Over the next few weeks there will be a lot of Karen Kane coverage here on YLF as we help the company promote the launch of its first online store. I thought the way this came about is an interesting story and perfect material for our backstage blog.
It’s no secret that Angie has been a longtime fan of Karen Kane, both the designer herself and the products that carry her name. But we only started to get to know the company late last year when we were contacted by Karen’s son, Michael. We didn’t know it at the time, but Michael wasn’t yet working fulltime for the family business. Since his communications degree at Northwestern he had been working in entertainment, first at Creative Artists Agency, and then at ID Public Relations as an assistant publicist, but decided that he wanted to get into the apparel industry with his parents. Karen Kane didn’t have a marketing department, but Michael saw the opportunity to reach out to the end customers of their products and wanted to build one from scratch.
From our very first contact with Michael we loved working with him. We get contacted by PR and marketing people all the time, but he seemed to understand where we are coming from, and he clearly had a much deeper understanding of the industry than most. When we found out that he was in his early twenties, it was a great reminder that one should never make judgements about people based on their age or years of experience.
We started to understand the extent to which Karen Kane was a family business when Angie interviewed Karen back in February 2011. Her husband Lonnie is her partner in the business, focusing on the production and financial aspects while she focuses on design. Three out of Michael’s four grandparents have worked at the company. In fact, Lonnie’s mother still runs some aspects of KK administration and comes in 4 times a week. Michael is director of marketing, and his brother Robert is currently working at the company over the summer. As a couple who loves working together — I guess YLF is a family business too — we found this very compelling.
A few months ago we learned that KK would be launching their own online store. Given the great working relationship it was natural for Michael and I to start brainstorming ways that YLF might help KK to promote the new store. For KK, it would help to get the word out to women about their new online presence. For YLF it was an opportunity to try some new promotion ideas and to observe the creation of a new online retail store from up close.
Angie and I love the idea of telling our readers more about the fascinating world of clothing design and production. We had just started to dip our toes into the context of fashion and style with Michelle’s wonderful posts, and this was an opportunity to go deeper and get a true insider perspective on the industry. So tomorrow we start a series of sponsored posts that go behind the scenes at Karen Kane, looking at how different aspects of the business work. We hope we can convey the excitement of seeing an insider’s perspective of the KK operation.
We plan to continue bringing you the behind the scenes perspective beyond KK’s July launch. And after all the fascinating rag trade stories we heard during our time with the Kane family last week I am trying to convince Michael to write an insider’s column on YLF (so if you like that idea then be sure to say so in the comments to this post!). We’re also hoping that this can be a model for the way we work with other businesses who would like to open up their process to YLF scrutiny.