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Apparel Icon to Home Decor

Kym Gold, co-founder of True Religion Apparel, will launch her new home decor brand Style Union Home in the fourth quarter this year, with its headquarters right here in the San Fernando Valley.Encino-based Style Union Home deals primarily in ceramics, with high-end vases, bowls and plates to create one look throughout the home. Prices are at the high end, ranging from a $28 ceramic scooper for spices, to large, family-style bowls for $495. One candle with a wavy shell-like design is priced at $1,295.The denim style icon founded the brand in January and it was set to launch officially in March, until the small company of nine employees had to rethink everything.The pandemic halted all the natural steps of an in-store retail launch, Gold said, with in-person tradeshows and launch parties scrubbed from the calendar.“When you go to trade shows, you can actually feel the product. … No one is doing that now; you can’t,” Gold told the Business Journal. “I’m a lot more vocal than I would be before because, you get the buyers and they just come in and they feel it, and they love it. Now, it’s a whole different ball game.”Style Union Home established its website in February to encourage online sales, and is set to roll out in select independent luxury retailers and e-retailers nationally. The fall launch date, according to Style Union Home’s publicity firm Brown+Dutch in Malibu, is seen as more of a public announcement for the company with COVID separating the company’s website going live and its official debut into the retail world.Style Union Home did not disclose revenue since its founding, but did say most sales closed within the past several weeks.Gold named Chairish as one of the company’s e-retailers, and mentioned Style Union pieces are on display at Robina Benson Design House on Melrose.An October report via the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development confirms what most of us have already guessed at: an accelerated shift toward more E-commerce. Among the nine countries studied, (the U.S. was not among them) female consumers and those with higher education were more likely to have increased online purchases. Fashion and accessories, however, saw a decline in online sales overall.“The goal is to do a joint venture with Restoration Hardware, with a company that understands their consumer wants quality and wants it made in L.A. That’s really where I want to be,” said Gold. “I find that people are going to come back to Los Angeles production. They’re not going to want to go to China.” Advertising during COVIDFrom a marketing standpoint, Gold has to sell with a story now, rather than a tactile experience for her consumers.

“In fashion, you have your salespeople, buyers that deal with the salespeople, and the creatives or business owners stand in the background,” she explained. “This is very different for me now because I have to be in the forefront and explain why I’m doing this.”Style Union Home is working on social advertising currently, Gold said, but the team is still figuring out where exactly to put advertising dollars, and how much.“(Robina Benson) has a very high-end clientele – designers, interior, stagers. Through that, do we want to do word of mouth, do we want to do advertising, what do we want to do? I want to put my money where it will most benefit Style Union Home,” added Gold.The company started an influencer campaign late last month, dubbed the #HowIStyledIt campaign. Eighteen online influencers in the home fashion business, interior design and stagers, or people who prepare a home for sale by making it look more appealing to potential buyers, were brought on for the campaign, including Nikki Butler, Katie Dunn and Damaris Stark.“For me, it wasn’t about (return on investment); it was about getting eyes on the product. We got some really good sales from it. I was surprised because it wasn’t the outcome I was ultimately looking for but it was really great,” said Gold, referring to sales mostly for the Ursula pitcher and candles.The success of Style Union Home hinges on Gold as an influencer in her own right, and as a trusted expert in the fashion industry, Chief Executive Evan Morgenstein of CelebExperts told the Business Journal. CelebExperts, along with Morgenstein’s other three marketing and consulting-centric companies, is based in North Carolina.“It’s going to come down to how much her name resonates with people in the home. She’s known for jeans and so that makes a personal statement,” added Morgenstein.

“When you have the trust of the consumer, a specific consumer you’re going after, it’s not impossible to think it’s possible. Who would have thought that Kathy Ireland would have turned an idea of getting into the sock business into a billion-dollar sock business? It worked because people trusted her. They liked her, and she was believable,” continued Morgenstein.But timing is still not on Style Union Home’s side, particularly a launch during a quarter dominated by the presidential election on top of a global pandemic.“The amount of noise going on in the marketplace is going to be so loud with the presidential election – I would never tell a company to launch a product during this. You have to put it off,” explained Morgenstein, while also positing that the Sherman Oaks company could still get decent holiday sales.“The saying that luxury never goes away, no matter what the economy is, that is pretty much true,” he added.Leaving a legacyTrue Religion has been in and out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy for the past several years, exiting most recently on Oct. 19, according to a statement from the company. Gold parted ways with the Vernon-based brand in 2013, when the company was at its pinnacle, and has occasionally been brought on as a consultant, but nothing permanent.She was not part of the True Religion bankruptcy.Style Union Home started when family memories and business interests aligned for Gold.When her mother passed, Gold remembered dinners shared with family, and in particular a special bowl that served as the spark to start Style Union Home.

“Everything that we would have for Sunday night dinner,” Gold recalled.At the same time, Gold was building homes, including her own in Encino to be closer to her sisters; Gold is an identical triplet. She decided to start a pottery company, to create her own cohesive brand throughout homes she was showing as a stager herself.“What I’ve always said about fashion is, you don’t want your clothes to wear you, you want to wear your clothes,” she explained. “I say that about homes too – you don’t want the accessories to pop out, you want the home to create a cohesive vibe throughout.”Gold is using her own home as a research and development leg of the company, with 2,500 square feet of the 8,000-square-foot home transformed into her own pottery studio, with her garage dedicated to inventory.Products within the company’s three home decor lines — Legacy, Malibu, and Unity — carry out Gold’s desire for cohesion from room to room. They also give a nod to the important people in Gold’s life, with pieces named after her mother, best friend and sons. Even Otto, Gold’s Portuguese water dog, has a place among the fashion decor line.“I’m trying to recreate that legacy for my kids. Those bowls will get passed on to my three boys, and their kids. … This is it for me.”

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