April 1, 2003
With a love of fashion kindled during their youth, twin brothers Ronald and Rony Delice are igniting the runways, and men’s fashion, with their edgy designs.
In 1997, the Haitian-born brothers founded Ron & Ron, a designer clothing and accessories label that features topstitching, fat-knot ties, and red buttonholes–elements that have become the brother’s trademark. “Fashion is in our blood,” says Ronald, whose father worked as a tailor in Haiti and whose mother was a seamstress in New York City. “It just comes naturally.”
The 36-year-old twins, who recently received The Rising Star Award for men’s apparel by Fashion Group International–an association dedicated to promoting global trends in fashion–are building their label into a powerhouse of style. Boasting 2002 revenues of $275,000 and projecting $475,000 for this year, the Delice brothers list celebrities Will Smith and New York Knick Latrell Sprewell among their clients. The brothers feature made-to-measure wears in their New York City showroom, in addition to a few specialty stores. Their suits range in price from $2,000 to $8,500.
Since they were young, the duo has had a passion for fashion, says Ronald, recalling the excitement he and his brother shared as children when they donned their Sunday suits for church. Ronald and Rony went on to earn degrees in fashion merchandising and accessories design from New York City’s acclaimed Fashion Institute of Technology. After graduation, the inseparable pair landed positions as custom tailors for Beau Brummel. The boutique owner eventually asked them to create a signature line for the store. “Our style was totally different from the stuff that the store carried,” says Rony. “We have always just done our own thing.”
After a 10-year run with the boutique, the brothers built a sizable clientele and decided to venture off on their own to create fashions influenced by their Haitian roots. With a combined savings of $35,000, the brothers purchased fabric and obtained a manufacturer for their wholesale line. “Our first year went smoothly,” says Ronald of the two-employee company. “Usually, even if you know what you’re doing, it’s terrible. But we were very focused.” He admits, however, that recent slumps in retail sales throughout the industry have impacted the company’s growth.
With all their experience in design and fashion, it was the business aspect of the Delice brothers’ venture that represented the greatest challenge. “Doing the bookkeeping, paying the bills, and just doing the business plan was harder for us than designing clothing,” says Ronald. “We’re more artists than business people.” Overcoming that challenge meant bringing in the right people. For the brothers, that meant bringing aboard Ronald’s wife, Shelly, who is a seasoned entrepreneur and a designer of children’s toys.
Delegating was a good move for the Delices. “You can’t have but so much responsibility,” says Ronald. “If we took on all this responsibility, we wouldn’t be here now.” Now that the firm is growing, the brothers have hired a staff bookkeeper and are furthering their business education, learning as they go along.
Future plans to open Ron & Ron boutiques