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How I Built a Renowned Licensing Firm and Design House

Rachel Steinford
Rachel Steinford

Stacy Garcia is the Creator of Stacy Garcia, Inc., a licensing firm and design house and founder of LebaTex, Inc., a distinctive textile supplier. Stacy Garcia is the first licensed brand with products that span from floor to ceiling for hotels and resorts all over the world.

Most recently, Stacy made the leap into the retail world with the launch of two consumer lifestyle brands, Stacy Garcia Home and Stay by Stacy Garcia. With over 20 years of experience in the design industry, Stacy brings a contemporary, well-traveled aesthetic to the ever-evolving world of fashion and interiors.

Was it a gradual decision or lightbulb moment to start Stacy Garcia, Inc.?

If by gradual, you mean inherent, then yes it was gradual. From as long as I can remember, I have always had a vision of starting my own company. I come from a family of entrepreneurs so launching a business was never a question of if, but when.

I was introduced to the concept of brand licensing when I interned at Ralph Lauren. The seed was planted there. I continued on to work for a textile company designing fabric for hotels & resorts.

The catalyst for change arrived when I became pregnant with my first child. I wanted to have control over my schedule and didn’t want to schlep into the city. I started planning at that point, getting ideas and taking a couple of trips overseas. I ended up leaving my job after the birth of my first son. The road wasn’t completely smooth. After a few failed attempts to license my designs under my own name, I realized I had to put my money where my mouth. That is how my first business, LebaTex was born. LebaTex is a textile supplier servicing the commercial design industry.

How did you get your first three customers?

After a few no’s, I very quickly learned if I wanted to have a licensed brand, I had to prove why a company would “need” to license my designs. Once I created my first Stacy Garcia branded textile collection for LebaTex, Inc. I was able to take those designs around and demonstrate proof of concept. From there Stacy Garcia Inc. was founded. We now have 23 active licensed partnerships with products spanning from floor to ceiling in hotels & homes in 52 countries around the globe.

How did you validate the idea?

I took the leap of faith to sign up for the Hospitality Design trade show where I bought a booth, had samples of my first collection printed and hired a publicist.

After my first HD Expo is when I really hit the ground running and began selling, hiring reps, hiring employees and slowly but surely developed a reputation for bold, colorful and energetic textile patterns.

Did you have any experience/expertise in the area?

I graduated from Syracuse with a formal degree in Surface Pattern Design and had a few years of experience under my belt designing for the hospitality industry. Our first few product collaborations were two-dimensional designs for hotels. We’ve branched out since.

Who is your target demographic?

Our target demographic slightly varies for each of our brands as we cater to both the trade and consumers. Our commercial brand targets designers of 3-5 star hospitality interiors while our current residential brands target women ranging from 30 - 65+ years of age.

What is the funniest/most strange customer request you’ve had?

The hospitality design industry certainly has its fair share of strange requests, stiletto proof upholstery, nightstands sturdy enough to be jumped on…you name it.

How did you fund the idea initially?

I took out a $50,000 home equity line of credit

Any tips for finding first employees?

Determine your core values and stick to those when making your hiring decisions. Our team is relentlessly creative, resourceful and passionate. There is a fundamental willingness to learn. We hold the bar high.

Did you run any companies prior?

Only, my fabric company LebaTex Inc.

What motivated you to start your own business?

I think it is the same motivation that keeps pushing me to grow. Creating a brand meant creating a platform, a way to add more beauty and meaning to the world. What were your family and friends first thoughts on your company? My husband is the one who suggested borrowing the money to launch my own collection so it’s safe to say I had his full support. My mother and father have always been huge supporters of what I wanted to do in life. Without such a great support system, I wouldn’t be where I am now.

What motivates you when things go wrong? What is the end goal?

Things are going to go “wrong”. I pride myself on being relentlessly creative and nimble, not only when it comes to design, but in terms of business as well. I try to take something positive from every experience. If I take a hit, I get back up and dust off. The motivation hasn’t changed, the goal hasn’t changed and that is to positively impact lives through inspiration and collaboration.

Do you have any advice for someone just starting out?

You don’t need to have all the answers in order to get started. Never be afraid to ask for help because there are resources and networking groups that are purposely for offering support to young entrepreneurs. It's also key to know your shortcomings and line your bench with key players that you can tap into when needed; For example, hire a lawyer or accountant if your background is not business.

What is stopping you being 3x the size you are now?

We put so much care and thought into the design process so we are highly selective in terms of the projects we take on. Our approach has been one of organic growth in order to maintain a high design integrity.

How do you protect yourself from competition?

We don’t remain stagnant. We continually raise the bar. From a design standpoint, our signature trend forecasting process allows us to be a few steps ahead, but not so far out there that it doesn’t resonate with consumers.

Do you have any trademarks/IP/patents?

We take our IP very seriously and will defend it. We hold multiple trademarks in many categories around the world and hold pattern copyrights in the hundreds.

What are the top 3-5 apps your business could not run without? Why are they essential?

  • Basecamp
  • Hootsuite
  • Keap
  • (and right now, Zoom)

Communication, efficiency and relationships are key.

What are your favourite books?

My team would laugh at this question because I’m always quoting a new book. Right now, I’m re-reading If You’re Not First, You’re Last by Grant Cardone. Recent reads also include, Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss and Traction by Gino Wickman. Favorite Book? Probably one of Ayn Rand’s book. Or The Lorax, but don’t expect me to read it without crying.

What are your favourite podcasts?

I’ve been listening to Gary Vee. A more design industry pick would be the Chaise Lounge Podcast. I recently had the opportunity to guest host and had so much fun!

What are the next products you’re working on?

Currently, we’re working on another decorative home accessory line and finalizing our new furniture collection. Some wish list products we’re working on include a residential rug collection, a lighting collection And we’re dreaming up our 1st capsule collection with a new retail collaboration. Fashion accessories shouldn’t be too far behind.

Are there any releases you can tell us about?

We recently launched a fun new tile collection called Maddox with TileBar. Most recently, I announced our entry into the residential furniture market through a strategic partnership with Klaussner Home Furnishings to bring my distinct aesthetic to two of its brands—Comfort Design and Klaussner Outdoor. The new line, under the Stacy Garcia Home label, will be debuted at High Point Market in October of this year and will include upholstered seating and outdoor furniture collections.

Where do you see the company in 5 years?

We definitely have some lofty goals. We’re driven by great design and synergy. We want to make that great design accessible to all. We have our sights set on some new unique partnerships.

A Stacy Garcia retail shop is in our near future and who knows, maybe we’ll see a Stacy Garcia designed hotel in the not so distant future.

What is current revenue? If you don’t mind sharing

We’re proud to be in the top 2% of Woman Owned Businesses

Would you ever sell?

I’d never say never, but that is not part of the current plan.

Company Name: Stacy Garcia Inc
Founder: Stacy Garcia
InterviewOther

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