The silver lining? Kerrigan, who had just given birth to her second child, was able to take an unscheduled year off. And because of smart predeal maneuvering, she also retained access to her equipment and her beloved workspace on the Bowery in New York. Another sign that the gods were on her side: Kerrigan’s original Bond Street shop was up for grabs. “I said to my husband, ‘We have to take the store back; it’s the only way.’” Since 2002 Kerrigan has taken out second mortgages on both of her houses to stave off the temptation to go the backer route again while she rebuilds Daryl K and gets Kerrigan, her new secondary line, up and running through her own store and other retailers.
Although he suffered a similar fate—the dissolution of his label—Adrover claims to have no regrets. “Pegasus always supported me,” he says. “I had the chance to improve quality and construction, and the ability to work with factories around the world.
Maybe they pushed retail too quickly, but it’s all part of learning.”
While the 2008 versions of Kerrigan and Adrover may be able to circumvent some of the problems that surfaced with those financial alliances, any fledgling designer with aspirations of growing beyond the mom-and-pop level will need help at some point. And the trick is not to wait too long. “Backing is a question of how rapidly you want to move ahead because, in theory, you can run a business without it if you do it very slowly and carefully,” says Betsy Pearce, a New York attorney who specializes in bringing designers together with outside investors. “At a certain volume, there’s no way to get around needing more people and expertise in different areas. And when a company waits until it’s at that point before seeking financing, it’s very vulnerable.”
Of course, that unfortunate scenario is exactly what unfolded for Kerrigan. But packing up her pincushion and calling it a day simply wasn’t an option. “Making clothes—it’s just in my blood,” she says. “I’m happy to prove to people that, yes, I can come back and have a really healthy, thriving business again. And it’s only going to get better as long as I keep working at it.”