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Joe Zee on Nicole Miller


Her Challenge: Nicole Miller is a totally different case study altogether. First of all, she isn’t struggling at all in the same sense as the other designers I’ve worked with. She’s a hugely successful brand that is already carried in every major department store with incredible sales. So where does my role come in exactly? I wanted to help Nicole make her business EVEN BIGGER. The reality no matter how big your business is, there’s always room to grow, improve and capitalize on what’s going on. For me – and this is something collaborated by Nicole’s CEO, Bud Koenheim – Nicole’s business is made up primarily of all her incredible special occasion dresses but what I wanted to do was raise the awareness of her sportswear collection. Imagine the possibilities of every department store carrying your sportswear to the same degree with which they carry your special occasion dresses. That would be a recipe for ultimate success and Nicole had the brand recognition and power to do it. And in order to raise that level of wantedness and desire, it would start with the influencers: those girls shopping in their 20′s. And we would give them exactly that for this year’s Fashion Week: Present a collection that highlighted only her sportswear with the hopes that it will be equally if not better received by the industry. That was my goal.

Lesson Learned: I will start by saying I learned a lot working with Nicole. This wasn’t my usual three person company. This was a huge company made up of hundreds of employees, design, marketing and sales teams, sample rooms, etc. I learned very quickly that if Nicole wanted something to happen, it would. And that was Nicole’s dedication. She was there everyday leading up to Fashion Week, sleeves rolled up, carrying bolts of fabric from room to room. She was IN IT and I loved witnessing that level of passion and dedication. In the end, Nicole really listened and worked tirelessly in tapping into that 20-something customer we were looking for.

Next Steps: Be Consistent. Nicole had a great outing at Fashion Week with our 80′s inspired sportswear collection. It was cool, hip and as the blogs pointed out, screaming to be worn. That was exactly the response we were looking for but as we all know, Rome wasn’t built in a day and a preception of a brand – especially a large brand like Nicole Miller – requires a consistent vision over time. I’m excited to see how Nicole Miller evolves over time from this sensibility because I know – and saw – that when Nicole sets her mind to something, there’s no doubt it will get done.