YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Designer Paul Frank to Open First Store

November 08, 2000|LESLIE EARNEST

Designer Paul Frank, whose monkey-faced clothes and accessories have caught on with young shoppers and the whimsically inclined, is set to launch a new venture--his first store.

Costa Mesa-based Paul Frank Industries Inc. is opening the store in San Francisco for the simplest of reasons.

"It's our No. 1 market," said Ryan Heuser, president and co-founder. San Franciscans understand Paul Frank's wit, "cuteness" and sarcasm, he said.

Next year, the company plans to open Paul Frank stores in London and Tokyo. Orange County and Los Angeles stores will come later, Heuser said.

The business, which was launched in 1995 and has been selling products in specialty stores such as Beach Access and Pacific Sunwear of California, is growing rapidly. Sales are expected to hit $10 million this year, twice last year's revenue, the company said.

From his first vinyl wallets, Frank has expanded the line to include women's sportswear, pajamas, accessories and watches. The clothes sell for $20 to more than $100. The company also sells housewares and furniture, including $200 stools and $4,000 couches. And now it's moving into Internet cartoons, which will feature the characters that appear on Paul Frank products, including Julius the Monkey, Clancy the Giraffe and Ellie the Elephant.

The company, which has 33 employees whose average age is 25, began dabbling in retail last year, opening a store inside its headquarters to test product concepts. In designing the San Francisco store, scheduled to open Dec. 2, Frank said he drew on the "aesthetic influence" of Disneyland, which he is crazy about and visits a couple times a month.

"Everything's just right at Disneyland, the way they paint the rails, the way they sweep the grounds every night," said Frank, 33. "It's all like a giant point of purchase. There's a big mountain, a big rocket, big teacups. But you get to ride on those things."

Frank may put a big monkey at the front of his new store. Why not? he asks.

"It's my store, I can do whatever I want."

Leslie Earnest covers retail businesses for The Times. She can be reached at (714) 966-7832 and at

Los Angeles Times Articles