Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Summer Market

I know that I've done a lot of posts about my trips to market to buy for Zoe.  It is always fascinating to me that no matter how many times I've gone, each time is a slightly different experience. 

I'll never get used to the fact that we buy so far in advance.  I had resort/early spring items arriving at Zoe this month that I ordered back in July!  So, with that knowledge, it makes sense that I would be buying Summer deliveries in early January.

The minor fashion seasons (Summer, Winter/Holiday, Resort/Early Spring) have smaller collections.  Usually, I can accomplish everything I hope to accomplish in one day.  But I always make a list prior to the show to make sure I know who I want to see and their booth locations.

That's a lot of people to try to visit in one day! (But don't you love my Oscar de la Renta notebook?)

When I asked the young lady who manages Zoe's social media if she'd like for me to Tweet about the experience throughout the day, she said "Yes!"  So I had to make sure I left time to Tweet!

I departed Union Station on a 5:25 am train for New York.  Union Station early on a Sunday morning is NOT the place to be.  Nothing is open and there are some questionable people hanging around.  I was happy to get ON the train.

The train ride was uneventful and we had a slightly early arrival in NYC!  After making sure my Mom and Jim knew that I arrived safely, I was off to catch a cab.  The fantastic thing was that the cab line early on Sunday morning was non-existent! 

Note that the ease of catching a cab does not always translate into a quality cab ride.  When I got in and told the driver my destination (Piers 92/94 please!) he asked "Is that East side or West side?"  Uh oh.  I gave him more precise cross streets and off we went.  In short order we arrived!

Because this was a smaller show, I only had one specific appointment and the rest of my designers had told me to drop in when I had the opportunity.  I started with accessories first and made a stop at San Diego based leatherworks Leatherock.  I love their belts!

Next up was one of my (and Zoe customer) favorites Chan Luu!  My one appointment of the day!  It is always such fun to work with Natasha to pick out great jewelry and scarves.

Quite often, the denim is also located in the same area as all of the accessories designers.  So of course I had to make a stop at Red Engine to visit sales rep Jenny!  I picked some colored denim for the store for Spring as well as stocked up on some new washes for some of our customer staples.

A quick glance at the time told me I had better get going on my apparel shopping!  So it was off to new store fave Amy Matto.

Loving the pinks in these dresses!

Beth Bowley also does some great prints in easy to wear shapes.  I have a hard time editing to exactly what I want to bring home for Zoe's customers!

When I tweeted about this dress, I got an immediate positive response!

Alice & Trixie does some fabulous Summer pieces.  I always have a hard time deciding what to buy!

Next it was off to one of our favorites - Velvet.  The Zoe Girls had given me assignments of pieces that they wanted me to look at during the market.  Velvet is one of the brands that provides access to their linesheet information prior to the show so that you can start "pre-shopping". 

So many style choices!

And color choices!  How do I decide??

Next door was Velvet's higher end brand Graham & Spencer.  Oh, how I love this brand.  I wanted one of everything!

Another personal favorite is Rebecca Taylor.  My rep, Noelle, has been my rep since my very first market in October 2010 in Atlanta.  It is always great to see her and she knows me and my store so well that she can help me start to edit as we are going through the pieces.

How cute are those little stripped peplum tops on the right?

And yes, I had to succumb to picking up a couple of pieces for myself....

Noelle was also so sweet to allow me to charge my iPhone in their booth.  All that Tweeting taking up battery power!  The funniest thing?  The most compliments I got all day were related to my iPhone cover (a pink Kate Spade cover).  Every time I lifted it up to take a picture, the rep would comment on how they loved it!

Then it was off to Tracy Reese.  The rep there also has been with me since day one.  It is so wonderful when they understand my store and know the items NOT to show me!  My editing here was really tough - I loved everything!

Please note that any bias toward red and black was purely coincidental! (mostly)

Just prior to market, I had heard from a great sales rep for another line that she was leaving that line.  Imagine my delight when I ran into her in another booth!  While I don't carry this line in the store, I liked the design, function, and quality of this line.

And before I knew it, it was time to catch my train back to DC.  Not wanting to get caught in the "taxi shift change" that I experienced in August last year, I took the show shuttle bus back to Penn Station!

An uneventful train ride later, I was back in DC.  What a whirlwind!  Everyone always says "Oh, it must be such fun!"  I always tell them that it is one of the most fun parts of owning a store and one of the most stressful!  I always hope I've found the things my customers are going to LOVE! 

Next up:  A Customer Rewards Program

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Scout Guide Party

I promise that this is the last post from my catch-up from December.  And I realized that I've posted a bit out of order since there was just so much going on.  But I would be remiss if I didn't mention The Scout Guide Holiday Party.

