Monday, August 29, 2011

Irene or How Many Firsts Can We Have in One Week?

The earthquake at the beginning of the week seemed to distract all of us from the looming threat of Hurricane Irene.  But on Friday, it was time to start making plans to prepare Zoe to meet Irene.  We didn't particularly WANT to meet her but it didn't look like we would have a choice.

Knowing that the women who own The Christmas Attic across the street have been here for years, I called them to see if they had any suggestions for my hurricane plan.  Cheri, one of the co-owners, said I should be in good shape being up high off the ground and that they had not had any issues with flying debris.  She did say the biggest problem may be the loss of power since our power is controlled at a box even closer to the river than we are!

After our conversation, I started making a list of things "to do"(an impromptu disaster recovery plan).  I decided to take my paper files home on Friday night.  I also decided to pick up some sandbags for Zoe's door at the corner of King and Lee (more to come on that little event).  I would move the mannequins and the clothing from the front third of the store out of harms way.  I would unplug my Point of Sale computer, box it and move it to the back of the store off the ground.  And I would bring some towels in to put against the inside of the door.

After I closed on Friday, I pulled the car up and loaded the paper files and the cardboard boxes to take home for recycling.  I then made my way to King and Lee for my 5 sandbags (an earlier truck that had pulled up there had been completely emptied).  As you know from my earlier post on the "sandbag carry", it is not my forte.  And it was hot and humid.  So, of course, Channel 7 news comes up to interview me.  Here I am looking like a hot mess and they are asking me questions.  I have not been brave enough to ever look to see if I made it to the news.  This might be one of those times that any publicity is NOT good publicity!

Saturday morning dawned grey and gloomy.  I had Jim unload the sandbags and put them just inside the door at the store.  I didn't want them outside getting wet (before it was necessary) because I knew it would be even more difficult to lift them!  Before time for the store to open, it had already started to rain.

Although the streets were quiet the first part of the morning, more and more people started to get out as the day went on.  Some were curious, some were already getting cabin fever, and some wanted to get that last Starbucks before they had to settle in for the storm!  I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who stopped in to see me (and my lovely neighborhood customers who stopped in to make sure I was going to be ok).  

One neighborhood family stopped in to look around and the youngest daughter (at first) was very angry that her mother and older sister were trying things on.  Then she found the toy basket and drew this lovely picture for me.

When it came time to leave, they had to drag her out of the store.  And I got a nice picture out of it!

Later in the afternoon, the rain started to come down harder and the winds picked up.  At 4:40 pm when I saw that the Transportation and Environmental Services people blocking off Prince Street, I knew it was probably time to call it a day.  For the first time since I opened the store, I closed the store early (at 5 pm, rather than 6 pm).  After taking care of all of the disaster recovery items mentioned above, I called Jim to pick me up.  I moved the sandbags outside the door, set the store alarm, locked up and carefully piled my sandbags in front of the door (not so much from a worry of flooding but instead to keep water from blowing under the door).

Obviously, Saturday night into Sunday, I was anxious.  I felt good that I had done the right things but it was completely out of my hands at that point.  I was eager to get to the store Sunday to see if everything was ok.  The early reports coming from the Alexandria Government and Journalists that I follow on Twitter sounded very positive.  I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived at the store to have no damage AND to have power!  It didn't take long to get things put back together again and I was ready to open for business as usual.  

So many people (close by and far away) called and emailed to check on me and Zoe.  It was so greatly appreciated and I was so happy to have good news to share!  So thankful that Irene was a non-event for Zoe.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Learning About Public Relations

In late March, a professor in the Fashion Retail Management department of the Art Institute contacted me to see if Zoe was a potential candidate for a case study for her Public Relations Class.  As part of the case study, the students would learn about the boutique and write a Public Relations Strategy based on their knowledge of the industry as well as the goals and objectives for Zoe.

Of course, I said "Yes!"  I always love the opportunity to work with students and to get some new ideas and fresh takes from people who aren't so close to the subject!  Today was my first meeting with the students.

