Vital Stats >> Daniella Simon, 30, of Daniella Simon
Company >> New York City-based company offering lingerie, sleepwear, loungewear, and maternity and nursing apparel
2006 Projected Sales >> Approximately $1.8 million
Saying "I Do" >> Seven years ago, Simon, a corporate attorney, couldn't find any "bridal underwear" that appealed to someone her age. "I was a young bride, looking for something young, flirtatious, classy and a little sexy," she says. "I couldn't find anything like that." After her own wedding, Simon started designing daywear and lingerie as wedding shower gifts for friends. "Before I knew it, I was getting orders from friends and friends of friends from across the country," she says. "I then realized I had something special, [so] I called the buyer at Bloomingdale's." She did a trunk show at Bloomingdale's, exhibited at her first trade show and quit her job to focus on her new business full time. In January 2006, Simon appeared on QVC with eight styles--the first of which sold out in 10 minutes.
Laws of Lingerie >> Though Simon is good at drawing and sketching, her background in law didn't completely transfer to design and fashion. "What I can't do well, I delegate," she says. "Part of knowing how to make a business succeed is knowing your strengths and weaknesses."
Find Your Niche >> "I found a tiny niche to get into: bridal lingerie for young brides," Simon says. "Once I got into the niche, I expanded." Her initial designs included tank tops and cotton panties embellished with the words bride, just married and the bride's name in rhinestones. Next, Simon branched out to pajamas and maternity and nursing apparel.
Going Small >> Simon was thrilled when she got into 15 Marshall Field's stores, but shortly after, the retailer was acquired and closed many of its locations. Because Simon had already been focusing on selling to boutiques, she didn't consider it a big setback. "Don't put all your eggs in one distribution basket," she says. Today, Simon's line is in more than 500 boutiques nationwide.
Liz Hamburg helps entrepreneurs launch new businesses as the founder and president of Upstart Ventures. She can be heard on WOR radio (710AM in New York) on Launchpad, a weekly segment focusing on entrepreneurs and small business.