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FN Spy the Magazine: Trump Talk

Her family's mantra has always been to think big. Now, Ivanka Trump is growing her namesake fashion business.

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Even at seven months pregnant, Ivanka Trump isn’t slowing down.

The young entrepreneur’s footwear line continues to experience huge growth and she is gearing up to launch children’s shoes for spring ’14 — a fitting move since Trump and husband Jared Kushner will soon welcome their second child.

In addition, the savvy businesswoman is expanding into apparel, plotting e-commerce and spearheading several ambitious renovation projects within her family’s real estate business. “Obviously, the most important thing I’m working on is my pregnancy, but there are exciting things going on with both the Trump Organization and my brand,” said the founder and CEO of the Ivanka Trump Collection.

The children’s launch will be an extension of her relationship with Marc Fisher Footwear, which debuted the namesake shoe line in 2010 and will show the spring ’14 collection at FN Platform this week.

“I have found a lack of cute, chic and stylish footwear for kids,” said Trump. “I wanted my collection to be an extension of my aesthetic and my brand, which is polished, feminine, flirty and playful, but refined.”

Not surprisingly, she’s eager to dress her children in the looks, too. “I’m most excited to have a great line to select from for [my daughter] Arabella and my next baby,” said Trump, who stayed mum about the gender of the newest addition.

The expansion comes as Trump’s core offering continues to major experience success: In 2012, the brand’s sales grew sevenfold over 2011. A number of department stores, including Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor and Macy’s, have been big supporters of the line, which is priced from $120 to $250.

 “The shoes are built beautifully, they fit well, they are really aspirational and at great price points,” said Marc Fisher President Susan Itzkowitz. “The line continues to evolve and get better.” She added that while the collection is known for its pumps and dress shoes, the brand plans to move more aggressively into casual looks, plus booties and boots.

“We are trend-conscious, but not very trendy,” said Trump. “One of the strongest areas of my collection are great career shoes for stylish, modern, professional working women.”

Top retailer partners agree with her assesment. “Ivanka has done a nice job of incorporating her own personal style into the line,” said Scott Meden, EVP and GMM of the shoe division at Nordstrom. “We feel very positive about the future of the brand, [based on] the combination of Ivanka’s unique perspective, the pretty, feminine interpretation of trends and the fantastic price and value quotient.”

The spring ’14 line, for example, includes gladiator styles, work flats, wedges, pumps in both neutral tones and metallics.

As Trump has broadened the collection, she has learned a number of important lessons along the way.

“The technicality of it has been very surprising,” said the native New Yorker. “I’m a student of architecture, and all of our real estate ventures have great appreciation for architecture and craftsmanship. But to make a great shoe that’s comfortable and functional and fits the foot right, you have to be an architect of a different kind. I don’t know if I fully appreciated that until I understood the level of complication, through working with Marc [Fisher].”

Getting to know her consumer also has helped to tailor the designs.

“I’m learning a tremendous amount about the women I want to dress and what resonates with them. I use their [taste] to refine my collection,” said Trump. Her target shopper, she said, is 25 to 35 years old, “professional, strong and confident, but feminine.”

Now that Trump has a strong consumer base, she’s thinking far beyond footwear. Her apparel collection launches for the third quarter, and next year, the designer will venture into cold-weather accessories (think hats and scarves), bedding and bath, as well as sunglasses.

Back at The Trump Organization — where Trump continues to lead the charge as EVP of development and acquisitions — the real estate company is renovating the Trump National Doral in Miami and the famous Old Post Office Building in Washington, D.C.

Trump is clearly a multitasker and she keeps her fans informed about all of her business ventures on Twitter, where she tweets about everything from current events to her many travels. “I enjoy posting a variety of things, both personally and professionally, but without going too far on the personal side,” said Trump. “It is amazing to be able to communicate so directly with my followers and [consumers] and to present my message to them unfiltered.”

To gain insight into running her many projects, she often turns to her famous dad, Donald Trump — just maybe not when it comes to design aesthetics. “From a styling perspective, no, but from a general perspective, yes, [I get his advice],” said Trump, who acts as an adviser on her father’s NBC show “Celebrity Apprentice.”

“My father is my ultimate mentor. He is a total genius. As I think about the bigger-picture growth initiatives, he’s someone I consult frequently.”

So how does she juggle it all? “I always talk about balance in terms of refined priorities, and that’s what I hold myself to. Balance is something you can’t plan to have, because life happens,” said Trump. “Work or family situations arise that require attention. They key is, at the end of every day or week, to be reflective about your priorities and where they should be.”

IVANKA'S VEGAS
Number of times in Las Vegas:
“So many. Trump International Hotel is right on the Strip. I was very involved in that development, so I visit frequently.”

Favorite memory:
“I went to visit recently with my husband and daughter, Arabella. The timeline of developing a project is so long that you invest so much energy. To see the hotel open and see people enjoying it is great. It was a great time to go with my family.”

Best performance:
“Cirque du Soleil Beatles Love. It was a lot of fun.”

Favorite restaurant:
“DJT at the Trump Hotel. The décor is amazing. It’s very chic, very art deco and the food is unbelievable. It’s always a must-visit for me.”

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