SMC Fashion Design & Merchandising Advisors

Lynn Girard

Lynn Girard, a Los Angeles native, moved to Paris after graduating with a degree in Graphic Design and French from UCLA. Lynn had worked for Chacock then Cacharel, in Paris; both of which were better-priced clothing companies. Cacharel asked her to transfer to the Los Angeles Showroom to oversee sales of their children’s line. Later she became responsible for Women’s and Children’s until they closed the showroom upon a licensing agreement with Federated Dept. Stores. At that time Lynn took over the showroom where she continued to represent Cacharel as well as other better sportswear lines. After a few years, she expanded to also open a Dallas showroom. Today Lynn represents six lines from her showrooms in the California Market Center and Dallas Market Center and sells to Nordstrom, Dillards and approximately 450 specialty stores across the country.

Uri Harkham

Uri Harkham founded Harkham Industries in Los Angeles, California in 1975. Today, Harkham Industries is recognized worldwide, as an apparel industry leader, in the design and manufacturing of sportswear, dresses, and shoes for the young contemporary, junior, missy, and girls markets. From his 125,000 square foot, Los Angeles based corporate headquarters, Uri Harkham employs over 400 people, who work in conjunction with his offices worldwide, to create and produce his firm's apparel product: Jonathan Martin - junior/young contemporary sportswear, dresses and outerwear; Jonathan Martin (girls 4-16) - sportswear, dresses and outerwear; Studio - missy career/casual sportswear and dresses; and Hype - a young designer collection of sportswear, dresses and shoes.

Kurt Kreiser

Evy of California, Inc., is a leading manufacturer of dresses and sports-wear for girls ages newborn through 12 years old. Evy distributes its products to major discount retailers throughout the U.S., including private label products for Wal-Mart, Kmart, JC Penney, Target, Sears and Kohl's Additionally, Evy sells under its own labels, including Evy, LA Touch, Venice Blvd., Brooke Lindsey, and First In-First Out.

Barbara Lesser

Barbara Lesser is a designer and owner of Barbara Lesser, a women’s better sportswear company created in 1991. Together with her husband, Mark Lesser, Barbara has built a widely distributed collection geared for the modern woman. Her informal, yet sophisticated designs feature silhouettes that flatter a variety of body types and are sold at better specialty stores throughout the United States and Canada. Lesser says lifestyle, as well as fashion trends and exciting colors, plays a large role in affecting her design decisions. Her loyal customer following resulted in her receiving the Dallas Designer of the Year award for dresses in 1997 and another nomination for sportswear in 2006.

Ilse Metchek

Ilse Metchek, the President of the California Fashion Association (CFA), created the organization in 1994, with assistance from the major financial and manufacturing participants of the region’s apparel industry. The CFA provides leaders of Southern California’s manufacturing and textile community with the opportunity to share information about the business of conducting business in the current global economy.

Prior to the formation of the CFA, Mrs. Metchek was Executive Director of the California Market Center (then called the California Mart), and before that, she was President of White Stag Inc., a division of Warnaco Industries. As a manufacturer, Metchek was Owner and President of Ilse M. Inc., which she purchased from the Anjac Corporation in 1984. Her career at Anjac began as the company’s designer in 1967; and seventeen years later, she owned the company!

Ms. Metchek was appointed to the U.S. Department of Commerce Exporters’ Textile Advisory Committee (ETAC) in 1998 and still serves in that capacity. Her public service includes participation on the Executive Board of the California Fashion Foundation, the Advisory Council of UCLA Extension, Board member of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation and the Vernon Chamber of Commerce.

As a member of the Board of Directors of the Fashion Industries Guild of Cedars Sinai Medical Center, she was honored as the Person of the Year in 2001.

Joe Rodriguez

Joseph (Joe) Rodriguez was raised in New York City and attended its public school grades 1 through 12. He won a full scholarship to Columbia College of Columbia University where he majored in Spanish. He has been part of the Los Angeles garment industry for over 40 years. He has a perspective from both the manufacturing and contracting sides.

For over 23 years he was Vice President of Human Resources for Tobias Kotzin Company, a vertical domestic garment manufacturer of men's pants and sportswear that had 1600 employees in Los Angeles. He managed numerous training and benefit programs.

He is and has been for the past 17 years Executive Director of Garment Contractors Association of Southern California, a nonprofit educational trade organization that consists of contractors, manufacturers and service providers. GCA, as his organization is popularly known, has a very widely used resource for domestic production sourcing with its website, found at It is free to the public and no username or password is required.

While favoring less regulation for what he believes is an overregulated industry, he is faithful to his human resources background by preaching full compliance with all existing labor and safety laws.

Emil Rutenberg

Emil Rutenberg designs are updated, classic clothes, where the success rests upon the choice of fabrics and the traditional approach. The distribution for the collection is nationwide and includes specialty stores.

Ram Sareen

Founder/Owner TukaTech Inc., City of Commerce, Calif.
India-born citizen of the world who has built his Commerce-based TukaTech into a significant player in the CAD/CAM hardware and software sectors over the past three years. Combines engineering background with apparel experience to accentuate the analytical skills that his "TukaTeam" brings to the production floor as a complement to product line and service. Aggressive gains have been fueled by sales support that highlights "no service contracts, free training, and turnkey commitment" on fully loaded systems. Former exec with Tolland, Conn.-based Gerber Technology, grew up in the trade, first in India, then Canada, before coming to California in the mid-1970s. Also counts stints at London Fog and several other sizable players on his resume. TukaTech expected to close in on $40 million in revenue for 2000 and plans to roll out as many as 250 TukaCenters over next 18 months. TukaCenters aim to provide training and data interchange services with open architecture-- essentially able to translate all operating systems. The idea is to put designers and manufacturers in closer touch with their cutting rooms, contractors and other service providers. Several TukaCenters already up and running; wider roll-out could mean new options for different segments of the industry and regions of the globe where technology lags, providing a bridge to comfort one and working demonstration of new efficiencies. Recent growth has some in industry circles buzzing that Sareen is considering the possibility of acquiring a significant stake in former employer Gerber, which is publicly traded. Sareen neither confirms nor denies the notion, but the presence of finance whiz Roger Williams on TukaTech board lends weight to the possibility. The Tuka in TukaTech comes from Hindi childhood nickname for wife Iva, a prominent attorney who's a bar member in three countries-- India, Canada and U.S.-- and who recently handled the settlement of a mass tort case on behalf of 10,000 South Bay residents related to explosion of a Texaco refinery in Wilmington, Calif. Iva more recently joined TukaTech amid sharp growth curve to oversee administration.

Joe Vecchiarelli

My background is very different from the standard person in the garment industry. I grew up following my dad at five years old as he made way through the garment manufactures sharpening their scissors. I always found this kind of work to be very intriguing. As I made my way through college I maintained my work in sharpening scissors for the apparel business. This was a great source of income for a college student, as opposed to working for a small salary elsewhere. I attended the University of Southern California and graduated in the business program in 1984. After graduating I saw an opportunity in the apparel business with no end. I continued to source information about the apparel business for ten years. We went from a single business doing very well at sixty thousand annual to four companies doing thirty-eight million in annual sales. I presently seat on the board of trustees at Los Angeles trade tech college as well as on the advisory board for fourteen different colleges around the country. I find that helping students gives me more pleasure in seeing their accomplishments, and growing to be business people in the apparel business.