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Last Update: Saturday September 18, 2021

Key Idea: Sell Happiness

Nicole Miller built a very successful business selling happiness through her youthful clothing designs for women.   More...

Key Question:


Bud Konheim says that their customers are happy when then can by an original design that is well made,  that makes them feel pretty and that comes in under $300.

Q:  How does Bud know that women are happy when they buy from him?

A:  His revenue tells him.

Q: What is happiness? What does agelessness and aesthetics have to do with being happy?

"Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" have become more than symbolic words in our shrinking global village. Not everyone believes these words should be the cornerstones of a society. But, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and the other framers of the Constitution of the United States of America thought there was something profoundly right about the pursuit of happiness.

Yet "making someone happy," is hardly an "American" concept. It so much a part of the legacy of most cultures throughout history, it seems deeply embedded within our eidetic memories; it seems to be an essence of our very being, a primal thrust and energy that pulls us forward.

Though for Bud, it may be just a simple fact of life turned into a working business principle, Nicole and Hattie push it further. Nicole is attempting to create "ageless" designs. The inverse of our fear of death is our desire to be ageless. To be our very best self.

Being our best self, feeling and looking ageless, would make most of us happy. To the degree that Nicole can get inside "agelessness" is possibly the degree that her clothes make people happy.

What sounds like a simple statement -- make people happy -- can be a orientation to work and life that makes for good business and creates enormous social capital.

Q: In this section, Hattie says, "There are over 24 million small and privately-held companies and only about 7,000 publicly-traded (active) companies.” Surprise. The big guys are really the little guys. Do you know the stats about the impact of small businesses within our local, national and global economies?

A: No. You really can not know. Most stats are really best guesses. Small business operates just below the standard measuring indices. Even the government agencies that should know -- IRS, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Economics and Statistics Administration - Department of Commerce, and the Small Business Administration -- are making calculated guesses. But these figure that Hattie quotes are within 10% for the USA.

Every small business owner, whether a Mom-and-Pop shop or a fast-growing business, has a creative vision. The more entrepreneurial, the more that vision is turned into action. And it is these visions, both active and passive, that keep "the dream" alive. The dream, of course, is to make this world a better place. Small businesses are the keeper of each community's dreams and in this way Main Street is far more important than Wall Street.

Q: Why does selling happiness work?

A: It is what all of us will pay for.

Think about it

Can you sell happiness? Can you work toward product and process perfections that will in turn make your customers as happy to buy from you as are the Nicole Miller customers?

Clip from: Nicole Miller - Fashion & Quality

Nicole Miller on her visit to her boutique in La Jolla.

New York, NY: In this episode we go to the heart of the fashion industry and behind the scenes of Nicole Miller, a fashion house on Seventh Avenue to meet the founders, Nicole Miller and Bud Konheim.  In an industry where even top designers have taken production overseas, Nicole Miller pieces all proudly wear the label, "Made in New York."

It's a stroke of genius for these times, but the reasons go far beyond patriotism. For Nicole Miller, it's all rooted in the fabric of the American entrepreneurial dream: pride of idea, of process, and of execution.  They earnestly try to make women happy and  they are key advocates for causes important to women.

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Nicole Miller Fashions

Nicole Miller, Founder

525 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10018

Visit our web site:

Office: 2127199200

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1982

Sell Happiness

HATTIE (In the studio): Hi, I'm Hattie Bryant. We're spreading the news, “Made in New York City,” with hang-tags like these, the Nicole Miller fashion house, on Seventh Avenue, is declaring to the world, “We've made it here.”
We all know about life's basics – food, shelter, clothing – all can be purchased in the US at many different places and at many different price points. Big retailers with big brands – Wal-Mart, Neiman Marcus, Macy's and Nordstrom dominate – but they do not create and deliver as many products and services as do small firms. And, where much of what we purchase from big retailers is manufactured offshore, their high-end lines are often made by small companies right here in the USA.

The fact is, “There are over 24 million small and privately-held companies and only about 7,000 publicly traded companies.” Surprise. The big guys are really the little guys.

Now look at yourself. What are you wearing? Why? Clothes help to define us; they are an extension of our personality. This jacket was designed and made by one of the world's most well-known fashion designers, Nicole Miller. With her partner, Bud Konheim, the two have been building a growing business since the early eighties.

We'll take you now to Manhattan and you'll learn how they move ideas from mind to market.

NICOLE MILLER: That dress should be $275 and that one should be the same.

BUD KONHEIM: $275 – I would sell it for $275 and it will be a hot dress.

HATTIE: Bud Konheim and Nicole Miller started the Nicole Miller Company in 1982.

Today they have 165 employees working either at headquarters in New York City on 7th Avenue, in the warehouse or in the retail stores. There are 30 Nicole Miller Boutiques around the country – 15 owned by Nicole Miller and 15 owned by licensees.

Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and other large retail operations also carry the line.

NICOLE: My clothes look ageless. I've always been against clothes that make you look old. And I think a lot of times expensive clothes tend to make women look older and more mature. And I've always been against looking older than you are. And I don't think you should be dressing like a teeny-bopper either because I think women shouldn't dress so that they look foolish. But I think they should always dress so they look youthful.

BUD: That is the business we are in. We're trying to make a product that makes somebody happy. If it doesn't make them happy, they are not buying it and you're out of business. So the whole thing is about delivering a “feel good.” This is what it is all about. Now you get that feeling when you are dealing with a customer one on one and she is dealing with her customer who is in the store at the same time you are.

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