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Kimberley Newport-Mimran (Tom Sandler)
Kimberley Newport-Mimran (Tom Sandler)

Leadership: Kimberley Newport-Mimran

Standing your ground in tough negotiations Add to ...

"I'm a list girl," says Kimberley Newport-Mimran, co-founder, president and creative designer for Pink Tartan, a Canadian sportswear line for women.

"I start my workday with a very detailed list and I try to knock everything off in priority sequence."

Ms. Newport-Mimran began her fashion career in retail at 14, progressing to buying, merchandising and product development. She started designing the year before founding Pink Tartan in 2002 with husband Joe Mimran, the original founder of Club Monaco and the man behind Joe Fresh Style.

"To be a good designer, you have to be a good technical person, be good at fabrics and all the different things it takes to make a garment work," says Ms. Newport-Mimran, who deals with everything from marketing to development for the company. "It's a lot to be juggling at one time."

She describes herself as a detail person with a good memory.

"Fashion is all in the details," Ms. Newport-Mimran says. "I love a list because I don't like to forget anything."

Pink Tartan opened a showroom in the meat packing district in New York in the fall of 2004 and now sells to major stores in the United States, including Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale's.

As 80 per cent of its current business is in the United States and about 20 per cent in Canada, the headquarters are in New York and the development studio is in Toronto, where Ms. Newport-Mimran lives.

She says the challenges in selling to the U.S. market are the large size of the department stores and the level of politics to get things done.

"You have to have great product to break through," Ms. Newport-Mimran says. She feels lucky that her product has been picked up by such celebrities as Kim Cattrall and Kate Hudson. "Having a celebrity endorse it makes people more aware of the brand."

She thinks the biggest misconception that people have about what she does is that it's a glamorous business.

"There's a bit of glamour sprinkled in there, but it's a lot of hard work," she says. "It's a tough, competitive business, but it looks pretty, so people think that it's easier than it actually is. There has to be a new collection every season, so you're only as good as your last collection."

The most challenging parts of the business are timing and execution. "It's a lot of chasing, development and redesigning because things don't always turn out perfectly the first time," Ms. Newport-Mimran says. "There's a lot of moving parts coming to a drop-dead date of when you have to be to market."

Starting out on the buying end has given Ms. Newport-Mimran an edge when it comes to negotiating, as does an understanding of different cultures. The company deals with Europe, Asia and North America.

"I'm a good negotiator; I've sat on the other side of the table," she says. "I think you have to really analyze things and be educated in the area you're working in. It's about building relationships and negotiating with integrity."

She sees herself as a tough leader who expects her team to work as hard and love it as much as she does. "People have to love what they do to do a good job. You can always tell when they're not; not caring is one of my pet peeves. At least, pretend you do."

Ms. Newport-Mimran's morning rituals include cuddling with her daughter, a quick walk on the treadmill and a big glass of vegetable juice before getting to work. She tries to be in bed by 10:30 p.m. because she believes it's important for the creative brain to have rest.

Her motto: "Live in the moment. It's always about the present moment."

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