If you have been a regular reader of the blog, you may remember how much I enjoyed my photo session for The Scout Guide last February.  The guides were published in late May/early June of last year and we've been sharing them with our customers since that time.

Recently, a new editor (relocated from The Scout Guide corporate offices in Charlottesville) took over The Scout Guide for our area and decided to hold a holiday party for current and potential new members of the Guide.  She held the party at my lovely down-the-street neighbor, Mystique Jewelers.

The party was set to start at 6 pm so Tara (Zoe's Assistant Manager) and I walked the block to Mystique immediately after closing the store.  Things were already in full swing with wine from Scout Guide store Unwined and catering from A Thyme and Place (how clever is that name?)

So many of us who are store owners are so busy with our businesses and life that we don't often get to visit with each other.  It was such fun to get to see my fellow Old Town Boutique District store owners Kelly (Bishop Boutique) and Liz (Mystique).

We were also encouraged to invite our customers!  I was so thrilled that Friends of Zoe Christina and Maggie also attended the event (Christina looks fabulous in the Rebecca Taylor top she purchased from Zoe that very day!)

Before the event ended that evening, they took a picture of all of the business owners in attendance that night!  Pretty exciting to be associated with such a great group of people!

They had beautiful SWAG bags for all of the attendees - each one had treats from the store owners as well as all the Virginia-based Scout Guides!  It was a very fun evening and was a great example of the enthusiasm that the editor is placing on The Guide!  Looking forward to Volume 2!

Next Up:  Summer Market

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Hayfield Fashion Show

Word gets around.  Especially if someone has a good experience or a really bad experience.  Fortunately, Zoe's involvement in the Hayfield High School Fashion Show in December was born from a good experience by Edison High School earlier in the year!

On a field trip this fall, the Fashion Marketing teachers from Edison and Hayfield were talking about Hayfield's Winter Fashion Show.  The teacher from Edison shared the good experience they had working with Zoe for their Spring Fashion Show.  I was delighted to help Hayfield High School in the same way.  Both schools are not far from my home and I always love being involved in my community.

The Hayfield team came to Zoe a couple of days in advance to select clothing and perform the fittings.  Janice worked with them that afternoon and raved about how polite and well-behaved the students were during their time at Zoe.  All total, we sent 18 pieces of clothing and 7 accessories with them!

The day of the fashion show was a busy, intense day for me.  It is always important for me to attend events where Zoe's clothing is on display but I felt especially tired on this day.  As I stood in line to get into the auditorium for the show, I looked around me and thought "What on earth is a 40-something woman doing at a high school fashion show?"  But I quickly remembered it was because Zoe was involved!

I tried to get a seat close to the stage so that I could take pictures!  The students had a slideshow projected on the stage as we waited for the event to begin.

Their theme was "Falling Into Winter" and the show was made up of 4 acts as they transitioned from the fall to winter clothing with changing colors and fabric weights.  In addition to Zoe, the students would also be modeling clothing from Men's Wearhouse (for the young men in the show) and Select Seconds, the thrift shop associated with Inova Mt. Vernon Hospital.

Once the show started, I was not sorry at all that I had made the time to attend!  The young ladies looked stunning in Zoe's clothing and strutted with runway with just the right amount of sass, style, and attitude!  I felt my grin getting bigger with each model who emerged from the wings!

Even more impressive was how they had combined the Thrift Shop items with Zoe's pieces.  The looks were seamless and they never appeared mismatched or forced.  The saddest note?  That the lighting (and my iPhone camera) did not combine well for good pictures.

The best ones I could get were from long distances (even though I was seated in the second row) and just don't do the girls (or the outfits) proper justice.

After the show, I made sure to introduce myself to the teacher and let her know how much I enjoyed it and what a good job they had done with the whole production.  She was charming and you could tell she really appreciated Zoe's willingness to work with them.

And the next day, all of the items were returned without a single issue.  If only all relationships could be like this one!  We actually ended up getting an extra scarf in the return and when I contacted the teacher to let her know, she told me that the girls were still talking about the store!  Those comments can make you glow for hours!

This is one forty-something who isn't at all sorry she spent her Wednesday evening before Christmas at a High School Fashion Show!

Next Up:  The Scout Guide Party

Saturday, January 12, 2013

It Must Be The Month of Jewelry

It seems like so many of my December catch-up posts are all about jewelry!  And it is no surprise as we have great jewelry pieces at Zoe AND jewelry is a very popular gift for the holidays!

As I have posted before, every trunk show is different.  We kicked off a trunk show with Cayetano Legacy Collection on December 15th that was unique.  Rather than having the pieces for a day or a weekend, we would have them for 3 weeks! 