The professor had come in to meet me not long after Zoe opened and has stopped in the store over the ensuing months to check in with me.  Last week, she met with me to provide me with the types of information to prepare for the meeting with the students.  She asked me to be prepared to:

- Talk through a timeline of the store from inception to today
- Provide a brief history of how I got here
- Review "Who Shops Here" from a demographic standpoint
- Outline some key objectives for the students - what do I want to get out of it?
- Determine a budget
- Provide details on past promotions (and the success/failure of those promotions)
- Identify any Future Plans for Promotions (including those already scheduled)

In preparing a handout for the students, most of the bullet points were easy - I could probably repeat them in my sleep!  The most instructive part (for me) was the list of my past promotions.  It really helped me think through every thing that I've done with regard to the store.  As a small business owner, you NEVER feel like you've done enough but it gave me some real perspective.  It is easy to prepare monthly and quarterly looks at things like sales and financials but it has emphasized for me how important it is to also focus on this area as well from a summary standpoint.

I will get to hear the presentations on the Public Relations Ideas from the students on September 16th!  I can't wait!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Earthquake - To Blog or Not To Blog?

I've debated on whether or not to write about the earthquake here in Virginia and Zoe's experience.  My first inclination was "No, everything is fine - is there really anything to write about?"  But then I thought, it was a "first" so it probably deserves its own entry.

Tuesday was an amazingly gorgeous day for August.  Sunny, low 80s, light breeze.  If I closed my eyes, I could pretend I was in my beloved San Diego.  (Maybe that was foreshadowing - that California thinking!)     I had just received a new box of Fall items from Chan Luu and had started to unpack and hang them up.  When things started to shake, at first I thought they might be doing some work in my landlord's garage (which is below me) or a large construction vehicle was coming down the street.  I quickly realized neither was the case!

I have no idea how I kept my wits about me but as soon as I realized it was an earthquake, I walked over and stood in Zoe's doorway (to the outside).  I watched as the earth shook the water out of the doggie bowls that I have outside for my neighborhood friends.  Soon, fire alarms were going off in buildings around me (not sure if the shaking caused them to go off or if people pulled them to get people out).  All I know is that my heart was pounding and it took a long time for it to stop!

I stepped outside to talk with people from my landlord's office for a bit and then came back in to see if I had any issues at Zoe.  My visual inspection revealed no cracks and the only thing that had fallen was a picture frame from my desk in Zoe's office.  Other stores did not fare as well.  The Christmas Attic across the street had some items fall onto the floor and break.

I had some customers come in not long after it was over who wanted something to remember the earthquake by so they bought some jewelry!  Others who came in later in the day commented that some stores had closed but I was not aware of any in my general vicinity.  The streets were definitely quieter afterward, even from a car/bike traffic standpoint.

All is well that ends well but I hope to not go through anything like that again!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

My Little Corner of the World

I've had several posts in the past where I've talked about all that goes on in Zoe's little corner of the world.  Several noteworthy things have happened in the last week that just had to go into the blog.

First, I recently celebrated a birthday that put me into a different age demographic (no, I'm not quite to AARP status yet!)  I fear that something in that change of year switched on the "curmudgeon" gene inside me.  So please take my reaction to the next two events with that in mind.

One weekday afternoon, a family (mother, father, high school/college age son and daughter) ran up on the patio.  Yelling loudly, they proceeded to throw themselves into "planking" positions all over the patio and take pictures.  Not only were they being horribly obnoxious (I wondered if anyone in my landlord's office space was in a meeting or on a conference call) but I just don't get the planking fad.  If anyone does, please enlighten me.  They finally ran out of places to "plank" and left.

On a Thursday afternoon, I saw a young man and woman leaning against the wall on the Union Street level of the patio.  I was occupied at the time but out of the corner of my eye, I saw something blue go flying into the landscaping on the patio.  After they left, I walked out to see what it was.  It was a blue party cup smelling VERY strongly of bourbon.  Really?  At 2:30 in the afternoon?  This is Union Street, not Bourbon Street!

OK, enough with the curmudgeon comments.  Earlier this week, I saw groups of people walking around with papers in their hands and manilla folders.  Not really an unusual sight as there is a Trustees office just down the street that handles a lot of bankruptcies.  But instead of serious looks on their faces, they looked like they were having fun.  A group came up to Zoe and told me they were on a Scavenger Hunt and needed a "rubbing" of the letter "Q" for their hunt.  The wanted the "Q" from Zoe's sign on the patio but said it was up too high!  I said "I have a step ladder in the back!"  Problem solved!  They got their rubbing of a "Q"!  While the one person was taking care of this, the others explained to me what they were doing.  The USS Abraham Lincoln (an Aircraft carrier) is being moved from the West Coast to the East Coast for refurbishment.  They were all part of the team involved in this (a combination of Navy and civilians) and the scavenger hunt was a team building exercise!  Fun for Zoe to be involved in a small way!

