2013-07-25 / Front Page

Designer relocates from New York City

By Ben Meiklejohn Staff Writer

Julian Schlaver and Roxi Suger are owners of Angelrox. The women’s apparel company is relocating from New York City to Biddeford, and a retail store will open at 25 Alfred St. by fall. (Ben Meiklejohn photo) Julian Schlaver and Roxi Suger are owners of Angelrox. The women’s apparel company is relocating from New York City to Biddeford, and a retail store will open at 25 Alfred St. by fall. (Ben Meiklejohn photo) BIDDEFORD – Angelrox, a woman’s apparel company based in New York is relocating to Biddeford. Owner and fashion designer Roxi Suger plans to open a design studio and retail store at 25 Alfred St. by fall. The company, which currently produces 20,000 to 30,000 pieces a year, could eventually employ up to a dozen people locally, Suger said.

Angelrox sells its collection wholesale to nearly 300 boutiques, mostly on the east coast, including Urban Outfitters and LeChateau. Suger also has clients in Tokyo, the Netherlands and Norway.

Suger, who owns Angelrox with her husband, Julian Schlaver, began her career at age 18, working with Vivienne Tams, a New York based fashion designer. Suger created her first collections in 1997 and opened a retail store in 1999. She also taught fashion industry design at Parsons School of Design in New York. Eventually, Suger found a demand for her wear in the wholesale market.

The business was up and down for the first eight years, Suger said, but when her customer base began to grow, it started to double every year.

“The business grew 600 percent in the last few years,” said Schlaver, who left his career in advertising to help his wife with the business when it began to take off.

The Angelrox collection appeals to women “in all stages of life, from little girls to great-grandmothers,” Suger said, with a focus on comfort and versatility.

Suger said the 30-piece wardrobe is a “collection of essential layers,” designed to be used in different combinations so that several looks can be achieved from just a few items.

“We dress a woman from the inside and out,” Suger said.

The Wrap, which is her bestselling article, is “super versatile” and can be used in a variety of ways, such as a shawl, vest, or skirt, Suger said. Products range from $10 to $220.

“It’s a more contemporary price, but attainable,” she said.

Schlaver said they first were exposed to the Biddeford community several years ago when his father retired to Maine, and moved to Saco. The couple has just moved to Biddeford.

“Biddeford is our new home and we adore and love it. Our business did so well in New York that we could go anywhere in the world, and we chose here,” Suger said.

“A lot of it was, that ultimately, Biddeford is on the rise. The creativity and vibe here gets us very excited,” she added.

When they first started to explore the possibility of relocating, Suger said Delilah Poupore, executive director of the Heart of Biddeford, was instrumental in helping to guide them through the process of opening a business in the city.

Schlaver said the strong history of the mills and textile industry was also an appealing factor.

“We’re hopeful there could be a skill set here, that we can tap into the previous history,” he said.

Angelrox contracts with three to six sewing professionals depending on demands, and uses two fabric production facilities: one in New York and one in Rhode Island. Schlaver said they hope to move their entire production to Biddeford within a few years, but for now will start out using their space for design, wholesale distribution and as a retail outlet.

The fabrics used are “eco-friendly sustainable stretch-knits designed for comfort and adjust-ability,” Suger said.

Some of the materials used to make the fabrics are bamboo, rayon and organic cotton, mostly sourced from the east coast.

Suger said they are “very selective” with the shops they sell to; they like to support small local businesses and avoid malls and big box stores.

“Most places are small mom and pop stores,” she said.

Schlaver said they tend to favor apparel boutiques and gift shops. Angelrox wear is currently sold in small stores in Cape Elizabeth, Kennebunk and Ogunquit.

Suger said it is important that they give something back to the community wherever they are. The company is a member of the Close Buy Catalog, which helps support local schools and nonprofits in New England, with 30 percent of the proceeds of sales made through the catalog.

The Angelrox logo, which is a cross with an elliptical orbit around it, is something that unifies the brand, Suger said.

“It is like science and religion, and finding the symmetry between extremes,” Schlaver said.

The couple have been told that the image looks very similar to an Asian character that stands for the center, or middle.

“It seemed to fit the dichotomy of life,” she said, “of finding your inner peace and joy and radiating it out.”

Although it was never meant to be religious in nature, Suger said her customers have told her they derive spiritual significance from the name and symbol.

“The real angels are the customers we sell to. They are the angels that tell us what we need to do,” she said.

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