Kathy Ireland: from supermodel to supermogul
How much of the designing is you?
Kathy Ireland: It's
a collaboration. I serve as CEO and chief designer for the company.
There are 37 people on our team and we're based in Los Angeles.
The way we work is, first we decide which trends we'll address.
We subscribe to trend services and color services, we conduct focus
groups, but the most critical part is Mom. She lets us know what
she likes and she gives me feedback through my Web site, KathyIreland.com,
and I get pretty straightforward advice and criticism.
Bankrate: Was it easier
to sell the idea for your company because your name was attached
Kathy Ireland: Easier
and harder. I started the brand with my managers. I was getting
out of modeling, I was doing a little bit of acting. There was a
sock company out of North Carolina and they approached me about
modeling socks. I was ready to move away from modeling, so that
wasn't so interesting to me, but creating a brand was. Swimsuits
would've been too obvious, so I thought that if customers would
embrace the socks which were so high quality that we might just
have something. And in some ways it was hard starting the business,
because there was a curiosity factor that helped open some doors,
but at the same time, people tended to limit me, wanting me to do
celebrity endorsements. But I wanted a brand that had longevity
and I wanted to be involved every step of the way.
Bankrate: Aside from
running your company, are you involved in managing your own money?
Kathy Ireland: I work
with a business manager, someone I've worked with since I was 18
years old, but I'm very involved with that also. I'm well diversified.
Bankrate: Do you have
plans to take your company public?
Kathy Ireland: I don't
know. I really enjoy the benefits of running a private company.
I guess it's that control freak kind of thing in me. My priorities
are my faith, my family and then my business, and I don't want anything
to take away from that.
Bankrate: Do you have
former modeling colleagues asking you advice on how to start their
Kathy Ireland: I have
had people from all different backgrounds ask me, and I say it's
a lot of work, and you have to figure out what your vision is, and
how to achieve that goal and find a support team to help you achieve
that. It's not just having your picture taken and showing up at
events, and then watching the money roll in.