New President Marc Simhon expands Bon Bébé.
Marc Simhon’s personality fills up a room—and we mean that in the best possible way. As the new president of Bon Bébé, the New York-based 20-year-old purveyor of infant clothing (newborn to 6X), who joined the company in February, Simhon’s talks about his plans for the firm with such confidence, the observer has little doubt he can achieve his goals. “In three to five years, we can double our business,” he says.
A natural salesman—you know, the type who could sell you a beach-front property in Texas—Simhon says the opportunity is there for the taking. “We have a significant presence in the market, our company is very well-liked, we have great quality product at a good price point,” he explains, noting that his due diligence before joining the company included 23 fact-finding visits before compensation was even discussed. “We’re looking to expand within our customer base.”
Specifically, plans call for expanding Bon Bébé and René Rofé Baby in addition to maintaining brands Wildchild, Emily & Oliver, UR Active, Isaac Mizrahi New York and Rosie Pope. Simhon says growing product categories, such as blankets, pillows, hair accessories, hosiery and muslin, is the first priority. The company will also introduce gift box sets thanks to the segment’s sales which has come roaring back in the last few months. “We have a great professional, well-educated, well-oiled machine here,” says Simhon. “I think what was missing, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing to say, is a little more leadership.”
In addition, the firm is planning to produce more items in the U.S., another request from retailers. “There’s more opportunity in terms of price equations with the labor prices rising in China the last couple of years, the cost of importing things going up and fewer shippers doing it,” says James McPherson, Bon Bébé’s vice president and creative director. “There’s a little more parity in the market. So it’s not much more expensive to manufacturing certain items in the U.S.”
With a background in economics, Simhon says it isn’t the apparel or manufacturing side of the business that gets him stoked. Rather it’s selling and working with people. “I’m excited,” he says. “The [retail] landscape looks dreary but there’s still enough doors to do business out there. I think if you evolve, produce cool trendy products, advertise, cater to a specific customer and work hard, there’s enough business. I’m an optimist.”
And what is a good saleperson’s most effective weapon? “I’m not afraid to ask a stupid question, because I just got the best part of that conversation,” he says.