Design Entrepreneurs NYC Spotlight: Vasumathi Soundararajan of Ken Wroy

Our design entrepreneur Vasumathi Soundararajan is ready to make her mark in the men’s underwear market. Read about her story, interesting fun fact and why she started Ken Wroy.

Can you tell us about your line?

Ken Wroy is a designer brand of men’s underwear. The underwear market is thriving like never before because more and more men have become fashion conscious and are into grooming. Women are bestowed with Victoria’s Secret, but men don’t have any Henry’s Secrets yet. Being inspired by NYC’s infectious energy, I set out to bring about a change in the perception of men’s underwear. After all, underwear is the first thing you wear and the last thing you take off, so give it the attention it deserves.

When did you start your line?

Early 2012.

Why did you start it?

I was simply bored with my husband’s underwear. Lol. As a designer, I like scrutinizing design elements that surrounds me. So it was hard and disappointing to see my husband in badly cut, loosely hanging underwear. He was practically wearing shorts inside his tailored pants. I didn’t want to change my life-partner, but I could definitely change his underwear wardrobe! This was a challenge I was keen to take up as a designer.

As I began to dwell into this subject, I heard many anecdotes of women sharing the same experience. Men can look charming wearing trendy clothes and classy suits. But when the clothes come off…Oh horror, it sometimes falls apart. I was always into prints and colors and underwear was a perfect product to unleash my creativity.

Can you give us three words to describe the brand?

Bold, Sleek and Sexy.

What’s your brand signature?

“Be fashioanable all the way.”

What your favorite piece in the collection?

My very first print called ‘Smoke’, inspired by Alexander Mc Queen.

Can you tell us about the new line? There are a lot of NYC-inspired pieces. Why did you shoot in Central Park?

Soaking in the fashion of NY, I am inspired by this dynamic city and the line was inspired by that feeling. As you guessed, the new line is called ‘New York Ness’ and just like the city, the line is electric and sexy. We shot in Central Park because no place is more iconic than that. Moreover, it was a great exposure, we had all the tourists taking photos with our underwear models.

Why did you apply to DENYC?

To connect with industry professionals and work with mentors. And to strengthen the discipline of my business with their help.

What do you hope to get out of the program?

The prize! That would be sweet. But apart from that, I have learnt a great deal about putting together a ‘solid plan’ for my business. It was a relief to pen all the numbers and ideas that were in my head and document it. The program has worked like a coach to streamline and navigate intelligibly towards my vision for Ken Wroy.

What’s the best part of being a NYC designer?

The city streets are a permanent runway.

Can you tell us a fun fact?

For our first launch party, we had 7 male models walk the ramp. At the after party, we had women jump to the stage to take photos and we got 900 photos taken in 3 hours of only women guests and the models.

Learn more about our design entrepreneur at Ken Wroy.  

Ten Tips for Show-Stopping Presentations

This week we’re including a guest post from Jonathan Vatner, a staff writer at Hue, FIT’s alumni magazine.

Design Entrepreneurs NYC (for new visitors to this blog, it’s a program for emerging designers created by FIT in partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporation) focuses on developing an airtight business plan. Sooner or later, designers growing their business will probably have to present their plan or line to potential backers or buyers, so on August 27, DENYC arranged a workshop with Performance of a Lifetime, a consulting and training firm that teaches performance skills to business people.

“Everybody is afraid of public speaking,” said David Nackman, creative director of Performance of a Lifetime. “But we are our own worst critics. Nobody will know if you’re nervous or make little mistakes. No matter what happens, just go with it.” Before giving your next presentation, consider these tips from Nackman and his colleague Maureen Kelly.

1. Don’t “present.” Pretend you’re having a (one-sided) conversation with one person at a time. And walk toward that person; it will make you seem more calm and engaged.

2. Come up with an opening line that’s a little out of context, something interesting or provocative to inspire curiosity from the very beginning. For Jacqueline Stone, owner of Salt + Stone, Nackman recommended she start with her mission statement: “I want to make the world more beautiful, one piece of jewelry at a time.”

3. Choose someone you admire—maybe a celebrity, maybe a colleague—and use some of their mannerisms. It’s called creative imitation, and it helps you be “bigger” in the front of a room.

4. Avoid “hand-washing”—rubbing your hands together while you’re talking. If you don’t have something in your hands, rest one in the other at navel level.

5. It’s perfectly acceptable to stay in one spot. It’s also nice to pick three spots to walk between, during pauses in your talk. As a bonus, it can give you a moment to think when you have a brain freeze.

6. Don’t spell out every detail of your company’s history. Start with the poetic story of your company, then jump ahead with a transition like, “And today?”

7. Slow down. Give your words time to sink in. At the very least, put some “air” around your name and the name of your business. These are the most familiar things to you, and the most important things for your audience to hear clearly.

8. Let yourself take a breath here and there. Human beings don’t talk or think in one long sentence. As Kelly said, “You can end a sentence.”

9. When you feel an “um” coming, stop talking. “Ums” are the sound of gathering your thoughts. Better to do it without the noise.

10. Learn the facts about your business until they come out of your mouth without having to think. Then turn yourself over to the audience, respond to their cues, and give them the feeling that you’re creating something for them.

Design Entrepreneurs NYC Spotlight: Astrid Brucker of Astridland

Can you tell us about your line?

Astridland is a contemporary women’s apparel brand that strives to dress the modern woman with flair, providing innovative, original but subtle pieces that are minimal yet bold. Our collections transcend seasons and can be worn day to night and year after year.

When did you start it?

We launched Astridland in 2008 when we did a Supima fashion show at Gotham Hall.

Why did you start it?

We worked in the fashion industry and designed costumes for movies. When Astrid needed a dress for a movie premiere she created her own and then added tops, tunics, and jackets to round out the collection.

Can you give us three words to describe the brand?

Minimal, bold, timeless

What’s your brand signature?

Our Denim Goddess gown has been widely featured and gets a lot of attention but our Issa top is our best seller!

What your favorite piece in the collection?

The Isis dress.  It’s loose, yet has a defining shape and it’s affordable and comfortable.

Why did you apply to DENYC?

We started a business plan but never completed one and needed guidance on how to grow the business.

What do you get out of the program?

We learned how to better structure the company, and understand how to implement changes in regards to marketing, finances, sales and public relations.

What’s the best part of being a NYC designer?

Astridland is made in NYC because we have access to so many resources here; skilled craftspeople, a great assortment of suppliers and the best trade shows.

Can you tell us a fun fact?

Astrid Brucker loves classical ballet and enjoys taking classes. While moving through each position, she often thinks of fluid silhouettes that accentuate the body. Ballet and fashion design have a common theme: it’s all about the line.

Learn more about the brand at Astridland.