Donna Karan: Friends inspired my brand
Donna Karan was determined to fill a gap in the marketplace by designing with only her friends in mind.
The American fashionista founded her eponymous label in 1984 and it's since become one of the most successful brands in the industry. It wasn't what Donna expected, as she only had a niche market in mind when first creating her own clothing.
"When I first started Donna Karan, I realised there was a void in the marketplace and I wanted to fill it," she told fortune.com. "At the time, there was an uptown fashion look – Oscar de la Renta and Bill Blass - then you had most fashion designers doing clothes that were like women wearing men’s suits. I only wanted to sell to my friends and small boutiques."
Her career started at fashion house Anne Klein, where she became head designer before leaving her post to pursue her own dream. Both brands shared the same investors, so Donna was lucky enough to gain interest from those who paid attention to Anne Klein.
Earlier in 2015 Donna surprised fashion fans by announcing her decision to resign as chief designer of her label, to focus on her brand Urban Zen. It's given her more creative control and with no outside investors, Donna is happy to be CEO as there's less stress involved.
"It’s back to basics,” she added. “Fashionable basics... I didn’t have time to do it all, and I had to make a very tough decision. I was getting a little bit on in years.”
Urban Zen offers everything from clothing and accessories to furniture through a select group of retailers. Donna is pleased she's been able to launch a new business so effectively after leaving the company which made her famous.