Veteran Sacramento dress designer Michael Sommerfield finally took his bridal collection to New York last year, a trip that resulted in several posh boutiques carrying his Miosa Couture.
“That was our first year that we showed,” Sommerfield said. “I wish I would have done it 15 years earlier. … It went off with a splash.”
The path to Sommerfield’s overnight success started when the designer was only 11 years old. His father, then a manager for Thrifty drugstores in the Sacramento area, ordered kits that contained fabric pieces to be sewn together. Customers, however, didn’t want to do the sewing, so Sommerfield earned $12 for each one he finished. The first kit took his entire summer vacation to complete, but after six months, he could stitch up a jacket in 45 minutes.
By the time he was 18, Sommerfield was doing contract alternations for a bridal salon and also opened a separate store called Alterations Express. He continued doing bridal contracts while building his business, which at one time included “the whole chain of Swansons dry-cleaning” outlets.
Sommerfield opened roughly seven stores, but eventually burned out and wanted a change. That’s when he opened Miosa, originally at the corner of 15th and L streets, where Cafeteria 15L is today. About 12 years ago, he relocated and expanded to 1125 J St.
At New York’s Bridal Fashion Week, Sommerfield’s collection was such a hit that he was invited to a party thrown by Martha Stewart’s company. There, while talking with designers such as Lazaro Perez and Hayley Paige, he heard someone behind him ask, ‘Who’s that?’
The whispered answer he heard in reply: ‘I think he’s Mr. Miosa.’
His wedding gowns are now sold at boutiques in seven U.S. cities, including the ultra-selective Mark Ingram Atelier in New York. He’ll give Sacramento a sneak peek at his 2015 collection at the Sacramento Couture Runway Bridal Show on Aug. 17 at Memorial Auditorium.
An ‘A’ for Ana Apple
Manzano’s plan for her Ana Apple Boutique and Creative Studio won the grand prize in the Calling All Dreamers contest created by the Downtown Sacramento Foundation. Her $135,000 prize in startup incentives includes a year of free rent.
She must raise $10,000 in matching funds. The Indiegogo campaign is her first shot, but to open her doors by September, she called upon a team of advisers amassed over the last year as a participant in the Flywheel Creative Economy Incubator. Run by the Arts & Business Council of Sacramento, Flywheel annually selects a small group of talented Sacramentans for mentoring. Manzano said she went through a finance boot camp, met business experts who shared insights, and found colleagues who hold her accountable.
Her network of mentors and friends helped with her entry in the Calling All Dreamers competition and now are helping as she applies for a small-business loan.
“At every single stage, I feel like I became a more seasoned business owner because I’d never ever done something like that before,” Manzano said.
Manzano has been selling her bibs, onesies, hoodies and other apparel for more than three years, at www.anaapple.com. Her company is profitable, as she prepares for expansion into a brick-and-mortar space at 1200 Second St. in Old Sacramento.
At her Old Sacramento boutique, Manzano will sell her clothing, but also plans to host kids’ classes in sewing, culinary arts, painting and more. She envisions parents-night-out packages where Mom and Dad have dinner at an Old Sacramento restaurant while their children do crafts and watch a movie. In fact, her Indiegogo page offers discounts on classes and parents-night-out deals.
Into the tank?
The founders of Bumbums & Baubles, Amanda Kludt and Caitlin Zapf, are all hush-hush about whether Sacramento will see them on the upcoming season of ABC’s “Shark Tank.”
The duo’s footwear company, Bumbums & Baubles, sells classic-looking girls’ footwear with detachable baubles in about 80 small stores across the nation. Kludt and Zapf say they are close to deals with large retailers, but to expand production, they need capital. Last month, they auditioned in San Diego for a chance to hook a multimillionaire investor on “Shark Tank.”
“You’re going to hate me,” Kludt said, “because I can’t say anything. I’m bound by a confidentiality agreement.”
What she did say: Last year, of about 40,000 people tried out for the show, 180 actually made it to filming. And only 120 of those were aired on the Friday night show. With those odds, it’s no wonder that Kludt and Zapf also took their campaign for angel funding to the streets of San Diego with a sign that read: “Will work for capital contribution of $500K.” Their guerrilla tactic won them a meeting with – and an offer from – two angel investors.
“We would have gotten all the money we wanted, but we would have had to give up too much equity in our company,” Kludt said. “It was for $500,000, in exchange for 40 percent.”