Earnshaw's | Infants', Girls', Boys' Wear Review | 2010 • October
Tailored Turf: Infant and toddler designers prove refined baby wear can be comfortable and inviting; The Look - Painterly Effect: Watercolor prints transform apparel into museum-quality artwork; Family Affair: After years of building their brands, business owners grapple with how to bring a new generation into the fold.
ilar agreement with Gap. We protect our boutiques that way. These products are still high-end and the same price points. Would you say that, given your product selection, you were insulated from the economic fallout? DeNai: [Juvenile products] is an area where parents will spend money regardless of the economy. Since diaper bags are on the registry, a lot of our retailers commented that we helped them stay in business last year. They know it’s product they could keep on the ﬂoor and continue to sell. It may have been three or four people buying the bag as a group gift instead of each buying a separate gift, but it was product that people did continue to purchase. Braden: The last few years have been good for us. We haven’t gotten any push back on our pricing, but we’ve responded to the change in the market with lower price-point bags. We’re offering styles under $100—they typically run about $180 to $300. We’ve already sold out of our ﬁrst run. We’ve heard [retailers say], “If you have Petunia, you’ll pay your monthly rent.” DeNai: Unfortunately, we have seen the fallout of the economy. We did lose a lot of our near-and-dear retailers. It’s been hard to see a lot of people we really care about close their doors. Braden: We’ve seen a lot of new stores open, though. We have a great sales team and reps who’ve been working nonstop for two years. DeNai: They’ve been making lots of in-store visits to ﬁnd out how we can help with merchandising or provide more sales tools. Have those visits steered your designs or business decisions? DeNai: It’s so important to see how your product is merchandised and the real estate you have. You can help your retailers merchandise better, teach them how best to represent the brand and give selling tools to the salespeople. We’ll go in [undercover] and pretend to be looking for a diaper bag to see how they sell the product and what they’re lacking. Retailers are so appreciative when you take the time to visit them. They’re honored that you’re in their store. Braden: It’s also about listening to them. They may have a great product idea or suggestions for improvement. It’s good for everybody because you can get honest feedback. What are the most successful stores doing right? DeNai: It comes down to how they merchandise their products. In a successful store, items are well coordinated, well organized, and the salesperson has product knowledge and is willing to walk you through the product. Braden: The most successful retailers are the ones that commit to certain brands. I’m always disappointed when I go into a store and see they’ve tried to hit on too many things. In my opinion, they’re rolling the dice. The ones that commit shelf space and buy deeply with us buy consistently with us. DeNai: So many retailers have said that to us. They used to carry three of our bags and now they carry eight to 10 with more in the backroom, and their sales have quadrupled because they are representing the collection more. And when one item sells out, they’re able to put another one on the ﬂoor. I know for retailers it’s a ﬁnancial commitment, but by committing, their sales have increased. What has been the best part about growing this business together? DeNai: I love that it’s something that we’re growing together with a bunch of other exciting and talented people. Plus, growing our family with the company has been a real beneﬁt. We intentionally waited to have kids because the business was a child for us. Braden: This wouldn’t be as exciting if either of us had it by ourselves, but to share it is fun. •