Friday, September 01, 2006

A Brilliant Twist On A Selfstorage Idea

Kim Akhtar Story

Kim Akhtar was a typical new yorker with a typical problem--too little closet space for all her clothing. "I've lived in New York for 20 years," she says. "You're always complaining about space." She knew her predicament was not unique--plenty of professionals and fashionistas have more designer clothes than closet space. Tired of the massive effort it took each year to switch her closet from spring to winter and store her off-season clothes with the local dry cleaner, Akhtar wanted a readily accessible place where she could store her things and keep them in good condition.

Out of that desire, Garde Robe was born. Akhtar, invested nearly $200,000 of her own money into the idea, rented a Tribeca loft and began to market her clothing storage service. For $225 per month, Garde Robe will photograph, catalog and store clothing and accessories for clients ranging from professionals and socialites to celebrities. A few clients even live outside New York but require storage in New York City for business trips. Akhtar modeled her service after that of a concierge--available 24/7, clothes are delivered to a client's home or hotel room in Manhattan in 90 minutes or less.

In addition to clothing storage, Akhtar provides each of her 35 clients with a leather-bound catalog of his or her wardrobe as well as a secure online clothing portfolio. Akhtar completes the service with wardrobe and image consulting as well as seamstress and repair services. "We don't like to market it as a luxury," says Akhtar, whose sales are currently in the six figures. "For New Yorkers, it's a practical service. We're offering them extra space in their own homes."

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