focus on your business model and you know not in a we. We have to outlet stores. You know. I don't need any more than to any off price goods from try. That is leftover in a retail. China comes to the USA. Because there's plenty of you know Chinese customers up in Woodbury common or that that that love us up there and you know it's a year later we don't we. We sit on our goods for a year before we put them in the outlets. And you know I'm really proud of that because what we're able to do is if you have extra fabric and you own factory you manufacture when it's good for the factory because you you most garment. Factories don't want to own or manage fashion designers and most fashion designers don't want the stress of owning a factory. I don't know if anyone does but You know we just have the right group of people together and and we're able to make it work and and to answer your second question or third I think It's about what happened when we went to China so we decided to go into retail in China before the USA. And we did that because we knew we could probably open ten stores for the cost of one China's a very different world. You can have a lease for six months or twelve months. The longest lease I've ever seen is three years and you know here it's like I think we've gotten it from ten years down to five with five option and maybe pop up stores came for that reason okay. China was definitely ahead of themselves. They get you in there and if you don't perform you're out even with the build out so so we learned okay what we needed to be and we learned quickly. We don't use an agent. We HAVE OUR OWN OFFICE. And so what we're able to do is By opening these retail stores there was no middle market in China. You're either a luxury brand or you're a local brand so we had a up our game and we had to go and be more luxury now. Design of course was thrilled about that because designers just they love the Lux and we said okay. Just GO BANANAS. And then we brought that luxury back to the USA and we'll have our accounts were like. Oh my God we want to. We want that too. So China actually helped the company move quicker into the luxury Area that we're in. So how many stores do you have in China versus the United States? Now so China has fifteen now We're opening three more this year. Were planning to open about three stores a year in China the USA's at nine and will open two to three stores here until We catch up. We think you know. Look the ultimate number for me. If I had. If I was to pick a number today I would say you know. Thirty stores in America would be perfect but again two to three a year organically done not. I got a lot of money. I'm going to roll it out like crazy and then the same thing in China. We've only closed one store in China since We started opening retail and one. We will be closing in the USA. And then you're in. How many doors across the country a couple of hundred? You know we we. We're we're in all the Sort of luxury department stores in the. Us Yeah may weren't embark amazing and sacks. Thank you you'll be happy. I mean positioning now. It's all different. Yeah your urine designer. Yeah and we think it's a beautiful space opening. Madison has will absolutely help the brand. You know when people say won't the the WHOLESALE PEOPLE BE UPSET? No they they you know. They come and they look like. Wow that looks great. Are we getting that? I mean the consumer awareness becomes even stronger when you open beautiful retail stores. People are like wow. I didn't know you did that. Or you know because maybe in a department store that's into different department where you know we get to show you one stop shopping but you know in the same thing our specialty stores. There's one hundred and fifty of them in the. Us We love them. We're very loyal to them. When we first dropped the catalog it was appeared to be a threat but at the end you know their customer can order from them. It's okay for us so you know at the everything sort of works out. If you're just open and honest with people and and you you you grow together. Also I think how identities happening in stores you know. There's no real bridge anymore. It's contemporary events contemporary and then designer. Right you know when we were in Tennessee and Nordstrom Nordstrom Regimens Nordstrom and Lafayette. One forty eight was right in front of Gucci. It's like wow yeah we actually you know what that was norstroms or great partners for us as well and and they decided that you know there was some brands that we're going to move into designer and we were thrilled that they recognize the direction that we were taking and we had to take a step backwards because it was less stores than we used to be in but honestly one step backwards two step forwards and there's a little bit of nerve wracking decision making that goes into that but being a privately owned company you know. I think the you know my bosses are my employees and how happy they are with the decisions that are made and you know we talk about it. You know it's it's it's there's a lot of opinions. I always joke around. There's one hundred forty eight opinions in the company and I'm really opening to listening to all of them and then sort of saying in this what we're GONNA do. It's often difficult to get a wholesale buyer to pick up something and they haven't picked up before even they by fifty things from you. There's twenty five things they haven't touched yet. But if you're doing direct to consumer you get metrics on those products and whether customers like them and you can actually show them to the wholesale Byron say look customers like this at. It's so much less of a risk to them you know. They trust us that when we say something is hot okay. It's like they want in on it too you know or there's luxury cities because a lot of these these were in forty doors or sixty doors so they You know there's pockets of different levels. There's like a BS and Cs and we have to make sure that the doors have the best of the best and you know their customers. Don't have resistance to the price or you know they just. They want more luxury because we are competing in luxury world and again we love that it has to make such a more interesting Effective relationship now because you both come to the table with feedback and information as opposed to before you just relied on often. Just what you were getting back from. The retailer