Even though Marla Ginsburg, designer of the successful HSN label Marla Wynne, just celebrated her line’s 4th anniversary, she’s still in a bit of shock about her line’s success. She launched her second successful career when most women might think about cutting back. Better still, she loves what she does. Her story is awe inspiring. Read on…
During a career as a television producer that spanned two decades and two continents, Marla Ginsburg was admired as much for her sartorial sense as for her co-productions, like “Highlander” and “La Femme Nikita.” Yet, according to Marla “There comes a time in the entertainment business when you are done. I wanted a Second Act I would love as much as the first one”. So it was not surprising that when she left the TV business, she segued into the fashion world. It wasn’t as seamless as you might think.
Ginsburg isn’t afraid of change. She actually started her television career in Chicago and worked her way to LA. Twenty some years ago, she made her first radical lifestyle change when she picked up and moved to Paris from Los Angeles. It was an unorthodox career move for a fast moving Senior Vice President of a major Hollywood studio, but Marla wanted a kind of adventure and romance she felt was missing from her life. In Paris, she spent a decade as the Head of International TV Co-Production for the venerated French film company, Gaumont and later ran her own production company.
However, a deal with ABC/Touchstone brought Marla and her two children back to California in 2003. She made several pilots that never made it to series and when the 2007 Writer’s Strike stretched into 2008, Marla knew that finding post-strike work was as “likely as finding a natural blonde in Beverly Hills”. Over many a contemplative glass of chardonnay she would “sketch and dream,” coming up with the idea of a clothing line “by a boomer woman for boomer women.”
Once upon a time, (literally in another century when the number 5 came after the number 3 in my age) I was a svelte and leggy size 10 living the life of an American in Paris. I traveled the world producing television shows, fell in love with my Prince Charming, had two beautiful babies and thought I would live happily ever after.
Little did I know that while I was making plans God was laughing her ass off and mine would be expanding! Now the 5 comes first when I fill in the “age blanks”. I am a walking microclimate as my hormones rage and my estrogen evaporates. I find hairs on my chin and gray ones on my head. My Prince is so much less charming that we are no longer together and our two beautiful children have morphed into moody teenagers that should be avoided at all costs —although supporting them costs a bloody fortune! Enter her Second Act…
Ginsbuerg’s clothes featured sophisticated shapes in soft, slinky fabrics, garments that covered the “Icky bits” as she calls the parts of her now size 14 body that are not as toned as they used to be. “The designers I love don’t think it is all that exciting to design for menopausal women with living in their own little micro-climates with shifting body parts. All it takes is a thoughtful approach to fit and being mindful of some of the icky bits (like upper arms and muffin tops) that we want covered without looking like we’ve given up and put on moo moo’s. I wanted fashion, but I want it age appropriate, so that’s what I make” says Ginsburg.
In mid-2008, Ginsburg brought in partners to write a business plan for her new fashion line and found a company that agreed to finance the project in exchange for a controlling interest but pulled out abruptly when the market tanked. Ginsburg forged ahead on her own, cash flowing her business while searching for alternatives in a terrible economy. It was Creative Artists Agency, which had once represented her as a TV producer, that ultimately sold Ginsburg as a designer by bringing her to HSN and introducing her to a Montreal based company willing to cash flow the business, but it meant giving up ownership all together. Having almost depleted her own resources, she had to sell her home on a short sale. It was a devastating time for someone used to success.
However, as a single mom “You do what you have to do,” and so for the second time in five years, Marla moved her family to a new country — Canada. After a little over two years “living in the Arctic” and unsatisfied with the results of her new manufacturers, Ginsburg was able to negotiate back the rights to her company.
She once again relocated, this time to New York, where the results of her work with Nation has earned Marla’s brand (MarlaWynne) a June “Host Pick”, a re-launch of the brand in July, a spot on the networks “L.A. Insider Event” in August, followed by two more shows before the years end – as many shows as she was able to deliver over two years with her former manufacturers. Kay Koplovitz, founder of USA Networks and Chairman of the Board of Liz Claiborne, and the author of “Bold Women, Big Ideas” predicts that Ginsburg, whom she worked with in the television world, will be as successful in fashion as she was In TV. “Both business are about having the right product for the consumer in the marketplace at the right time,” she said. “Marla is very capable of focusing on the creative side but also has a good sense of how to market a brand.”
This time Ginsburg believes she not only has the right product at the right time, she has the right manufacturers. In between designing her collection and loving her new life in New York, Ginsburg, a self-proclaimed luddite, is also learning how to twitter and tweet, blog and reach out directly to the Boomers she so passionately designs for.
I wanted to find a Second Act that I would love. I also thought maybe I could combine my creativity with my passion for clothes. So out of the muck that had become my life, at a time when I thought retirement was closer than the beginning of my career, I started a new one. The learning curve was, and continues to be, steep. I have had to find all sorts of new ways to eat crow and make humble pie (email me for recipes). However, I love it. I am doing something I believe in, and am pursuing a dream.
In retrospect I have realized that in your 20’s you get hired for your potential, in your 30’s for your skill set, in your 40’s for your track record and then sometimes in your 50’s you have to get in touch with your new potential. The only thing you can sell is the potential of your vision. I knew starting out I wouldn’t be making the money I was used to and that I wouldn’t have the same kind of title, power or respect. But I did know that finding new potential in myself at 50 would give me a new lease on life which would me more valuable to me then what I had, which was a dwindling bank account and no desire to try and stay in an industry that I had lost all passion for. I had to be willing to fail and replace my pride with a strong belief in my new potential. I couldn’t look back at what I used to do but only ahead at what I was setting out to do. I wasn’t going to look over my shoulder or compare myself to my competition because all of that is meaningless if you are driven by passion and believe in what you are doing.
However, you do need to know as much as you can about the business sector you’re going into and I did my homework. At this stage of the game you have advantage that you’re standing on a mountain of experience. When you get on a horse, if you look down at where you are now, you’ll fall off. You have to look at where you want to go and that’s how you jump over the hurdles. You have to be fearless and get ridiculous. Nothing is impossible…after all, I am celebrating four years on HSN!
Ginsburg admits none of her success would have happened without the support of HSN which is so welcoming of women. She now has one of the fastest growing brands on the network. There are over 40 million boomer women today and I just happen to be one of them. Yet, the clothes we are supposed to wear are designed by young women and men who don’t have a clue about a hot flash and our changing bodies. My clothes are a fit solution and an incredible product at an affordable price point.
Catch Marla Ginsburg and her new collection on HSN July 21 & 22. Or shop her collection here.
– Lauren Dimet Waters