Tucked away on the 7th floor of the NYDesigns building in Long Island City, Kelsy Zimba has built her haute couture establishment, Zimba Collections, here in New York. It’s a common dilemma for emerging designers to be financially challenged due to the high price of office space, but NYDesigns is a way around it. Stationed a few steps away from the 7 train (which goes directly to 42nd St. midtown), NYDesigns helps emerging design firms with studio space, proven business training, and hands-on business counseling all under one roof.
During her college career at the Fashion Institute of Technology, she pursued several internships and strategically compartmentalized her experience in correlation with where she wanted to go. At Michael Kors, she learned the merchandising side of a collection and at Zac Posen- gained experience in design and sample making. “It’s good for interns to see the difference of each side of the industry to know exactly what you want to do in fashion. They all require different time commitments and knowledge,” says Kelsy.
Buy why haute couture in New York? And isn’t it more of a European craft?
“It makes sense to keep the business in New York, because it is all one piece. There is a customer base in haute couture- not the $20,000 price point, but in the $3,000 range.” Kelsy also strongly believes that there is a strong talent base in the city as far as production goes. “For haute couture, the orders are small, so shipping overseas doesn’t make any sense.”
The clientele consist of businesswomen as well as women who are headed out to a special event. Most of her clients have come across Kelsy through referral as well as press through a gown she had designed and created at the Oscars. Having started this collection three years ago, Kelsy is still in charge of everything including the business side and the custom design programs for high-end hotels and casinos. Her biggest obstacle to hurdle with Zimba Collections was to not get carried away at the design table and realize at the end of the day she was still running a business.
Kelsy’s tips for recent grads: “Try to get out there as much as possible and make as many contacts. Never make enemies- make friends. Try to never have a big head. Being a perfect intern is having an open mind and proving that you’re invaluable.”