It I think the specialty stores help us because they were there from the beginning actually before any department store and each specialty stores an owner of a business that comes in and spend their money and they are smart. They know who Mrs Jones is and what she wants and who who what they're buying you add all of them together and that is education on its own so we would do that then we would do trunk shows. We do hundreds of trunk shows a year. You know it's a different business model because I don't think a lot of brands that are as big as us. Maybe don't don't need that anymore. I never want to give that up. You never stopped running shows trunks. And how quickly do you turn around that merchandise from? Is that usually just a couple of months before the season opens? Yes tree trunk shows early reads. We'd like to start the MS early as possible So that we can then go back and and forecast fabrics and fabric is the biggest risk for the company. Because they don't have to make it if it didn't sell and then we can sit on the fabric and then we find out that the leopard print dresses really important. More important than the blouse will. Then let's cut more dresses. So you know the logistics behind figuring out manufacturing it can be really overwhelming or in the case that most of the owners were manufacturers. It becomes a strength for the company. So what was the difference for you between the stores? You opened quickly and closed in the nineties and the stores that you have now. What what was the difference in the game plan and end the lay of the land that you faced brand. We didn't have a brand. And Wow did we learn that quickly you know. Now it's like everything you can do to protect the brand because your brand. Is You know. It's really hard to build a brand. It would be really easy to ruin a brand. And so you know we become the protectors of the brand I didn't necessarily understand how important that was. Until we close those five stores and new learned quickly number one priority is going to have to be who you are who you're servicing and what you stand for as a brand and I'm so proud today because I know people know the brand now interview went back twenty four years ago. They're like what is it. Lafayette went forty six. Some like one forty eight so it was like crazy today. People know the brand. They know who we are. They they know who we and is really important for us. You talked about east. West routes for the company is that also reflected in the design of the products Not necessarily I mean there is a percentage of the business that is Just for the Asian market. I would say ten maybe fifteen percent. And that's that's strictly because they you know they they actually wear more long skirts than than Americans do or you know. It's it's funny the the little things they outerwear is a really important part of the China market. Whether it's down jackets double face coats. You know coach coats coates. Wow you know in the. Us coats are three percent of our business or may before. So you know we're we. We have to adapt to that market. And I'm sure as we go to Europe we might Nino probably need much more fashion So you you you learn along the way but I think for the main part These west culture is a little bit more about being an American. My partners are Chinese and you know but they lived in America and I lived in China. So we kinda get each other. It's it's you know I don't speak a word of Chinese zero. I never learned it but I I kind of know what they're saying you know yes doesn't mean yes. Sometimes you know it's it's funny you just it's it's it's like the. I always joke around. Say I think it was Chinese in a previous life for sure you definitely learn. Yes doesn't mean yes. In India very quickly they will say yes and then not do that. Ram So you're headquartered in an innovation center and you're doing direct to consumer and you're opening stores with with a lot of information ahead of time seems like your your brand from the future now but what do you think the future holds for your company. Where where do you want it to go? Now that you're you're in this position You know what I'd like to I'm still young and and I still love this business and I love what we've built and I don't think that we're going to go anywhere too fast. But there's a lot of excitement right now for all the years of hard work and what it took to stay consistent with your vision. So what is most important for me is to see what we as team can? Now do with this beautiful brand and I don't have pre meditated anything I just know that We got a car full of gas. That my wonderful business partner left us and I'm planning on driving it for this my last job in the industry. That's what I I tell everyone because it really is i. It's so who so hard to build what we built and so I'm planning on continuing to just build it organically you're much coming. Suspend THEM FASCINATING A. I'm sure people fascinated by hearing about your story How can our listeners? Connect with with your company and find you. Well definitely you can go on the website. And it's a Lafayette when forty eight dot com whether your customer is looking for an opportunity in the industry you contact our HR department I think you know if if if somebody wants to have a tour and sometimes we do tours. We do tours for school. Everybody should take a tour. It's really worth it. You know But we you know we try to group it. I I think you know We have a lot of things that we can still do. You know the Navy Yard is open on Saturdays for tours. I think once a month and you know I think we'll probably jump on being part of that so we embrace you know when people are coming out to Brooklyn and now really important people. They're all coming to Brooklyn and a lot of them. Haven't even been to Brooklyn you know it's shocking to me. You know malls across the country. That are now interested. You know if they WanNa talk to me or my team they have to come to Brooklyn so They come when they get there. They're so happy that they came so with great views of the city. And it's it's it's well worth the trip and thank you for noticing that because we're really proud of our new home. It was beautiful. This was very inspiring conversation. Thank you for listening to American fashion. Podcast on our website American fashion PODCAST DOT COM. 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