Patti Cazzato has come a long way from being the No. 8 by Sam & Libby when the shoe company was in its infancy about 30 years ago.
But she’s drawing on that experience and more as the new chief executive officer of NakedCashmere, a Southern California direct-to-consumer line of women’s and men’s cashmere launched seven years ago by husband-and-wife team Bruce and Leslie Gifford.
Last year, Luxembourg-based acquisition fund Legatus I acquired the parent company of the cashmere brand and began looking for a CEO.
They soon heard of Cazzato, who most recently headed Victoria’s Secret’s emerging businesses. In that job, last year she negotiated the lingerie company’s $18 million strategic investment in Frankies Bikinis, a swimwear and lifestyle brand started in Malibu, California, by Francesca Aiello and her mother. Mimi.
That thing got her noticed. It was done with The Sage Group, an investment bank in Los Angeles that spent a lot of time working out the finer details of the investment with Cazzato. When the new owners of NakedCashmere approached The Sage Group about potential CEO candidates, CEO and partner Paul Altman immediately thought of Cazzato.
The new CEO said the job leading parent company 360sweater and its subsidiary, NakedCashmere, intrigued her because it met her needs for a satisfying work experience. “I dug deep and asked what were one or two experiences that made me the happiest?” she said. “Those two things were being the founder of my company and later working as CEO of Timbuk2.”
Cazzato was reminiscing about his time in 2007 when he founded Clary Sage Organics, an eco-friendly hand-stitched yoga clothing company and holistic wellness center in San Francisco. He started the company a year before the Great Recession and had to self-finance his business for seven years. She made her learn a thing or two about running a business during tough times.
This led to his next job in 2014 as the CEO of Timbuk2, a San Francisco company that locally produced various types of bags and backpacks with sustainability in mind. Then she switched to Victoria’s Secret almost three years ago.
“My career has always been a combination of entrepreneurial ventures and some big multi-billion dollar businesses,” he shared.
In her new job at NakedCashmere, she’ll take the brand to the next level with a global reach, introducing new products, enhancing sustainability, and exploring retail opportunities beyond the one store Santa Monica-based NakedCashmere has in Aspen , Colorado. Up until now, NakedCashmere has been mostly d-to-c with nearly all of its sales in the United States. “We’re thinking about new ways of doing business,” Cazzato said.
First on the list is the development of a new line of cashmere to be knit in Italy, rather than Mongolia, that will have modern heirloom qualities and sell for $500 to $2,000. “We love some of the wonderful craftsmanship we can get from Italy,” said the new CEO. “We will make unique and collectible sweaters.”
The Italian-made luxury collection will complement NakedCashmere’s essential pieces of sweaters, skirts, dresses, ponchos, wraps, joggers, robes and pajamas made for women along with a men’s knitwear line selling from $200 to $650 “The Italian line will be launched under another label [for spring 2024] as a sub-brand,” Cazzato said, noting that she and her colleagues are working on a new name for the label. “This is a key move for us right now creating memorabilia.”
She will later make the brand more dimensional by adding items that can be worn with NakedCashmere products, such as jewelry or silk pieces. “I’m not going to do a complete collection [of jewelry or silk] but introduce nice concepts that go well with your cashmere,” she explained, adding that that too will launch for Spring 2024.
The company’s website has been redesigned to make it easier for international customers to shop online and ship their purchases overseas. Right now, the majority of NakedCashmere’s D-to-C sales are made in the United States, but there’s a huge market for the brand’s merchandise to explore.
In addition to online sales, Cazzato wants to develop relationships with luxury retailers, including boutiques and spas, where the customer can touch and feel the product. It’s also exploring pop-up store opportunities to see which direction company-owned retail could go. “There’s a lot to do,” Cazzato said. “It will be very exciting.”