Schlang forms co.; joins Haywin

Marvin Lazaro, February 4, 2002

NEW YORK – Almost three months after announcing his split with Davidson Cotton Co., Charlie Schlang has struck out on his own again by forming a new company under his direction and, in turn, forging a relationship with Haywin Textile Products and a position with them.

Going hand-in-hand with the hiring of Schlang, Haywin president and ceo Greg Haft said the company was striking out in a new direction and would soon be marketing a new line of products to both department and specialty stores.

Schlang, formerly the executive vp for the Charlotte, NC-based Davidson, told Home Textiles Today that the name of his new company will be Renaissance America, and he will serve as its ceo. The company's mission, Schlang said, "is to be a sales and marketing organization with strategic alliances with textile mills in Europe, India, China and Mexico."

The new company, Schlang added, will build exclusive sales arrangements with mills located in those countries, and market its products to U.S.-based distributors. Both converters and private label retail operations in the upper end and department store areas will be the beneficiaries of the manufacturing agreement.

In addition to bedding, Schlang said there would be an emphasis on bath and beach products, and as a result of his joining the company, there would be an expanded use of outsourced design teams that best suit the products Haywin is designing. Schlang also fully expects to have new product ready for retailers to view in time for April's spring market.

Looking to benefit from the formation of Renaissance America as well as Schlang's many years of experience in manufacturing and sourcing will be Haywin, which will source some non-competitive product from Renaissance America. Haywin has signed Schlang to be the company's director of business development for department and specialty stores, a newly created position that reports directly to Haft. Schlang officially joined Haywin on Jan. 28 and will work out of the company's 261 5th Ave. showroom/offices.

"This is a great opportunity to work with Haywin and help them grow to a grander level," Schlang said. "They've been very, very successful going from a jobber level to mass market to the mid-level market. Now, we're looking to raise the bar a little higher."

Haft said Haywin was on the verge of signing two "highly recognized department store brands," which will help bring Haywin to the next level of distribution. Haft said Schlang's expertise in product development and sourcing, as well as his experience in opening a dialogue and negotiating with department and specialty stores, will give Haywin an added edge in the company's new channel of distribution.

"Charlie's expertise is going to do a number of things. No. 1, he will help open us up to a network of branding and licensing opportunities. No. 2, he'll start up the dialogue we need in order to get to the retailers. No. 3, he has specific product expertise in levels that the company has not previously concentrated on, and he has a large amount of sourcing contacts," Haft said.

"We're definitely evolving as a company," said Maureen Granger, vp, marketing for Haywin. "Charlie is a huge complement to our business, and he will help move that business forward — and much more quickly."

"We're going to show that level of trade that they're not going to be just an extension of our existing business," Haft said. "We're going to have an exclusive branding strategy with product lines with much-better-quality merchandise than what we've sold in the past," Haft added. "These new programs will have average retail price points that are considerably higher than what we've sold in the past."

Although Schlang will continue to have outside interests, namely Renaissance America, both he and Haft said that there would be no clash between the two companies, as Renaissance would market product to other companies that was non-conflicting with Haywin's interests.

Despite the new focus, Haft was quick to point out that it did not mean Haywin was abandoning the retail relationships it has forged over the years. In order to avoid the problems that may arise from the same staff servicing two widely different levels, a completely new sales strategy was being formulated with new, dedicated personnel, brands, product development teams and sourcing.

"This represents a significant expansion of our business," Haft said. "In the next two or three years, I would hope to grow our department and specialty store levels to be 25 percent to 30 percent of our business.

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