And I've had two lovely visits from friends this week!  Long time friend Irina stopped in to see me on Thursday and even got me one of my beloved Starbucks iced teas!  It was so nice to catch up with her.  And my friend/mentor Greer, owner of Duo in Charlottesville (and now Harrisonburg - more on that in a future blog) stopped by to see the store for the first time!  Hopefully I've made her proud!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Starting Your Own Business

Recently, the New York Times had a great article about "real life" experiences of people starting their own businesses.  I had posted a link to the article on my personal Facebook page but wanted to go more in-depth in the discussion on Zoe's blog.

I really felt a great kinship with the people interviewed in this article.  In some ways, my experiences have mirrored theirs and in others I've had an easier time in the transition.  One big plus for me was not working my old job right up to the point where I was ready to open Zoe.  When I left the job in May 2010, I knew what I wanted to do but took my time putting the pieces in place.  So I did have the opportunity to get some rest and have a normal home life prior to diving headfirst into devoting most of my time to the business.

Like one of the women in the article, I do find that I continue to work on my day off.  Whether it is a trip (like my recent ones to NYC and Richmond), making phone calls, sending emails, updating the website and/or social media, or coming in to the store to do much needed filing, there really isn't a day when I'm not doing something related to the store.

I could also sympathize with the woman who took Cold-Eze when she felt ill. When I first opened the store in April, I was hit with a horrible bout of allergies!  I started taking Claritin regularly because I didn't want to find myself in the position of having to close the store!  I'm hoping to get to the point this Fall where I can hire someone to cover Mondays and also assist on other days.  That way, if something did happen to me, I could continue to keep the store open.

I laughed about the man who was not only the boss but everything else!  That is truly the experience.  In the course of a single morning, I wear my janitor hat, my accounting hat, my buyer hat, my technology hat, and my customer relations hat!

The demands of manual labor are also a realistic part of the job.  When I first opened the store, I would go to bed before 9 pm at night, I was so tired.  I spend a good part of the day on my feet.  And a week like last week, where I am receiving lots of Fall clothes, unpacking, steaming, remerchandising, and preparing for the Sidewalk Sale, I find especially tiring.

Oh yes, and then there is the uncertainty!  You really never know how many people are going to come into the store on a given day.  And if any of them are going to be interested in what you have to offer.  The most I can say about the uncertainty is that I am certain of it!

Vacation is another area that I knew would go by the wayside when I opened the business.  But this is where it is different.  Previously, I wanted to go on vacation to get away from work (although I typically did some work while I was gone, I got better about it in more recent years - those of you who are reading  and who KNOW may beg to differ but I was better than I used to be!)  Now, I don't so much need a vacation as I think it would be nice just to rest a little bit.

And that's a good segue to my point of sharing the article.  Although I'd like to have a vacation, I love what I do so much that I don't need one (if that makes sense).  And to a person, pretty much everyone interviewed in the article loves what they do, despite the sacrifices they have to make on a daily basis.  What really stands out for me is how much I love to talk about what I do.  I NEVER wanted to talk about my previous line of work, even at home or with my family.  Now you can't shut me up!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sidewalk Sale

On Saturday, August 13th, Old Town Alexandria Businesses participated in the Second Annual Sidewalk Sale.  If you ever want to guarantee rain, schedule a sidewalk sale.  But more on that in a moment.

I will start out by saying that I LOVE the "H Rack" that I purchased in Richmond last Monday.  On Friday evening, not long before it was time to close, I started assembling it.  All of the pieces and parts were there and everything fit together with little effort.  With the help of my trusty allen wrench, it was assembled in no time flat!  It also stood up to the many (and sometimes strong) breezes on Saturday.  And, when not loaded with clothing, it was still light enough for me to move in and out by myself.  Finally, it was easy to disassemble it on Sunday evening (for storage).

