BL: Where are you guys from, and how did you get started in this business?
Tim: Alfred and I are both Los Angeles natives, Alfred grew up in Highland Park, and I grew up in Whittier. We both got started in the apparel business about 10 years ago at the retail / wholesale levels and things progressed from there.
BL: How did you meet, and how did T&A Showroom come about?
Tim: We met at Park Showroom 7-8 years ago; we were both sales reps there. We got introduced to a brand new line called Alkemy (whom we still represent at T&A!), and decided to handle sales with them exclusively. We then rented space at Park, and signed up to man a booth at the upcoming Project Trade Show in Las Vegas.
The show proved extremely successful for us – we were getting hit up left and right by new brands wanting representation from us, and it was shortly after then we realized we needed more space.
T&A Showroom opened its doors in late 2008.
BL: You have a really extensive collection; your products range from men’s & women’s apparel, shoes, jewelry, even eyewear. Stylistically, or in terms of your target customer, what’s one thing all of your lines have in common?
Tim: Our common thread is our ability to be diverse. Most of the showrooms around here are categorized very specifically (i.e. women’s surf / sport or men’s shoes) and because of this, most brands will get overlooked or even lost in the sea of showrooms.
We have successfully placed numerous lines from many different categories into a one-stop-shop for buyers, and through this manner of strategy we have gained a higher advantage above our competitors.
BL: How do you go about choosing new lines? What are the top criteria?
We are very thorough and precise with our selection for design lines.
We cater to mostly private label brands, and the top key factors we will look for when a line is pitched will be: Marketability, Profitability, Production Capability, and Accessibility to Media (i.e. PR / Marketing communication).
BL: How has the economy changed the fashion business, and in particular how has it affected your clients?
Tim: Everyone in the industry has definitely been more cautious. On the buying end, orders have been shorter, but are now better thought out. This actually turns out better in the long run, because it reduces the risk of over-production / order cancellations.
BL: What are your long-term plans as a company?
Tim: Our main goal is to become an international showroom. We plan to extend with 5 showrooms around the country (in all of the top trade show locations), starting with New York City.
BL: Any last remarks, comments, quotes?
Tim: This is a motto I have been carrying with me since I decided to start my own business, and I proudly stand behind it:
No one is ever going to pay you what you’re worth, except for yourself.