A real life brand experience with Wendy Williams for HSN
I was thrilled last week on February 11th, when Women’s Wear Daily published a major article officially announcing Wendy Williams’ new clothing line for HSN. I had been anxiously awaiting the moment when I could finally share this exciting news with everyone about being the sole design and manufacturing company behind her new line. This project has truly been a labor of love and a long time in the making.
When I looked back at the timeline of the entire project, it was 1 ½ years from the first days of development. I’m not a stranger to this kind of timeline for brand development as previously I’ve been involved in launching other brands such as the Nicki Minaj and Adam Levine which were about 2 years of development before seeing product in the stores.
Brand development is a lengthy process. It involves finding the right match between a retail outlet and a label/personality. It also means being very authentic to the nature of the brand. And lastly, the celebrity or brand must strongly promote their product through advertising, digital outlets, and truly believe in the product. These are critical points in giving a brand the legs to last through many years of growth.
A Long Time in the Making—Getting Everyone On Board
The very beginning of the Wendy project involved my initial meetings with Wendy and her husband, Kevin, who is also her manager. We were just learning about each other. We needed to have open conversation with them to show them what our company is capable of and we wanted to know how serious they were about developing a clothing brand.
They needed to see that we are a full service company that not only handles the manufacturing end. We also work collaboratively from the initial concepts of design and sourcing fabrics and yarns, designing sketches and making proto samples, and can put together a collection that will appeal to major retailers and be profitable to all parties involved---very much a full service company to help them build this clothing line.
Of course spoke about the financial benefit to everyone. Everyone wants this to be a profitable endeavor, but we also want to create the “right” product and be authentic to Wendy’s vision.
We have a vested interest to make sure the brand has a long shelf life so it has to be true to her and also be appealing to many women. Wendy needs to be highly involved. It has to be clothing that Wendy would wear and we can believe she would wear. We had to prove to Wendy and Kevin that we really believed this could be a great opportunity for Wendy.
We would help her design the type of clothing that embodied what she thought was fashion that every woman whether in their 20’s to their 70’s and upward could relate to. It might seem like a large age bracket to address but based on Wendy’s fan base, it was not impossible. She speaks to young and old and to all ethnicities. She has a daily show, keeps up with current events, is someone every woman can relate to—she is a natural spokesperson to have a line of clothing for all women.
The next part of the project
The next part of the project was approaching HSN to get them excited about taking on Wendy as a personality to add to their line-up. HSN was extremely excited about getting Wendy on board as a new host. They felt that since EVERYONE sees her all week in her day wear/work wear, it was a natural way to promote her clothing line and how amazing would it be to get her on their show on the weekends to not only promote her career wear.
However, I have a segment called “Weekends With Wendy” to generate more interest in what Wendy wears when she wants to dress down but still look stylish. We couldn’t have made a better match up between celebrity and retail outlet! HSN was already discussing how we could integrate links from her website to HSN and additional types of digital support to advertise and promote the brand.
Being Authentic To the Wendy Williams Brand
From the point that we gained the William’s confidence and trust, we began to work closely with Wendy to key into her signature looks. We all see what Wendy wears every day on her TV show. We created working boards to share with Wendy all of the things that we see her in all the time and had much dialogue with her about why she liked or didn’t like certain outfits.
Not everything she wears on her show is clothing that she loves and she enjoys getting daily feedback and critiques from her fans on her segment “What Wendy Wore”. We talked in depth about color being important, prints and patterns that she felt strong about, fit on clothing—relaxed vs. form fitting, etc.
About the author
Tina Trevino is the Senior Design Director of KBL Group Intl. Ltd. in NYC and manages their large creative design team and Director Community Relations for Latin Business Today. She shares all of her insight on upcoming fashion trends for the season with her team to start the collaborative design process. The company specializes in sweaters, knits and wovens. It provides product for ladies, men, contemporary, jr, and children. Tina specializes in coordinating directly with large US retailers to design exactly into their targeted customer needs. With many years under her belt in the industry, she has also gained the ability to go beyond the fashion component and help to work through sourcing, fitting, production and merchandising issues as well.