By GREGORY ZELLER //
The dynamic duo at Impish Lee are looking to produce their own summer blockbuster, with a little help from the world’s most famous Amazonian princess (and Aunt Claudia).
Noelle and Kali Ventresca, cofounders of the Sea Cliff-based customized-lingerie manufacturer, have embarked on what the Impish Lee website dubs a “Wonder Woman mission” – encouraging customers to draw inspiration from the heroine of the biggest summer movie so far, or perhaps the cleavage-baring version of the 1970s.
Whichever incarnation customers gravitate toward – Lynda Carter’s long-legged pinup or Gal Gadot’s ass-kicking warrior – Diana Prince is “a powerful, woman-inspired iconic character,” noted Noelle Ventresca, and that’s the point of Impish Lee’s new Wonder Woman page, which went live last week.
“We’ve always been about empowering women,” Ventresca said. “This fits right in with that.”
The cofounder actually credited the idea to her aunt, Claudia Welch, herself an Impish Lee customer and ardent supporter. It was Welch who suggested the entrepreneurial sisters capitalize on the current Wonder Woman craze, fueled by the smash-hit success of the new Warner Bros. film.
“With the movie coming out, everybody is kind of thinking about Wonder Woman,” Ventresca noted. “We got inspired by Claudia, and we created the new page.”
For sure, the page harkens more to the tarted-up 1970s television version than the modern “Xena: Warrior Princess” spin. Still leveraging Impish Lee’s state-of-the-art garment customizer, the page starts with a selection of deep blues, bright reds and metallic accents – fabrics that are “inspired by Wonder Woman,” according to Ventresca.
From there, users can dive deeper into Impish Lee’s many styles, sizes and other customizations, creating something that might not exactly replicate Wonder Woman’s iconic designs, but certainly shares the same origin story.
“We created a palate for women to work with these colors and kind of customize something inspired by the superhero,” Ventresca said. “Customers are still using our designs and inspirations, rather than creating an exact Wonder Woman replica.”
And if the bright colors and inherent sex appeal are more reminiscent of Carter’s amatory Amazonian, that’s not to say 21st century feminists won’t find a look that fits their tough-but-tender modern sensibilities.
“I think the metallic fabrics can reflect that ‘armor’ feeling,” Ventresca noted. “Our metallic fabrics are very shiny and kind of bright, and they actually look like metal.”
While the page only went live June 10, Impish Lee is already reporting a Wonder-ful uptick in website visitors. The cofounders have promoted the new offering with a few key social media posts – still their marketing method of choice – and it seems to be working, according to Ventresca.
“We’re definitely getting some traffic from it,” she told Innovate LI. “It’s a popular character women can really relate to.”
Meanwhile, the entrepreneurs are continuing to develop Impish Lee in other ways, some more rapidly than others.
Their involvement with Custom Consortium, a new online marketplace specializing in customizable products, has yet to bear fruit, but that’s more a reflection of the consortium’s slow start than anything the lingerie maker is or isn’t doing.
“It’s taking time, which is what we expected going into it,” Ventresca noted. “We know what it’s like building a brand like this, and especially building a customizer. We knew it would take time to get their website up to par.”
The sisters are still “hoping for big things” when Custom Consortium finds its footing, she added, but as the fashion hub inches toward its full-on marketing phase, they’re not sitting idly.
For one thing, they’re “looking to do a little more with boutiques,” Ventresca said, including allowing a few in the Long Island and New York City markets to create their own Impish Lee-labeled lines – a chance to bulk up a few wholesale orders that allow customers to actually touch Impish Lee products, the cofounder noted, while hopefully driving them to the online customizer to create their own styles.
“It will be really great for the boutiques, because they’ll be able to design something they know will sell – they know their customers, and we’re giving them trillions of options to create an Impish Lee collection specifically for those customers,” Ventresca said. “Then, we hope those customers will fall in love with those products and come to our site to customize their own.
“We need to get our name out there anyway we can,” she added. “To have a physical store carry our brand is a big step in that direction.”
The entrepreneurs hope to have unique Impish Lee-tagged products in a handful of regional stores by the end of the summer. Until then, they’ll be working closely with a large number of interns, attracted during “career day” events at local high schools and by an ongoing internship application on the Indeed job-board website.
The interns represent more than just cheap labor, Ventresca noted. Packing them into Impish Lee’s 600-square-foot manufacturing space not only benefits the company, but serves as an important example for the pre-professionals, who are mostly female.
“It’s nice for them to see two women going through the struggles of running a startup,” Ventresca said. “They see an example of women who are making it happen.
“And meanwhile, they get a feel for what they would doing if they had a career in fashion, or marketing and PR,” she added. “We have a lot to offer these young women.”