How Renowned Bag Designer Peter Gryson Overcame a Huge Business Hurdle

Peter Gryson and his wife, Joy, owners of Tribeca Design Ltd., make high-end shoes and handbags that are coveted by celebrities and international fashionistas alike. Their bags grace the shelves of their Tribeca boutique (where they sell with Square) and have also been sold at posh retailers like Neiman Marcus, Saks, Bloomingdales, Bergdorf’s, and Barneys.

Things were going splendidly for the company until last spring, when a massive union strike at the Port of Los Angeles halted its spring inventory, and Gryson worried about the impact it would have on his business.

But Square’s small business financing program, Square Loans, pulled him through. With the additional funds, Gryson was able to recoup his losses from the strike by supplementing his inventory while the bulk of it was tied up. He also used the money to bring on new vendors and grow his marketing initiatives.

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And now things are back on the upswing. Tribeca Design is even expanding internationally this year, opening up a new storefront in Seoul, South Korea. Ahead of the fall fashion frenzy, we caught up with Peter to learn more about how he put Square Loans to work and to get his tips for up-and-coming designers on getting your name out there.


Square: How did you start your business?
Gryson: I was formerly president of Calvin Klein’s men’s accessories, and my wife, Joy, was design director of Marc Jacobs accessories. Nine years ago, we both left corporate life to start our own business, Tribeca Design Ltd. Within the firm, we have our own in-house brand, Joy Gryson, and another brand called Tribeca. Two years ago, we opened our own store under the Joy Gryson brand, and Square has been our point-of-sale system ever since.

How did the strike at the ports affect your business?
Because of the strike, no one could unload shipments from overseas. Inventory from our manufacturers in Italy and Asia was stuck at the ports. Supply chain distribution went really slowly this year as a result. We still hadn’t received our goods for the spring come March. As an independent business trying to ship out merchandise and not being able to do that for two months, we were really impacted. It drained our cash flow and dramatically backed us up for the first two quarters. I happened to get an email from Square that same month, asking if I was interested in getting money through its business financing program, Square Loans. The information was clear, and I could easily tell how much money I would get and how much it would cost. Plus the timing was good, so I wanted to take advantage of it.

How did you use Square Loans to help?
It was a very seamless process. Funds were transferred the next business day, and we used them across the board from paying vendors and payroll to general supplies and marketing initiatives. Without the advance, I would have been hard pressed to bring in supplementary inventory. I don’t like the idea of taking traditional loans, but this is different. It comes right off of my daily sales, and I don’t even have to think about it.

Do you have any advice for up-and-coming businesses on how to market themselves to get noticed by stores like Saks?
Make a killer product and get it in front of the right people. There are a lot of people who make incredible products but don’t get them in front of other people. While Joy and I created a global distribution brand right away with our experience from the corporate world, we launched our own brand through a showroom owned by a friend –– not Neiman –– who incubated new brands in the fashion field. This platform captured an audience, the right audience — the one I wanted our products to be distributed to. So, I’d say first, identify the right platform to have your products viewed, and look for windows of opportunity to communicate the great things you’re doing. Whether it’s to a department store, a boutique, or another channel, find a way to make your product attractive and visible. If people never see it, they’ll never know about it.

Any interesting future plans for your business?
We’ll be opening another branch in Seoul, South Korea. We also recently accepted a second Square Capital advance and used it to produce additional inventory for an event we were having in the store. The capital came right in time and helped us grow.

Learn more about how Square Loans can help you grow your business.

About Square Loans

Square Loans, our simple small business financing program, is designed to make it quick and easy for independent businesses to get money to grow. Once a Square Capital offer is approved, it’s transferred into a business owner’s account as fast as the next day.