T h e S T R E A M :
CEO, ARIELLA CO.
When she’s not scheduled for fabric meetings, fittings, and shows, Ariella does her best to take advantage of the time she has off. “Everyone says I’m married to the job. But I like to make time to have fun.” Like many girls in her 20’s, Ariella Yeganeh, CEO of Ariella, Co., enjoys sleeping in on the weekend, getting in some exercise, and going to brunch with her friends.
As Ariella picked up the phone around 9:15 Monday morning, LA Market Week was in full-swing and she already had a line of customers out the door. “It’s crunch time for us!” she says with an upbeat and naturally positive tone. During market week, buyers have the opportunity to check out the new line that many brands will be featuring for the upcoming season. “We decide what styles we want to move forward with and see which ones we need to take out of the line.” Not a typical morning for her, but as a 23-year-old CEO working to continue building her fashion brand, no morning ever is. “It gets a little bit crazy sometimes. But, it’s work, it’s fun. I like crazy days. I don’t want to be doing nothing.” Despite the hectic start to her day, Ariella was relaxed and forthcoming as we dove into discussing her U.S. based fashion brand, Ariella Co.
Ariella’s parents, and founders of the company, combined bring nearly 65 years experience in the fashion industry. While her mom was working for other clothing companies, holding both sales and managing roles, her dad was working in clothing and shoes, mostly running his own stores. “They just have so much experience in the industry, that why not do something on their own?” recounts Ariella.
While Ariella Co. may appear to be a small, family-owned business, the company continues to expand rapidly. Today, you will find Ariella in many Mainstream Boutiques and in over 3,000 specialty retailers across the country. Since taking the helm as CEO, the brand has expanded internationally, as well. She says when it comes to planning their line, they look at all aspects. The brand’s mission is to be both trendy and affordable for women of all ages. Between making sure the product is comfortable and easy to wear, they also focus on specifics such as length and finding just the right color to make sure it fits the needs of their target audience. To really put herself in her customer’s shoes, Ariella often acts as a fit-model, personally trying on each item and tries to think of any complaints they may have toward each product and address these issues moving forward.
When the clothing line first began, the company’s products were imported overseas. “Doing business in China, it’s really hard to supervise,” her parents were spending at least two weeks out of each month in the country overseeing the manufacturing of products. Between re-orders and fit problems, they learned the market and decided it would be beneficial to maintain business solely in the U.S. Now, everything is made in-house, and since making the change Ariella says productivity and quality have improved immensely.
Ariella herself joined the family business at a young age when her parents suggested she come to work instead of going to summer camp. She recalls being 12-years-old, pulling stock and hiding in racks of clothing. When asked how she got to where she is now, Ariella says she quite literally started from the bottom and worked her way up. “I would go to every single New York show, and they would tell my mom, she’s not allowed to come in. My mom would say, are you kidding? The company is named after her, she will to come in.”
When it came time to hand over the reins of the budding fashion company to the 23-year-old Ariella, her young age and millennial status played surprisingly positive role in the discussion. “They saw my passion, and noticed how customers loved working with me and trusted my opinion.” Little by little Ariella's role begun to evolve until she was the one picking the styles and ultimately, running the show. “They noticed the styles I picked for our customers were working and that I was able to make the line look younger and trendier which is what they were aiming for.”
While she may carry the title of CEO, the role alone does not make Ariella the sole decision maker in the company. As Ariella notes, “No one makes a decision on their own. Me, my mom, and dad are always hand in hand. We always need to be in full agreement.” Even with a team mentality, Ariella is the CEO and that’s no easy feat. She works hard to create personal relationships with her customers and says, “it takes awhile to build the trust with them and to prove myself with them.”
It’s this type of dedication to her work that has helped Ariella establish some pivotal and rewarding connections, one of them being the founder of Mainstream Boutique, Marie DeNicola. “I love working with Marie, she’s an amazing person. She’s very, very impressive. All the store owners are so incredibly amazing to work with.” When it comes to gaining trust and maintaining these types of relationships, Ariella says it's all about exclusivity, “We won’t sell to any department stores. We like to keep it a little more exclusive...we like it to be more special for every boutique that carries Ariella.”
As for the future of fashion? Ariella believes the younger generations can bringing a whole new perspective and look at fashion and the retail world in general. From her experience, customers enjoy the insights from younger people. “Customers get a different perspective and trust our ideas. They want to know our opinions... and I think even now, the younger generation is providing a lot of value in the conversation.” Ariella gives a lot of credit to the millennial’s hand in social media, saying she is constantly inspired by things she sees on Instagram.
According to Ariella, running the family company doesn’t feel much like work and understands that not everyone gets the opportunity to follow their dreams alongside their mom and dad, “They’re my best friends so it’s cool that we get to do this together, we get to experience everything together.” As Ariella Co. continues to grow, Ariella plans to keep family close to the brand with the hope that her younger brother joins the team soon. For now, she is happy to continue collaborating with her parents, “I’m so proud of them and they’re so proud of me.”