It was such a busy week, with lots of new Fall arrivals coming in and preparing the remaining spring/summer items for the Sidewalk Sale.  As I've gotten to know my customers, I've been able to tell when they really like an item but wish it was at a different price.  Or, they like other items and have to limit themselves to a budget.  As I started the markdowns for the Sidewalk Sale, I contacted customers if an item they loved was going to be included on the sale.  Many of them came in to purchase those items!  I was happy to have the sale and they were happy to get the item they wanted.  A win for everyone!

In addition to getting the "H Rack", I had also purchased sets of those round size dividers (XS - L and 2 - 12).   When I merchandise the store, I put items together by style and color and have the sizes in order.  But to have the sale items like that wouldn't work.  It needed to be easy for people to see what was available in their size.  Having those size dividers was so helpful!

Saturday morning arrived with partly cloudy skies and the threat of thunderstorms.  My hope was that it would wait until after 6 pm to storm.  No such luck.  Not long after I put the clothes out at 10, it started to rain.  As I was rushing to get the clothes inside before they got wet, I fell down.  I can happily report that no clothing got wet or dirty but my legs took a beating.  I think I'll be wearing long pants this week!

Once that shower passed, I dried off the rack and the size dividers and put the clothes out again.  All was well until around 12:30, when the bottom dropped out again.  Clothes back inside.  Wait for torrential rains to stop.  Repeat process.  One more hard rain came at around 4:30 and I just left the clothes inside from that point on.  I definitely got my exercise!

The day was a success sales-wise and probably would have been even better had the weather been more cooperative.  The Irish Festival was taking place in the park behind my landlord's building and that also brought a number of people into Zoe's area.  All in all (despite my leg wounds) a good day.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Special Orders

In the ideal world, I would always order exactly the right number of the right sizes and right colors and styles.  (And the right people would always walk through the door!)  But, in the real world that doesn't always happen.

In the four months that Zoe has been open, I've started to build on the number of special orders that I place for my customers.  Believe it or not, I had included a line item for special orders in my business plan!  The special orders can come from a variety of circumstances.  Sometimes, a customer will want a different color  than I stock in the store.  Sometimes, they want a different size.  Sometimes they aren't sure what they want and ask me to help them meet a particular need through one of my designers.

I really enjoy being able to provide my customers with a special service like this.  Recently, one customer tried on an item and discovered she needed the next largest size.  When I told her I'd be happy to check availability from my supplier and order it for her, she was delighted.  She commented "I've never even thought of asking someone to do that for me!"

Sometimes, I'm able to provide the customer with information immediately - when I know what the supplier has available, the cost and lead times.  Other times, I will email them with color swatches and options and we will determine what meets their needs.  It's always easier when something is a "staple" that the company makes consistently or it is a recently arrived item (for example, it is easy for me to order more Fall items now).

Next up:  Sidewalk Sale!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Road Trip to Richmond

Zoe gets to go on a road trip two Mondays in a row!  First to NYC last Monday and to Richmond today.

I've actually needed to go to Richmond for several weeks but could not seem to make the trip fit into my Monday off schedule.  Last summer, I made the trip to Richmond to check out the Store Fixture Supercenter.   The trip was more of a reconnaissance mission at the time to help me familiarize myself with the selection and availability of items needed for a retail store.  (My friend/mentor Greer of Duo had suggested I go there).   This trip, however, had a greater purpose.

Alexandria is preparing to have their Second Annual Sidewalk Sale on Saturday, August 13th.  Zoe is very excited to participate!  But, the temporary racks that I use when I have just unpacked clothes and to stage them for steaming were NOT going to hold up for an event like this.  As you remember from earlier posts, the wind on the terrace has sent those racks tumbling.  I've been using them in the store to temporarily segregate the sale items from the Fall selections.

I needed something affordable, sturdy, adjustable, and that I could put together and take apart (and store) easily.  I started researching my options a few weeks ago and settled on the "H-rack".

I can hang clothes on both sides of it and it is substantial enough to handle all but the most violent gusts of wind.  Plus, after Saturday I can take it down and put it away until I need it again.

I got to Richmond shortly after 9 am and found the rack in the warehouse.  The office manager had the warehouse team pull one for me but it came in a large, flat box.  Knowing it wouldn't fit in my car that way, I asked if they would open the box and we could load the pieces individually.  Problem solved - the rack fit in my car with room to spare.  A trip worth taking!  On an interesting note, they are now giving a 2% discount if you pay in cash.  Had I known, I would have made sure I had enough money with me.   The laws have changed so that businesses can do this but they and one locally owned restaurant are the only two places I've seen put it into practice so far.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Traveling Saleswoman

The Traveling Saleswoman would be Maye, who represents the Alice & Trixie line for Leib Associates based in Atlanta.  Maye came to Zoe on Saturday morning prior to opening to show me the Resort and Early Spring lines for Alice & Trixie.

