Karen Erickson Is Addicted to Start-ups

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Karen Erickson Photo: Melissa Hom

Karen Erickson is one of those entrepreneurial sorts that makes the rest of us look like slackers. A fashion-industry insider since 1986, she founded Erickson Beamon jewelry, went on to launch Showroom Seven, and created fashion-PR company Seventh House with her daughter, Mandie. The lady who admits she has an addiction to start-ups takes a breather to talk to us about her latest venture, new retail concept Beyond 7, which mixes fashion-forward designers, including Elise Overland and Tony Cohen, with vintage guitars and psychic-reading appointments.

You’ve been successful in setting up an internationally recognized jewelry line and a PR company. What was your inspiration for this new retail concept, Beyond 7?
I have been in the wholesale business since 1986 and over time have come to think that it is the buyers who keep the public from the best fashion. You visit the best department stores and it’s always the same thing – Vince and Theory as contemporary wear and Lanvin as designer wear. Beyond 7 was a chance to let the customer see what we believe in!

You even stock vintage guitars and furniture, and appointments are available for psychic readings — how did you decide on that?
I am a huge astrology fan and thought it could be a lure. I have been collecting furniture for years — mainly from Michigan — so it just seemed an easy addition.

Weren’t you hesitant to launch it in this current economic climate?
People always need clothes.

What sort of woman shops at Beyond 7?
Quite simply anyone who's fabulous.

Who are your favorite designers?
All the designers we represent in Showroom Seven. The list is endless, from Issa to Benjamin Cho to Orla Kiely.

What was the first designer item you ever bought?
A pair of Terry De Havilland metallic platforms — it all came back to me when we started working with Havilland during their relaunch about five years ago.

What are your future plans?
We are starting up a financial division, which will be available to help designers with the business side of things, since in these times money is severely encroaching upon fashion and art.

What is it about start-ups?
An addiction to always moving on to the next thing!

Have you had a mentor?
Donna Karan.

Best advice ever given?
Always analyze first who your good customers are and where the business is happening.

Is there anything you are particularly lusting after right now?
For me, fashion is very theoretical. I don’t think to myself, ‘I want that.’ It’s more about creating a story.

Fill in the gap: I can't live without ________.
Kabbalah. I am a student of the Kabbalah Centre. It’s a life-changing experience and commitment.