Westchester County's Most Accomplished Women Entrepreneurs
Meet 28 of the county's most successful, move innovative, most respected business women.
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Getting Their Groove On
Andrea Andrews and Lisa Primeggia
Co-Owners, Groovy on Grand
When Andrea Andrews, a fashion designer and Philadelphia transplant, and Lisa Primeggia, a former Brooklyn resident whose background was in the finance industry, decided to open a business together five years ago, they came up with an idea based on their mutual love of shopping: Groovy on Grand, a retail clothing store specializing in kids’ and teen fashion, which included their own branded line.
“We did very well our first six months to a year, and then the economy went bad,” Andrews says. “We thought, ‘How else can we bring people in?’” They had the idea to host a workshop where kids could create a design on a piece of paper, transfer the design to a blank garment, and embellish it with vinyl or
rhinestones using a process that hadn’t been used before. Andrews and Primeggia had the good business sense to run with the idea, which brought even more success than the retail operation.
The first workshop drew only four participants. “I was shaking,” Andrews recalls, “biting my nails.” But the initial lot left happy, which led to a Girl Scout troop asking if they could come in for their own workshop, which led to make-your-own garment birthday parties; which led to in-store classes (on dyeing, painting, and sewing); and, finally, a summer camp where kids design and create an entire collection of 10 pieces of clothing. This year’s summer camp had 76 campers; there’s already a waiting list for summer 2012.
“With the economic downturn, people were spending less on clothing for their children, but they saw the value in the workshops because not only were they getting something to wear, but we were spurring creativity in them,” Primeggia says. “It filled more than just the one purpose.”
Last year, they had the idea to try and distill their design process and sell it in a box. They included everything needed to embellish a plain garment—buyers just add a pencil and iron to make their own designs. “We sold them in the store—it wasn’t a printed box yet,” Primeggia says. “We just said, ‘Let’s box them and see what happens.’ They sold very well for the holidays last year.”
Seeing its success, they decided to develop the kit as a stand-alone product. Groovy on Grand’s Make-Your-Own Design Studio was born (with a box that features a hippie-ish design by a Briarcliff mom). The kits come with the materials and a blank tote bag, tank top, T-shirt, long-sleeved shirt, or hoodie ($33 each). “It didn’t exist before,” Andrews says. “It’s a whole new process. People have been shocked at the beautiful designs that even young kids were making.”
They launched the product wholesale at the New York International Gift Fair in August, and now it’s being carried in stores as close as Scarsdale and Briarcliff and as far as Brooklyn and Vermont. “We’d love to be in all the art and craft stores,” Andrews says.
“I was their first retailer,” brags Megan David of Wake Robin in Briarcliff Manor. “I’ve sold out of all of my hoodies and tote bags. They do really well.”
Andrews and Primeggia—who still run the business with no additional employees—estimate that business for the Make-Your-Own Design Studio has increased 575 percent since its inception. The kits plus the workshops, classes, and camps now make up 65 percent of their business; the retail side accounts for the remainder. They believe their success came from hitting it big with a section of Westchester that is underserved. “Sports are huge here,” Andrews says. “When it comes to camps, there are a lot of sporting camps, but to offer something different is nice. There was a need—that’s why we kind of exploded.”
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