But let's back up - how did we get here (to quote David Byrne)?  In November, Zoe was contacted via Twitter by the local Cayetano rep to ask if we would be interested in a trunk show.  We met with the rep, Lauren, one Sunday afternoon at Zoe to see the pretty pieces and hear more about the line.  This wasn't a line we had carried previously at Zoe so we wanted to see if it would be a fit for our customer.  One look told us it would be a great offering for the holidays!

Lauren arranged to bring the pieces to Zoe on December 15th and set up a beautiful display on our round table.

She really brought some gorgeous, statement-type necklaces.  And they were reasonably priced!  Another bonus!  She also left us with some beautiful bags for the jewelry as well as a candle (that we gave away during a Facebook trivia giveaway - more on that in a future blog post!)

One of the things that made this trunk show unique was that we kept the pieces for 3 weeks.  It gave people lots of opportunity during the holiday season to see the items, rather than having them have to come out on a a single day.  For those who did come on the 15th, we had Baked by Melissa mini-cupcakes as well as our favorite prosecco (no cork this time - remember Fashion's Night Out)

We all loved the pieces and many of our customers visiting at the time did too!  Lauren came to collect the remaining pieces on January 6th.  What do you think?  Should we carry Cayetano year-round?

Next up:  Hayfield Fashion Show

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Visit from Katie Bartels

As you can imagine, I find lines (or they find me) for Zoe in myriad ways!  In May of last year, I wrote about a site that connects buyers with designers (JOOR).  In late May/early June, I got a request on the site to connect with a jewelry designer named Katie Bartels.  When you get a request, you can look at the offerings of the designer, the price points (both wholesale and retail) and can link directly to their website to learn more about them and their designers.  The site is used by large, well-established designers (like Tracy Reese and Rebecca Taylor) as well as small, independent designers.

I took a look at Katie's designs and her website.  I loved her creative use of color and different materials as well as her beautiful pictures and detailed descriptions of the composition of each piece.  I also liked her passion for "giving back" and her history of leaving the corporate world to start her own business.  We traded some emails but before I made a purchase, I wanted to speak with her on the phone.  It all goes back to relationships and if I feel a connection with this person who will be doing business with Zoe.

We had a lovely phone conversation early one morning and our business relationship was born!  I placed an order within the week.  And Katie has been nothing less than fantastic to work with!  I have had two instances where I had an item in store, it got purchased by someone and then someone else wanted it too!  She has twice drop shipped items to my customers on my behalf.  And the coach's wives at the University of Georgia LOVE her Janna earrings!

Katie was headed to DC when Superstorm Sandy hit our region and New York City (where she lives).  We had hoped to meet in person during her visit that week but with train travel between our cities canceled, we had to put it off.

When Katie was able to reschedule for early December, I couldn't wait to have her visit Zoe!  She and her friend stopped by to see us one December afternoon.  She is just what you would imagine a jewelry designer to be - fun and fashionable.  And one thing we know about Katie - she loves sparkle!  She came in to the store and showed me and Tara the sparkle tape she had just purchased from Paper Source on King Street!  (It was such fun to later see that show up on her Facebook page and her blog!)  And we were loving her ring selection for the day!

Katie has also brought me a couple of pieces I had ordered (now that is delivery service!!!)  Tara took a picture of me perusing our new items.

Katie stayed to visit with us and tell us tales of NYC and her past (India, Korea) and upcoming (Iceland) travels.  I told her that I live vicariously through her!  She is delightful in every way and I love carrying her beautiful pieces at Zoe!

She does a great blog too - you can follow her at Passports and Pearls!  I do!

Next up:  It Must Be the Month of Jewelry

Saturday, January 5, 2013

ADMK Trunk Show

It is always so much fun to host a designer in store at Zoe!  Especially when it is a personal favorite and customer favorite like ADMK Jewelry!  We had been anticipating this trunk show for quite some time - probably even since the one we had with Meagan last year!

It is always so much fun to have a trunk show, especially because it allows you to offer your customers so many pieces that you couldn't normally have in store!  We had agreed to have Meagan in from 12 - 5 pm on Saturday, December 8th and she was set up and ready to go right on time!

As she was coming in and out of Zoe performing her set up, we had a visit from all of these adorable French Bulldogs!  Meagan and Tara had to give them a warm Zoe greeting!

It was a really nice December day so we were able to have the door open for much of the day.  We had announced the trunk show via our email list, Facebook, and Twitter as well as on our website, the ACVA Events page and the Patch Event page.  So many of Zoe's customers love ADMK so they enjoyed getting to shop her great selection.  I'd have to say about 50% were gifts and 50% were gifts for themselves!!

I had Tara and Alexandra pick out  a pair of earrings that I could buy as my "every day" pair for work.  They did an excellent job and I truly have been wearing them EVERY DAY!  Although this isn't what I bought, don't you love this pairing?

People kept coming in to look at the ADMK line so Meagan did not get to pack up at 5 pm as planned.  But before we let her leave, we asked her if we could interview her and record a short video!

