I have one favor to ask any woman who is reading this, whether you’re a lady of means and wouldn’t be caught dead shopping anywhere but Bergdorf Goodman, or watch your pennies and swear by Marshalls.
Next time HSN features MarlaWynne apparel, pour yourself a glass of wine (if it’s nighttime), settle into a comfortable chair and “meet” a woman with Bergdorf’s tastes and style, who designs clothes that sell at Marshalls prices, often for even less. I’ll be surprised if you don’t buy at least one piece from Marla’s collection. By the way, her great clothes are one thing; her magnetic personality is another.
Marla Ginsberg, 58, used to shop at the chichi stores all over the world, thinking nothing of buying a $300 pair of slacks here, a $1,000 sweater there, and goodness knows what in between. That’s when she was a successful international television executive and producer, living in Paris and flitting back and forth between CDG (Charles de Gaulle airport) and LAX. Her fortunes changed, however, when the writer’s strike hit in 2007-2008 and Marla lost her job. Back in LA with two teenage children to support, she wasn’t the type to wallow in self-pity. But what to do, she thought, accepting the fact that the likelihood of finding a post-strike job was “about as good as finding a natural blonde in Beverly Hills.”
a sewing machine”
Marla’s creative juices kicked in and she had one of those “ah-ha” moments. She’d buy a sewing machine, and she’d design clothes for the women being ignored by the big-name fashion designers, the women of her own generation, the boomers. She reasoned that if other women had as hard a time finding affordable fashion as she did, she could develop a viable business. “I wanted to cover all my icky bits, like my sagging underarms and pooching stomach,” Marla told me when we first met three years ago, “but all I could find were moo-moos and over-priced matronly styles that made me feel like a refugee from an artists colony.” So what if she didn’t know how to sew and or design clothes, she thought. She had developed a great appreciation of style, after living in France for 17 years. She knew she was creative. She’d figure it out.
Figure it out she did. Marla learned to sew in the garage of her home in LA, she created a line of apparel, and she found a company that agreed to finance her project. Although her backers pulled out when the market took a turn south, Marla remained confident. Determined and driven as ever, she called her former Hollywood contacts at Creative Artists Agency. They liked what they saw and introduced Marla and her rack of hand-made clothes to Home Shopping Network (HSN), as well as to a Canadian company that was willing to fund her business, in exchange for full ownership.
Montreal to Manhattan
After relocating to Montreal with her kids, Marla became unhappy with the direction the company was taking the brand, so she negotiated to buy back the rights. This time, HSN stepped in to help, introducing Marla to Nation Design, which has been manufacturing MarlaWynne apparel for the last four three years. So Marla packed up once again, and moved to New York. Today, MarlaWynne is among HSN’s fastest-growing brands, and also is sold on QVC in the UK, The Shopping Channel in Canada, and HSE24 in Italy.
Watching Marla on air, it’s instantly apparent how much she’s enjoying her customers’ enthusiasm for her designs, and grateful for her newfound success. Marla’s road to reinvention may have been covered with speed bumps and potholes (besides the everyday challenges of running a business, she went through a terrifying ordeal when her son was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkins disease two years ago; thankfully, he’s now in complete remission), but they never stopped her from continuing her drive forward, and now she’s loving the ride.
Her Hollywood days behind her, Marla Wynne has become the creator, director, producer, and star, of a far bigger show. And it looks like it’s going to have one heck of a run.
11 Questions for Marla and
her Wynne-ing Answers
How do you define the style of your clothes?
Easy care, easy wear, easy elegance, with an emphasis on fit and quality fabrications.
What has been your biggest thrill since you launched five years ago?
To see a dream come true. What began in my garage as an “idea” has evolved into a “second act” in life and a multi-million dollar global brand. My mid-life reinvention did not come without big bumps in the road, and the learning curve has been steep. However, the acceptance of the brand and the enthusiasm of my customers are huge rewards.
What do you think has been the biggest determinant of your success?
As the single mother of two college-bound children who also liked to eat, I never gave up. Not for a moment. I cried from exhaustion and frustration, but I kept moving forward, regardless of the obstacles. I understood that the early years of my business would be difficult emotionally and financially and that I would have to eat a great deal of humble pie (write to me for my recipes), but I never considered failure an option.
Describe your best customers.
My customer is a lot like you and I. She’s 50+, educated and fashionable, in search of great fashion that fits her changing body and lifestyle.
Why don’t you feature brights or gem colors?
I actually did some brights and gem colors in my new Jewel Box collection, but I believe that neutral colors should be the foundation of most women’s wardrobes because they’ll work with the pieces they’ve collected over time, including great scarves and jewelry. When you introduce fashion colors into your wardrobe, they’re of the moment. I want to give women seasonless pieces they can count on 365 days a year.
Name one accessory that you can’t live without, whether it’s your design or someone else’s?
I have three: My silver beaded necklace, the ring I designed using the diamonds from my grandmother’s wedding ring, and my Cartier Baignoire watch. I wear all of them every day.
Define your personal style.
Casual sporty elegance.
What’s your favorite way to relax?
Relax? What’s that?
Tell us your favorite room in your apartment.
My kitchen has always been my favorite room any where I live. I am an unrepentant foodie and love to entertain.
How has the style of your HSN collections changed?
My pieces get stronger as I learn more about design. They are cleaner, simpler and more elegant. I really listen to my customers and I learn from them, as well. I pay great attention to HSN.com reviews and the comments ‘my girls’ post on my Facebook page, and I answer every question myself.
What are your biggest pet peeves?
I abhor dishonesty and arrogance.
How would you like to have Marla help you reinvent your look?
Click here to enter to win a personal shopping consultation with our incredibly talented friend, and walk away with a spectacular
MarlaWynne wardrobe, valued up to $1000.