René Ruiz, maker of luxurious dresses, looks to expand
Step into René Ruiz’s Coral Gables store and you enter an elegant world of colorful gowns and cocktail dresses draped in silks and chiffons, floating on racks atop the shiny marble floors.
Then, like passing through the looking glass, walk to the back of the retail space, into the designer’s atelier — a two-story warren of fabric rolls, sewing machines and cutting tables, where assistants stitch and trim, turning Ruiz’s visions into reality.
More than two decades after he started fashioning women’s dresses, business is booming. Ruiz’s firm has expanded into a multimillion-dollar design house, with 35 employees crafting and selling glamorous collections that grace runways during Fashion Weeks in New York and Paris.
Thanks to the expansion — spearheaded by partner Brad Rosenblatt — Ruiz now sells his dresses at 85 high-end specialty boutiques in the United States, Canada, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait. This year, for the first time, that revenue is expected to surpass sales at the flagship store.
The economic downturn provided the stimulus.
“Rene always wanted it,” said Rosenblatt, who has been the company’s president for eight years. “Business was good, but when the economy gets shaky, people have to reinvent themselves, and you think about other ways to generate income. So that was the catalyst, and we thought, ‘We have to do it now.’ ”