Legendary, Harlem-born Audrey
Smaltz who has been named three times to the International Best
Dressed List, is the CEO of the Ground Crew, the fashion
industry's first backstage management company. Her clients include
Donna Karan, Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, Bill Blass, Oscar De La
Renta, Gucci, J. Crew, Adrienne Vittadini, Carolyn Roehm, Vera
Wang, BET Network, Nordstrom, Victoria's Secret and many others.
Her company is coordinating a
fashion show's backstage operations. She makes sure that the
models are dressed, their hair is done and their makeup flawless.
She came up with the idea for the Ground Crew while working as a
fashion editor for Ebony Magazine. She noticed that designers'
family members were dressing models and handling backstage
matters. But in her heart, she knew that these relatives would
prefer being out watching the fashion shows.
It took her a long time to sell
the idea of backstage coordination to designers. She kept,
however, sending out letters and making phone calls. Her break
came when Bergdoft Goodman, the prestigious New York City
department store hired her. As luck would have it, a reporter from
the Wall Street Journal came to write about the Ground Crew.
Smaltz donned the writer in a signature "Ground Crew"
T-shirt and put her to work. The rest is history. The subsequent
story put her on the map and everyone wanted to know about the
Today, the company that mostly
hires African-Americans is run out of Smaltz's penthouse apartment
off Fifth Avenue in New York. Sometimes she employs three to four
teams as well as seamstresses, tailor and pressers to handle the
demands of her clients.
Does patience and persistence
pay off when starting a business? Yes. Smaltz can now look back
and see that her business idea handsomely paid off. "I'm
doing exactly what I please and what I love doing," she says.
You can check out the Ground
Crew's web site at www.groundcrew.net.