Monday, October 27, 2008

LIMELIGHT LTD, the fashion industry’s go-to “gift with purchase” company

Text & Images, Vivian G. Kelly
[From left to right, Molly Sutter, Kristine Panariello]

Have you ever heard of “gift with purchase”? Ever wondered who’s behind that, who creates those gifts? You may think that they’re a division of Estee Lauder or Chanel.

Think again. Those appealing gifts [like the shiny black carry-all you’ll actually USE] were conceived by dynamo MOLLY SUTTER.
Molly is the CEO of the 3-woman firm that develops corporate gifts from concept to completion, for high profile clients at Conde Nast, the Mandarin Oriental spa and Dalton Cosmetics on QVC. This FIT grad started out as an assistant accessories buyer at Saks and switched over to sales administration supervising a dept of 40 at Clinique under Shelley Grossman. After a detour designing the tombstones at the now defunct Investment Firm, DLJ [Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette], she went to Lancome where she began her gift with purchase career. After 5 years, she left, to head up and buy Limelight Ltd.

“Less is more, and it’s about designing a special item”.

All of Limelight’s business is by referrals from satisfied clients such as W Magazine, and other Conde Nast Publications, Jemma Kidd and Estee Lauder.
Molly is talented and like many successful people, uncompromising. If she believes that a client’s idea could be better, she tells them, AND offers a better, alternative one. More often than not the client listens, adopts Molly’s idea, and ends up looking good with her boss at Vogue, et al.
Molly does it all with Kristine Panariello’s help. Krisitine came to Molly 2 years ago as a client. They found that they’re “think alike partners”, and are now inseparable. Maintains Molly, “Once you’ve found someone who thinks just as you do, you don’t let go.”
Kristine is an aesthetician by trade and assists Molly with the development of the cosmetic and has successfully broadened the scope of the company’s business to the spa field. Some clients in this area include the Mandarin Oriental, and the Mirval.


The Bravo TV show, “Shear Genius” came to Molly for a promotional gift set box. While speaking, Molly glanced at her desk, saw her scissors and suggested that they do a wonderful pair of sterling antique looking scissors, an idea which dovetailed nicely with the show's theme. While you can certainly use the scissors she conceptualized, they’re pretty enough to display on your desk. Best of all, they make the kind of gift that the recipient will like, use, and keep.
Molly gets a lot of inspiration from Elle Décor, for the beautiful textiles, and is a firm believer that the fashion business is a part of the larger lifestyle business.
Inspiration also requires research and a lot of travel. She averages over a dozen trips to China and Europe per year looking for the perfect materials to work with and trends to bring back to her clients. While she’s there, she checks in with her factories. Says Molly, “I’m nothing without my factories, I want them to know that I love and support them.”

To read more about Limelight Ltd.,