McCallum, Lustig acquire Stanley King business
By Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, 8/12/2002 12:00:00 AM
NEW YORK —
Stanley King, one of the major design forces in decorative fabrics for half a century, summed up his daytime career by giving credit to others.
"I got where I am because of what I learned in New York schools," he said. "And I got rich making rich people richer."
King and Joan Beatty, partners and co-founders of Stanley King Design Studio, have sold their business to a new company formed by Elkin McCallum, chairman of Joan Fabrics Corp., and Debbye Lustig, design director of the King Studios. Lustig is president of the new company, now called Madison Avenue Designs.
"Debbye's been running the studio for a while as Stanley has traveled more and [she] is more than capable of running the whole thing," McCallum remarked. "They have done wonderful things for Mastercraft, and I took advantage of the opportunity. I bought into one of my key suppliers. Their contribution to Mastercraft's success is substantial."
King and Beatty will continue as design consultants for five years for the new entity, King said.
Joan Fabrics' Mastercraft division and Fabricut of Tulsa, OK, have been the major clients of the design studio for the past 20 years and will continue their relationship.
The studio will continue to focus on Mastercraft and Fabricut. "That is its first obligation," McCallum said, "[but] if they have an opportunity to do more outside, they can. But they have a very full plate."
The King studio started primarily as a print design studio, with most of its customers the major converters, including Covington, John Wolf and P/Kaufmann.
"Peter Kaufmann taught me about working on royalties," King said. "Until then companies insisted on just paying a pattern fee. Royalties changed that."
As Mastercraft and Fabricut became more and more important several decades ago, "we let all the others go, and the two companies have a good working relationship," King explained. For Mastercraft, King designs have been known to generate as much as 16 million yards or $70 million a year.
Looking back, King said, "I owe my career to the city of New York. I went to Stranbenmueller High School, and designs just came naturally. They just flowed."
As for the fabric design business today, King candidly said, "I don't know if I'd recommend it to young people." As for changes, he saw the biggest as being the move to computer design, where "they can do six or eight color plates a day vs. one by hand."
Selling the business became logical, he said. "We have a young vp, Debbye, who wanted it. In addition, Joan, who is an all-round genius, was thinking of retiring, and Elkin needs Debbye's creative flair."
And as King noted, "Everyone's half my age, and, besides, as Andrew Major [the former head of Mastercraft] pointed out, we're on a winning streak and a lot of our input changed the industry. We helped them move from 180 looms to 900 looms."
The eight-person staff here will be moving soon to 60 Madison Avenue, along with the half-century of archives of fabric documents and designs. The seven designers in North Carolina will be moving to the new Mastercraft marketing and design facility in Hickory, NC.
According to Lustig, "We'll continue pretty much as we have. We get much more involved in what the loom weaves ? we refine it and refine it again."
As for the computers, Lustig said, "Most of what we did back then was painted artwork. We still generate artwork. But much of what we do is on the computer, and we actually get much better aesthetics since we can work with the yarns to make a picture. The new closeness with the mill will make it even better. This is important since we need to keep bringing better perceived value."
David Finer, principal of Fabricut, said, "The King studio is a tremendous creative force. I met Stanley through my father, who was his contemporary. He's been a student of our business as well as a wonderful human being."
Finer added, "Debbye is prolific, honest; and I'm fully confident about our relationship. They all have high creative energy and understand our brand."
As for King, he will continue to head Stanley's Washboard Kings, which plays regular jazz gigs at Cajun, a restaurant here. He's played in Japan and at Carnegie Hall with the Preservation Jazz Band.
As the studio is dismantled his collection of Charles Lindbergh collectible planes, which he termed "the largest collection of Lindbergh that exists," will be going to the Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian. And travels will take him to his place in Australia, on Fore Island, here in the West Village or to the south of France to paint.
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