I like Maye for many reasons.  I first met her in NY at Coterie in February.  I had stopped by the Alice & Trixie booth because a really gorgeous cape caught my eye.  I did not have time to sit for a showing of their line at that time but Maye remembered me and the name of the store and found me via Zoe's website about two weeks later.  She asked if she could visit me to show me their Fall line during her upcoming road trip.

As much as I wanted to see the line, things were getting very busy during March.  On the day she could come, not only was the store not ready for visitors but I also had a doctor's appointment that I really needed to keep (that had gotten canceled due to my Verizon fun earlier in the month).  I told Maye that if she could come to my house and be there at 8 am, I could see her.  Not only did she do it but she was timely and respectful of my time as well.  And their clothes were gorgeous.  I placed an order for Fall.

When Maye called me about a week before I was to make this most recent NY trip, she said that by stopping by to see me on this road trip, she could save me time in NY.  And it turned out to be the perfect solution as I had a very full day last Monday.  Once again, she was right on time at the store and we were done just before I needed to open for the day.  She is a great "no pressure" sales associate who knows her line well and lets it "speak" for itself.  She also (based on my orders and comments) is really starting to understand my customer and won't spend a lot of time on pieces that don't work for Alexandria.  I appreciate her so much for making my life a little easier.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Virginia Sales Tax Holiday

Between August 5th and 7th, the Commonwealth of Virginia provides a Sales Tax Holiday on School Supplies and Clothing.  Since this was Zoe's first experience with this process, we had a lot of upfront work to do to prepare for the event.

The first was to get a very good understanding of exactly what did and did not qualify for the sales tax exemption.  We are VERY appreciative of the help provided by my State Senator's office (Senator George Barker).  They provided a very clear and comprehensive list of all of the items and dollar amounts that qualify for this program!  Some very interesting items DO qualify - things like bathing suits and legwarmers!  (we don't sell either at Zoe).

Next up was going through the store to determine all of the specific items stocked at Zoe that do qualify.  A number of our summer sale items as well as many of our Fall tops are qualified under this program as well as some scarves, belts, and undergarments.  Armed with that information, I then contacted my point of sale software company to determine the best way to update the system so that those items ring up with no tax added.  They quickly provided me a solution which I have tested to my satisfaction.  Now all that is left is to update the system this evening after I close and we will be ready for the event!

I will be very curious to see if the sales tax holiday does bring people shopping in the boutique setting as well as the normal back to school setting such as Staples, Macy's, Kohl's, Target, and Walmart.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Zoe to the Rescue

I try to segment my pre-opening tasks at Zoe so that I have enough time to accomplish everything and not feel rushed.  By the time I get to the 9:30 - 10:00 timeframe, I am frequently in and out of the office in the back and the storefront.  I'm normally cleaning, preparing the point of sale system, and bringing out anything I need to work at the desk during the day.

Yesterday, I stepped out of the office at around 9:50 and saw a woman with a small child had just walked up to the door.  I went to the door and invited them in.  The woman asked me where my sale items were located and I showed her the appropriate racks.  She selected a summer Velvet dress and took it into the dressing room while I offered her daughter the toy basket (the See N' Say continues to be a big hit).

The woman emerged from the dressing room and I asked her how the dress had worked for her.  She said it worked perfectly and she'd like to wear it out of the store.  It turned out that her daughter had had an upset stomach just before they had come to the store and had gotten the dress her mother was wearing messed up!  I was glad we could help resolve the fashion part of the situation!

I'm always excited when Zoe gets positive press!  Yesterday, Old Town Alexandria Patch blogger Tara wrote about her recent experience at Zoe and two other Old Town boutiques during an afternoon of shopping.  You can read her blog here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

NY Market - August Visit

Yesterday was one of my quick turnaround trips to NY for ENK Shows Accessories Circuit/Intermezzo Collections Market at the Javits Convention Center.  This particular show is focused on Resort Wear and Early Spring as well as some accessories for the holiday period.  It was the smallest of the shows I have attended thus far in NY, with all of the vendors located in the Convention Center (rather than split between multiple locations such as Pier 92/94).

