Tied Up in Vibrant Success
Published: Friday, March 1, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2013 01:02
"Unique yet Uniform, Ambitious yet Artful" is the motto of Terracotta New York, a retail company that designs, manufactures and distributes high-end menswear-inspired accessories for women. Terracotta was cofounded by Yidi Xu (MSB ’08), who left her investment banking job to enter the fashion world. Xu’s cofounder, Alina Cheung, was one of her colleagues at her former employer, Credit Suisse.
During their time there, the pair noticed that to spice up their professional attire, their male colleagues would wear colorful yet unconventional patterns on their ties and cuff links. Xu and Cheung admired the way that the men were able to use accessories to transform an otherwise bland and uniform corporate look into something personalized and fashionable. They wanted to do the same, but felt that there was not an outlet for women to purchase neckties and bow ties that were customized to their needs.
By talking to friends and colleagues, Xu and Cheung discovered that this problem was something that was not just personal to them. Working with Google to pull data from Google searches, they discovered that many women in the U.S. and Europe were searching for these items, but there was not an established company from which they could purchase these accessories.
They decided to launch Terracotta New York to fulfill this need. The neckties that Terracotta designs and distributes are shorter and skinnier to compliment a woman’s frame. The bow ties are unisex, but they are more feminine in design in comparison with traditional male bow ties. Every pattern on the scarves that Terracotta sells is a pattern that is taken or inspired by a men’s tie.
"Our initial inspiration was standing out in a very uniform corporate world," Xu said. In a world where our participation in different organizations and groups has the capability to make us lose our personal flair, the founders of Terracotta wanted to give women the opportunity to put a special touch on their day to day attire.
Although Xu was able to find many comparisons between the discipline required to survive in the finance and the fashion worlds, creating an identity was something that was new to her and Cheung.
"When you’re at an investment bank, you’re given an identity," she explained. "We’re no longer investment bankers — we’re entrepreneurs, we’re fashion designers".
Terracotta takes a very traditional concept and spins it in a feminine and high-fashion style. Because their products are luxury items, they are sold at higher prices, Terracotta is based in New York and is only sold at a couple of stores in California, but their collection is available online at TerracottaNewYork.com. Xu also hopes to expand sales channels and sees great potential in some of the M Street boutiques.
"You don’t really know where it’s going to take you. You just have to go with it and give it your best," she said.