Between the Sheets Designs and Manufactures Elegant Lingerie Right Here in NYC Thanks to NYCfNAC and a Loan from LESPFCU
Layla L’obatti, a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), combined her business savvy and her passion for elegant lingerie to launch Between the Sheets, her own line of designer intimate apparel. Attracting the attention of the fashion industry, the media and consumers alike, Layla and her partner Josh Verleun, are well on their way to achieving their business goals thanks to a loan secured from Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union (LESPFCU) through the New York City Financial Network Action Consortium (NYCfNAC).
After completing her education at FIT in 2007, Layla developed intimate apparel for top brands including Nicole Miller and Tommy Hilfiger, but she was eager to develop a line of her own. In 2008, through personal savings and financial support from her family, Layla purchased the fabric she needed to create the initial samples herself. At the Curve trade show in August 2009, she launched her spring 2010 collection, which included high-end and every-day lingerie for women. She secured a number of orders at the show, validating her concept and proving to herself that she had a viable brand.
Her next step was to secure the financing she needed to produce and ship the orders from her buyers at the show. She had already written her business plan, so she called a number of major banks to secure a loan. They all told not to bother coming in -- they couldn’t help her. The banks were simply not giving out loans, especially to start-ups. Additionally, none of the banks were able to understand how she could possibly need a loan to manufacture clothing in New York City, as most wholesale manufacturing was taking place overseas.
But Layla wouldn’t give up. She was committed to manufacturing her collection here in New York, and she understood that being a wholesaler created much greater opportunities for growth than just opening a single retail store. Working with specialists in such fabrics as silk, lace or knits, all of her materials were cut, sewn, and warehoused in New York City, supporting local jobs and generating revenues for local businesses. She approached the Queens Economic Development Corporation for suggestions about where to find a loan, and was referred to NYCfNAC.
When she visited NYCfNAC, not only did she present her business plan, but she brought along pieces from her collection and the pre-written orders she needed to fill. NYCfNAC was very impressed with Layla’s plan and the potential of her business. They supported her application and in November 2009, LESPFCU approved a $75,000 SBA Express loan. The loan enabled Layla to pay for fabric, manufacturing and shipping the orders. Thanks to LESPFCU, Between the Sheets has been shipping orders for three seasons now. They sell directly to consumers via their website, but their primary focus is selling to stores.
Currently their designs are being sold at high-end lingerie boutiques such as Faire Frou Frou in California and Journelle in NYC. Going forward they may decide to open a lifestyle store as well, but for now, securing orders with larger department stores is their goal. Layla was thrilled with the funding she received through the credit union. She explained, “They were such a huge help to us. Developing the brand and the product is such a major front end investment. And there is no guarantee of profitability down the line. Each season, as we pick up new stores it gets easier. But we wouldn’t have gotten to this point if we had not received the loan from LESPFCU through NYCfNAC.”