What a fun day!  We got to see lots of our regular customers AND host a talented designer like Meagan!

Next Up:  Meeting Katie Bartels

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend and Dressing a Model

The Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend in Alexandria is a huge event!  It occurs on the first weekend of December every year and is coordinated by the talented members of the Junior Friends of the Campagna Center.  I wrote about the event last year on the blog.  Disclosure - I am a member of the Junior Friends.  But like Groucho Marx, I am always suspect of any organization that would have me as a member! :)

I was a little anxious about being out of town over that weekend but knew that Zoe was in good hands with Tara and Alexandra.  A week or two earlier, I had been asked (through a large group email) if the store would be willing to provide clothing for models who would be having their pictures taken during the weekend for publicity shots for the Alexandria Convention and Visitors Bureau.  I hadn't heard anything and assumed that they had gone in a different direction.  Just before the weekend was upon us, I got an email saying that the stylist for the shoot would like to work with Zoe!

Tara does an excellent job of helping people find clothing that works for them.  So I knew I could tell her the plan and leave it in her capable hands.  The stylist and model arrived on Saturday morning as planned and Tara helped them selected the perfect outfit.

I LOVE this outfit - some of my favorite designers are represented - the Velvet vest, the Rebecca Taylor top, and the Red Engine jeans complete a great look! 

It is such a passion of mine that people support the locally owned stores of Old Town. So whenever I have a chance to support local advertising or promotions initiatives, I love to do it.  And I must confess, I love seeing Zoe's clothing "in print"! 

Next Up:  Our Second Annual ADMK Trunk Show

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Best Of

Who doesn't want to be the best at what they do?  I know you've seen various "Best Of" lists in magazines, newspapers, and blogs.  Everything from beaches to cities to restaurants to colleges to denim is reviewed and compiled into a list of some kind.

I knew that the Washingtonian Magazine was compiling a "Best of Old Town" feature for their December edition.  Several of us in the Boutique District went in on an advertisement for the magazine but we did not know which businesses would be featured in the article.  Of course, I hoped that Zoe would be included!

Jim and I were headed to Georgia on November 30th to attend the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.  Once we got through security and to our gate that evening at National Airport, we had the following conversation:

Me:  Hey, I think I'm going to walk over to that newsstand.
Jim: OK
Me:  I want to see if they have the new edition of the Washingtonian.  There is supposed to be a "Best of Old Town" section in it.
Jim: That's cool - is Zoe in there?
Me:  I don't know.  If she isn't, I'm not buying it and I'm going to be mad.

A few minutes elapse...

Me (returning to gate area):  I need some money.  Zoe is in it!

Yes, I was very happy to find Zoe listed among the Best of Old Town and to see the pretty advertisement that had been designed for those of us who had participated in the OTBD ad.  You can read the full article here.

So what happens when you are featured in a "Best Of" list?  Well, first off, you feel pretty fantastic!  Second, you immediately start getting emails and faxes from a company trying to sell you a plaque that you can hang in your store showing that you are part of a "Best Of" list.  (If you were ever in Who's Who, you know the drill - you get named to Who's Who and then the company starts sending your parents multiple letters about buying the Who's Who book.  Which of course they are going to do.  They sent letters when I was that age.  Now they probably send emails.  And the book is probably on a CD.)

While I am truly honored to have Zoe on the "Best Of" list in the Washingtonian, I've been suspect of other "Best Of" lists.  The store had been open for about 6 months last year when another publication came out with a "Best Of" edition.  Zoe was not on the list.  Shortly after I had reviewed the magazine and discovered this, one of the magazine's ad salespeople called for the umpteenth time, trying to sell me advertising.  Although I know that the sales and editorial staffs are separate, I asked the ad salesperson about the criteria for being included and if their editorial staff even knew about Zoe.  I also asked that if they had come into the store and they had decided that we were not appropriate for the list, I'd like to know more about how I could improve Zoe and make the store eligible for future lists.  The snarky reply was "Oh, we know who you are.  And we can't tell you if we've been in the store or not." 

Sigh.  Don't ever make a mother angry.  Because that is exactly what that reply did to me.  My not so nice comment was "I know that you know who I am when you want to sell me something!"  Despite the conversation not ending very positively, I felt a little better when I took a closer look at the stores listed in the article.  In a couple of cases, they had stores listed that had been closed - one for at least 3 months prior to publication of the article.  I didn't feel quite so bad that Zoe wasn't included, especially since it didn't appear that they had gone out of their way to do any homework whatsoever for the list.

That bad experience behind me, it was fantastic to be part of the Washingtonian's Best Of list!  Nothing makes me happier than seeing my "daughter's" name in print!

Next Up: Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend and Dressing a Model