Local clothing company signs distribution deal with Nordstrom – Asbarez.com


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ARKA founders (left to right) Sevan Aliksanian, Burag Celikian and Shant Der Ashodian showcase their t-shirt designs at their showroom in the Fashion District in downtown LA (phoro by Karen M. Guzelian )

BY KAREN M. GUZELIAN
Asbarez Special

A few years after its creation, ARKA Clothing launched its collection in the Nordstrom online store. Last month, a variety of ARKA products began to be marketed in Nordstrom stores.

Since 2009, ARKA has distributed its collection of t-shirts and accessories to several retailers in the United States and in more than 11 countries around the world, Nordstrom being its most valuable contract to date.

“It still hasn’t started because it’s still very fresh,” ARKA co-founder Sevan Aliksanian said of the company’s biggest partnership. “I’m saying in a few months or so it’s going to start to leak.”

ARKA co-founders Shant Der Ashodian, Burag Celikian and Aliksanian have worked to expand the business by networking and working with major retailers.

According to Der Ashodian, the January ENK NYC and February ENK Vegas fashion shows brought success to ARKA and nearly 75 additional accounts. Thanks to the ENK lounges, the company has also been able to land some of the most prestigious accounts in the country: Nordstrom, Fred Segal (Santa Monica), Akira (Chicago), MGM Resorts (Las Vegas), Boogie’s (Aspen), Bloomingdale’s (Dubai) , Simon’s (Canada) and Karmaloop.com.

Each co-founder has changed their lifestyle to focus on their new business. Aliksanian has a background in computer engineering, while Celikian and Der Ashodian both worked in the real state before ARKA. They each had a stable career, but then gave it all up to pursue their passion and focus on expanding ARKA.

The fashion district of downtown LA is home to the showroom of the booming clothing company ARKA (Photo by Karen M. Guzelian)

“We pretty much gave up on it,” said Der Ashodian. “Everything was fine for us, but it’s our passion.

According to Celikian, ARKA’s concept of creation was driven by Aliksanian’s aversion to the Ed Hardy infatuation. “[Sevan] was like, ‘We have to make a line of t-shirts,’ ”he explained. “We started this as a need of society. He thinks we are doing the public a service.

ARKA’s t-shirt designs are based on the vision of the founders of the city of LA. “If you look at us you’ll think we’re really random,” Celikian said. “If you look at what [L.A. is] right now we’re like a melting pot… Our line kind of reflects that.

The company’s target demographic is men aged 22 to 30 who still want to wear graphic t-shirts. On a few occasions, they have attracted buyers who do not correspond to the target population, but who nevertheless appreciate ARKA’s creations. “[We] making 16-18 year olds like our stuff too. We have 50 year old moms who buy our stuff for themselves, ”said Der Ashodian.

ARKA got its decisive approval when it first attended ENK Las Vegas in February 2011, which enabled it to send its products to Bloomingdales in Dubai.

“It’s cool to see the reaction from people now that we’re distributed… It’s nice to see the appreciation,” Celikian said.

The family also played a big role in the life of the founders, as they received great support from all family members. “They saw the potential and ‘believed’ in us more than anyone. One of the key success factors for ARKA has become the support we have received from our parents, ”explained Der Ashodian.

Determination, family support and the bond between three best friends has helped ARKA succeed as it has. The founders put their best efforts into the business and were willing to do the “dirty work” of marketing ARKA’s unique t-shirts, without letting money get in the way of their friendship.

“[People] usually tell you not to go into business with your friends, but in our case it works, ”Aliksanian said. “If the money gets between us, the case is settled. I will keep the friendship.

In July, ARKA will participate in the Nataline Sarkisyan Foundation fashion show which will be held on the roof of the Mercedes-Benz dealership in Calabasas. To see the latest ARKA Clothing designs, visit ARKAClothing.com.

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Gladys T. Hensley