Evelyn Luna, designer, along with her husband, Scott Chester, serial entrepreneur, launched clothing line, ACID NYC. Together they have taken their experiences in industrial design, engineering, manufacturing, textile design, photography and painting to create a luxury lifestyle brand.
ACID NYC creates modern silhouettes designed with limited edition, unique and vibrant prints for women and men that can be worn from day to evening. Once again, they showcased their collection during New York Fashion Week (NYFW) at the Nolcha Shows, founded by Arthur Mandel and Kerry Bannigan, which is a leading award-winning event for independent fashion designers to showcase their collections to a global audience. This season’s collection, ARCHITECTURA, is the beauty and structure of urban architecture. The prints and fabric choices are a study of modern metal and glass facades and neoclassical buildings with carved cornices of chiseled marble and cast cement.
“It’s resort wear,” they smile while describing their brand. “It’s also for people who like colors and patterns who want to be seen.” This year’s NYFW collection is bright, bold and unforgettable. They design pieces that grab the attention of onlookers. The husband and wife duo strategically create and design pieces that not only are trendy but timeless.
Before launching their company, they both had experience within the design realm. Luna graduated from New York’s Parsons School of Design. For 13 years, she was a key member of Diane Von Furstenberg’s (DVF) original design staff that re-launched the DVF brand and its myriad of successful designs. She subsequently became Director of DVF’s textile department in addition to her position as Head Designer. Her experience also includes working at Victoria’s Secret Lingerie, Sleepwear and Swimwear before opening up her own consulting firm.
ACID, Arielle Chester Industrial Design, was coined after Chester’s daughter when he opened a custom design furniture studio. In 1998, he joined forces with Jon Drew and Marvin Samel to develop ACID Cigars, a premium, hand-rolled Cigar brand manufactured in Nicaragua. The startup became a sought after boutique brand that was purchased in 2014 by Swisher International. Over that following year, Luna and Chester began strategizing how and what their own fashion would look like; what type of brand they wanted to create.
“One of the biggest hurdles,” Chester replies, “is first you have to centralize. We photograph the subject matter, then print the fabric. From the fabric stage, we had to find a factory that could make the samples, we run the samples down the runway, then we did a small production; all these things, it’s about two years’ worth of development and all that is without anyone [helping]. You’re spending your own money, developing your website, you get a small production and then you have to let people know what you’re doing which comes down to social media. All this has to be done before you make one sale. It’s a huge hurdle that stops a lot of small companies.”
In addition, Luna adds, “It’s that upfront investment that makes it difficult for small businesses just starting out. We were a little luckier that we could fund it at the beginning. To keep it going is the difficult part.” Year-to-year, collection-to-collection, ACID evolves as a brand. “I think it’s gotten more concise,” she continues. “We’re more focused. Before there were a few themes. Now we’re strategically planning out more themes.”
When launching ACID, Luna and Chester had to transition their mindsets from each having their own companies to now working as husband and wife. “Overall it works well,” Luna smiles. “Don’t get me wrong, we have our moments. In the end, it all balances out.” Chester adds, “after a while, you understand disagreements aren’t life-threatening. I know her very well and she has a high standard of quality. If I’m not there to make a decision, I know she’ll make the right decision. We’re both thinking of success.”
Having both worked for different companies, and both having their own companies prior to launching ACID, they focus on the following essential steps to help them expand their brand:
- Not only do you have to make a lot of connections, but you have to foster those relationships into something substantial.
- Develop an off-ramp strategy. If you are at a job now you don’t have to quit tomorrow. You have to put together a plan, which can take weeks or months. Then you have to understand that you have to make some contacts and you can do that all while you’re working. If you quit, you’re out of money and you have to find another job and your whole thing gets derailed. Work on what you love while you’re doing the work you’re doing. Use the resources from the situation you have if you can. At a certain point when things start to clash and your job starts to take time away from doing your thing, then at that point, you can say ‘I don’t need this anymore’ and go down the other road. You will know when the fork in the road is.
- Do your research. However, don’t do it to the point where it scares you out of doing what you want to do.
“I would tell my younger self,” Luna concludes, “that it’s not as glamorous as you think. It’s a lot of hard work. If you’re going to pursue something, make sure it is something you really love because you’re going to spend a lot of time and a lot of late nights working on it.”
Soon to be Dr. Cheryl Robinson with an Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership. I’ve learned to successfully pivot throughout my career in order to achieve my goals.
Keep writing your life!