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Friday, Jun 24, 2022

Weekly Briefing

Cynthia Vincent was not yet in her 30s when she began making clothes for retailer Fred Segal. Several years later, she had her own company, St. Vincent Inc., and a growing reputation as a creator of “whatever I feel is current,” clothes that are “slightly edgy with a classic element.” For all her success, she has faced a nagging problem: Many of her orders come in after her official order deadline. Vincent spoke with Karen Teitelman about her most frustrating business problem.

I started my business through Fred Segal. I was working for someone else at the time, and John Eshaya, a buyer for the store, wrote me an order for 20 units of a skirt. He asked me who to make the order form out to, and I said “St. Vincent.” My last name is Vincent and it just came to me out of the blue, I don’t know why. I produced the skirts on my own, basically working on weekends and at night. I shipped them to the store on a Friday and on the following Monday, John called me and said they had sold out. He reordered 70 units. We must have done the same skirt about 25 times.

My sister came on board as production manager and things just expanded from there. Three years ago, I left my job, hired my first sewer and became officially my own company.

One of the major obstacles is coordinating delivery times. Stores will often take a very long time to place an order, they will wait until the last minute. Generally this is because they are unsure of how their sales are doing. Though the climate of the economy is good, they are still hesitant to order.

Scrambling to produce those goods in a timely manner is very difficult. I end up having to push my staff, my contractors and subcontractors anyone who does anything additional to the garment, like a snap very hard in order to meet the delivery times. For example, my cutoff date for placing orders for February deliveries was January 15. Well, I am still getting orders in fact, today (Feb. 9) I got a very nice order. Of course I want to accommodate the store, that is what I am here to do, but it makes it very difficult for us.

Things have improved in the last four or five months, as stores have come to see how my clothes are doing at the retail level, but it’s obviously not enough.

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