Typhaine Zagoreos, Founder and CEO, Typhaine Handbags

Going solo works to this entrepreneur's benefit.

nPost.com: Can you give us a littlebackground on Tysabel and what your future plans are?

Zagoreos: Yes, Tysabel wasfounded two years ago. It was the combination of [my former partnerand my] names, Typhaine and Isabel. As of a month ago, we havesplit, and I am now designing under the Typhaine label.

nPost.com: What was thereason for the split?

Zagoreos: Basically, Iwanted to move a little faster than she was willing to. I wanted togrow the business and focus on it full time. At the time of thesplit, we were each dedicating different amounts of time and effortto Tysabel.

nPost.com: With the split,are you currently competing against each other?

Zagoreos: Not to myknowledge; she is not doing handbags right now. What we hadn'tbeen doing was going to trade shows, which is what is required totake it to the next step. We had started the company doing bagparties.

nPost.com: Similar to Avonand Tupperware?

Zagoreos: Yes, which wasgreat for the beginning of the company, because they immediatelygenerated cash flow. Through the bag parties, we were able to sellthe handbags at retail prices vs. wholesale, which madesignificantly more money and generated much more cash than we couldhave through a retailer. The problem at the same time was thatbecause we weren't in the stores, we weren't able togenerate a significant amount of cash to maintain operations.

The difference between Tysabel and Typhaine is [I'mstriving] to get my bags into stores. I have signed up for tradeshows, which will enable me to get out in front of the key buyersfor the retail chains. These trade shows bring together buyers fromacross the U.S. and abroad.

nPost.com: So you are usingthis opportunity to really catch the eye of potential partners todevelop long-term relationships?

Zagoreos: Exactly.

nPost.com: You have alsohired a new manufacturer. Can you give us a little detailthere?

Zagoreos: Previously, mybusiness partner's family had a manufacturing company inupstate New York. This was very useful and educational for us. Wedid not come from a design or manufacturing background, didn'tknow what we were doing in working with manufacturers. Having thisconnection with a manufacturer gave us the ability to attack thelearning curve quickly and efficiently.

We started very slowly, learning the business over time. Weworked closely with everyone from the pattern maker to the sewer tofigure out the intricacies of this business. The benefit of this isthat we also had full control over the whole process. As it turnedout, the largest cost associated with this type of product is thelabor associated with the sewing of the fabric.

A downside of this relationship was that it took precious timeaway from growing the business. It was necessary for me tocontinually be driving to upstate New York to work with themanufacturer, and this time was very much needed for me to spend inmarketing and selling the business.

nPost.com: Was that the mainreason then for the split? You wanted to focus on growing thebusiness and taking it to the next step?

Zagoreos: That, and I wantedmore control over the process. I felt I could make the decisionsmuch more quickly if it were just me. Every decision required ajoint conversation. As it works out, it is great not having apartner 85 percent of the time, but the remaining 15 percent of thetime it would be extremely nice to be able to take a breather.

nPost.com: Have you beenable to identify your market for these bags?

Zagoreos: Originally Ithought young urban women between the ages of 20 and 40. As itturns out, we had a lot of customers who were younger and olderthan we thought they were, and a lot of them were not even urban. Asignificant portion of our sales were in the suburban market.

nPost.com: How does thisinformation change your marketing strategy--does this change whichstores you will be going after?

Zagoreos: Well, it is a loteasier to sell to suburban stores. Especially when I wasapproaching the stores on an informal basis, the suburban storeswere much more open and eager to speak to me because they don'thave designers knocking on their door every day. Unlike New Yorkstores, where there are tons of designers selling their productsdirectly to them, in the suburban market it is much more of anovelty.

If you step out of New York City, people are friendlier and wantto see what you have to offer. They are much more willing to placea small order and give your product a try. They are thrilled atknowing [someone] who they can quote as a hot up-and-comingdesigner, and they feel as if they have found you.

nPost.com: It is a much morepersonal relationship.

Zagoreos: Exactly, and thebuyers at this level really like that. I don't know what it isgoing to be like at the trade shows. The buyers are going to besurrounded by new designers. I am hoping that it will be a loteasier and that it will work. Though, if [it doesn't], I willprobably hire an on-road sales representative.

nPost.com: When you say youare targeting suburban stores, would that be megastores or smallboutiques?

Zagoreos: Localizedboutiques, though I would like to target large retail chains suchas Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, etc. The problem is that they arevery particular about the orders they get in, and for a smallcompany, it would be too large of a risk to put all my eggs in onebasket. If everything isn't correct, they may deny payment,which would essentially kill my company.

With fashion, you don't want to grow too quickly. I amreally targeting longevity for Typhaine Handbags.

nPost.com: So you are notquite ready for the cover of Vogue?

Zagoreos: I have alwayswanted my [own] company, and being on the cover of Vogue would begreat, but it is not what I am driving for.

nPost.com: Which aspects ofthe business do you enjoy the most? Creative, managerial, etc.?

Zagoreos: I would love to beable to direct the company from a creative as well as a managerialperspective. I truly enjoy being involved in every aspect of thecompany, although I do not want to be involved in the day-to-dayoperations.

nPost.com: How did you firstgo about marketing the handbag parties?

Zagoreos: We started off byselling to friends and family, and from there it started to reallytake off. We started an e-mail list, and toward the end, Iwouldn't know half the people that were at the events. One ofthe woman on the list worked at CitySearch.com and put it on the"Sample Sale" list, and that generated a hugeresponse.

The interesting thing is that CitySearch had done a piece onTysabel prior to that, but we received a very disappointingresponse. With the focused PR we received in the Sample Sale listthough, it was amazing. This taught me that we really have to bevery selective and targeted when marketing our product.

Nathan Kaiser is founder and CEO of nPost.com, a Web sitethat features interviews with company and industry leaders,focusing on the issues and opportunities facing theirorganizations.

Editor's Pick

Everyone Wants to Get Close to Their Favorite Artist. Here's the Technology Making It a Reality — But Better.
The Highest-Paid, Highest-Profile People in Every Field Know This Communication Strategy
After Early Rejection From Publishers, This Author Self-Published Her Book and Sold More Than 500,000 Copies. Here's How She Did It.
Having Trouble Speaking Up in Meetings? Try This Strategy.
He Names Brands for Amazon, Meta and Forever 21, and Says This Is the Big Blank Space in the Naming Game