Her mother was an artist and her father a clothing manufacturer, but how did that lead her to a business in handbags. Tracey Lane Novick began her career on the corporate side of fashion. “I worked for Ann Taylor, J Crew, Victoria’s Secret, and The Gap.” Tracey’s finance degree came in handy. “Merchandising at the corporate level was always about the numbers.”
But after leaving the corporate world, Tracey was ready for something new. “My mom made these beautiful bags and jewelry and I went to her with the idea to start a multi brand line of handbags that would include her things as well.” She started small and began with trunk shows. Then she signed up for Holiday boutiques.
Her name came from the idea of adorning bags with things like patches, monograms, and jewels. “I was adding or adorning bags with embellishments to create unique pieces.” Tracey though of Ah! and then added dorned and the domain was available, so she went with it. “People told me the name would never stick, but it did and now I’m almost 8 years in.”
She began with monogramming and set up a machine in her basement. Inventory was kept in her den and garage. But as volume increased she eventually got a fulfillment center. “My volume has doubled every year, so I feel like I’m on the right track.”
The next step would be the major gift shows. “I started by renting a shelf from a friend who had a booth. The next show I moved up to 2 shelves and by the end of the year, half a booth.” The gift shows are expensive, and Tracey wanted to make sure the investment paid off. Back to the numbers.
By the following year, she was able to get her own booth. Tracey began to travel to China to add to her collection of unique bags. “I realized I’m a merchandiser for my own brand and capitalizing on my former career in corporate fashion.” That history taught her how to look at what was selling and what customers want, leading her to what to develop and offer.
“I’m not a designer, I’m a merchant and look to develop items that are on trend for my target customers.” She’s got style and knows what to look for. Her very cool skull bags are best sellers. And her new cross body bags in blue and gray camo sell out quickly. Ahdorned targets a broad audience at many price points and for many lifestyles.
Tracey’s year consists of attending 9-10 trade shows a year, a trip to China twice a year and managing her online site while at home. “I work like a dog, but I love it.” She looks for new ideas on family trips. “I’m always shopping. My friends have cool ideas too, and great taste and love to share their thoughts for products.”
A normal day starts at 5am when she is communicating with her factories in China. She now has an office near her home where she usually shows up in PJs after a workout in the gym. She has a great team of women that work with her and she says, “These women have been instrumental in helping me build my brand.”
There were never clear paths of where the business would go, but she always had selling in her blood. “This makes me happy. I come from a strong working family and I want to lead by example for my two children. Nothing comes easily…You need to work to see results.” Her 13 year old daughter tells her how proud she feels when she sees someone wearing one of her bags.
As for Tracey, “I feel empowered. I have the flexibility to do what I want, and I don’t have to ask anyone for permission. I only have myself to answer to.”
Start small and let the numbers guide your growth.