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Last Update: Thursday July 29, 2021

Key Idea: Break With Tradition

When they were trying to grow their business, Nicole and Bud dropped out of expensive runway shows and hit a home run with an alternative marketing plan.

Key Question:


Do what your competitors are not doing.

Q: Why did Nicole Miller open its own boutique on Madison Avenue in New York when New Yorkers could buy the line at Bloomingdale's and other department stores?

A: In a cost-cutting effort, Bud decided they would stop participating in the major New York Fashion shows.  His rationale was the money they spent to be part of it and the hot items the press would write about as a result of seeing the shows were more about name recognition than closing sales.

To get the attention of the press, Nicole would have to come up with the outrageous which would never sell to real customers. He calculated that they never got a strong return on their investment for participation.

Since no one store ordered her entire collection every month, Nicole countered with the complaint that without the fashion shows, no one would ever see her entire collection. To solve that problem creatively, she suggested that they open their own shop which would be the place for everyone in New York to see every piece in every collection.

It worked. The shop made money from day one.

What else happened because of the first Nicole Miller boutique?

A: When the one boutique was running smoothly, Bud and Nicole knew they could continue to grow with department store orders and with their own chain of boutiques. Today there are 15 company-owned shops and 15 locations licensed to owners like Stephanie in La Jolla. Taking on the task of retail on top of creating and making every piece of Nicole Miller clothing has been satisfying for both Bud and Nicole. The small shops present to customers the right image. The image they strive for is that they are unique and they provide warm service, fashion savvy sales people and even custom gowns for brides. The shops say to the customer, "we are small and you are very important to us."

Think about it

What is your "fashion show?" Meaning, what are you doing out of habit that might not be making you money? What can you stop doing which would free up time and energy to try something new? What could be your "boutique strategy?"

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

Break With Tradition

BUD: Having our own stores at Nicole Miller is a funny story.

I was fighting the idea of a fashion show – a runway show -- forever.

Nicole's argument was that department stores only get to see a few things.They only pick a few things.

My customers only get to see a few things that department stores pick out of my line. Nobody gets to see the range of what I do – I need to have a runway show.

My argument was a runway show was a waste of time – you'll be making things for editors that need to take a picture of a costume because if they take a picture of normal clothes -- where is the news?
Those are things that are nice to wear but there is not news.

They need to have some flamboyant thing – that's what they want the picture of and we will never sell it and we will go out of business. Back and forth we argued this. And finally Nicole said, “Okay, I want to show my whole collection – let's open a boutique.” And I said, “Okay, opening a boutique with a chance of making money in the boutique. It kind of makes sense.”

So we found a boutique on Madison Avenue, we opened a boutique. It was success from day one. It was terrific, it was great.

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