Next month is the BIG spring show - Coterie.  I'm very excited to attend because it will signal the completion of Zoe's first "cycle" through the shows.  My very first Spring show for Zoe was in October of 2010 at the Atlanta Market.  It is still a little hard to think that I'll still be receiving Fall merchandise at the time I am ready to start ordering for Spring.

I was on my usual 5:30 AM Amtrak NE Regional train out of Union Station.  Since I am always behind on my Sunday newspaper reading these days, it was the perfect opportunity to catch up on news.  I always grab a spot in the Cafe car (so as not to be too far from coffee) and spread out on one of the tables.  We arrived at Penn Station right on time and I took the slightly less than one mile walk to the Convention Center.  The streets were busy and energetic!

When I first arrived at the show, it was fairly quiet (it had just opened) but it was very busy later in the day.  My first stop with was Chan Luu to look at wrap bracelets for the holidays as well as a few additional ready to wear pieces.  Chan is doing a wonderful program as part of Breast Cancer Awareness in late September and October and Zoe will have the (very affordable) wrap bracelets in stock in support of that initiative.  Think Pink!

Next up was to catch up with my friend and handbag designer Alexandra Satine and take a look at the first releases for her new Spring line.  She has added new textures to her bags as well as an amazing red leather!

My first formal appointment of the morning was with BCBG MaxAzria.  While many of their clothes skew a bit younger than my target market, I was able to find a few pieces to add to the arriving fall collection.

From there, it was on to favorite Rebecca Taylor.  Their selections were lighter this time around due to the focus on Resort but I found some very nice pieces that should work well for the early Spring timeframe.  Noelle, my account executive, is one of my favorites - she is always very welcoming and accommodating.  When she is finished with the show, we are planning a Rebecca Taylor trunk show for Zoe in late August/early September.

Next up was an appointment with one of the new lines I'm adding this winter, Waverly Grey.  While the main focus was on Resort, I found one of best jackets I've seen in ages along with pants and a sweater.  Even more fun, I got to try the things on to better judge my sizing for the order!

That appointment went quickly and I had made a list of other lines I wanted to see if I had time.  The London based Issa was on the list.  I was VERY impressed with the styling, quality, print selection, and even price points of their Resort/Early Spring collection.  Starting in late December/early January, Zoe will be adding a few Issa pieces to the store!

My final show appointment was with everyone's favorite - Velvet!  Their selection was pared down a bit due to the focus on Resort/Early Spring but I did find some additional pieces to bring in during the November/December timeframe.

I have been considering adding Susana Monaco to the selection of items at the store.  Her figure flattering colors and styles would make a great addition to Zoe as well as the price points fall in line with where I'd like to take the store.  I had the opportunity to view a presentation of their Fall line as well as their Resort/early Spring line.  Although I did not place an order at the show, I am strongly considering adding a few key pieces.

For the first time, I also had an appointment with a designer at her showroom in the Fashion District.  The story of how we found each other is a fun one.  One day, a woman came into Zoe on her way back to her car from an appointment with her stylist at Windsor, the salon just down Union.  She was a really fun lady who has lived in Alexandria for a number of years.  She told me that she had a daughter who was a designer and that I may be interested in her clothing.  I took her daughter's card and later looked up her website.  Kathlin Argiro specializes in customized formalwear but also does a beautiful line of ready to wear wrap dresses.

Kathlin's showroom is located on the 14th floor of a building at 8th and 34th, so I headed there when I had finished at the show.  I had forgotten how tiny NYC elevators are!  But her showroom was in a gorgeous, light-filled airy space.  She was delightful, down to earth and very open.  And her designs are really, really lovely in person.  We had a great visit as she explained her concept and showed me different options as well as parts of the creativity process.  We have agreed to speak again next week to talk next steps.

I made it back to Penn Station with 20 minutes to spare prior to catching my train.  Definitely one of my most efficient, productive days!  Oh, and from a fashion standpoint, I dressed for comfort and style.  I wore a light brown 60s style pencil skirt (with a high waist), a dark brown tank decorated with wooden beads at the neckline (no need to wear a necklace), and my light brown bootie sandals.  It was probably "New York enough" for summer.

Next up:  Zoe to the rescue?