Earnshaw's Magazine | January/February 2024

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CELEBRATING 10 YEARS Unique & Artistic Clothing for the imaginative child


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and mom.

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GET TO KNOW US What began for Kelli Murray Larson in the winter of 2014 as a passion project, inspired by her own children, Rylee and Cru, is now an established children’s clothing brand sold in 800+ retail boutiques and in 25+ countries. Within the Rylee + Cru Collective, Kelli has successfully launched three brands- Rylee + Cru, Quincy Mae, and Noralee, with the desire to build brands that meet children at every stage of life. Rylee + Cru merges art and imagination, offering unique clothing for the modern child and mom. Each collection is built on high-quality basics with soft and well-loved qualities matched with beautiful muted tones and timeless traits.

VISIT US ryleeandcru.com


Rylee + Cru merges art and

With a focus on modern

Noralee is a collection of

Play offers quality apparel

imagination, offering unique

natural baby basics, each

vintage-inspired specialty

designed for high performance

and artistic clothing for the

Quincy Mae piece is made

pieces, perfect for life’s most

and everyday life.

modern child.

with organic materials.

memorable moments.

@ r y l e e a n d c r u | @ q u i n c y m a e | @ s h o p _ n o r a l e e | c o nt a c t u s : s a l e @ r y l e e a n d c r u . c o m

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THE FALL DROP Curated looks in neutrals, texture and creative construction


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CONTENTS January/February 2024

PAGE 18 Lizette Chin Senior Vice President Noelle Heffernan Vice President & Publisher Michele Silver Editor in Chief Nancy Campbell Trevett McCandliss Creative Directors Rosemary O’Connell Art Director EDITORIAL Mariah Walker Fashion Director


Sabrina Shapiro Social Media Manager PRODUCTION

10 Ask the Architect Rosa Lee, owner of The Urban Toddler, has built a destination store in Ann Arbor, MI. 12 Tween Queen There wasn’t always age-appropriate apparel for sizes 7 to 14. Meet a veteran who played a major role in this fashion revolution: Ilene Oren. 14 The Dressing Disruptor Magnetic Me has revolutionized the snug fit and chemical-free fabric needed for government sleepwear regulations. 16 Latin Flair Meets European Execution Distributor Global Moda Brands delivers a trifecta of South American fashion. 18 Generation Next Designers play with unexpected construction, texture and color, showcased by our young models.


D E PA RT M E N T S 4 Editor’s Note 6 Seen and Heard 8 On Trend 39 & 40 Final Cut

Laurie Guptill Production Manager Mike Hoff Webmaster Bruce Sprague Circulation Director CORPORATE Greg Dutter Editorial Director

Cover: Paloma is wearing a sweatshirt by Puma and pants by A076. This page: Aika is wearing a sweater by MarMar, vest by Scotch & Soda, pants by Mini a Ture, shoes by Florsheim. Photography by Zoe Adlersberg/ See Management; styling by Mariah Walker/ Art Department. Special thanks to GenerationModel Management, State Management and Teri B Talent & Model Management.

Carroll Dowden Chairman Mark Dowden President & CEO CONTACT INFO Sales/Editorial Offices One Maynard Drive Park Ridge, NJ 07656 Tel: (201) 571-2244

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TRVL DESIGN Americas Mart Showrooms: Bldg 2 -810A | Bldg 3 13-353A *NEW Playtime NYC: Booth D09 trvldesign.com | @trvldesign

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DO YOU HAVE THE NEXT BIG IDEA? WE ALL KNOW that fashion is cyclical and every two decades or so, trends gets reinvented and rolled out to a new generation. Neon colors? The fanny pack? Rhinestone belts? Yup, we’ve seen 80s, 90s and Y2K fashion come back. With the need to label looks and put them into a marketing box, we’ve had moments for Coastal Grandma and Barbiecore, among many others. I had no idea that some of my old clothing was Y2K fashion until my 15-year-old daughter educated me and promptly declared ownership of my low-rise jeans and Juicy Couture hoodies. I’m also happy that we’re reducing our carbon footprint, in some small way. I get a kick out of recycled fashion, but I also really love and admire innovation. Something revolutionary, disruptive, creative, a void-filler just when we thought there were no more voids to fill. This issue, we have a number of stories that revolve around a unique approach or product. Our retail profile on The Urban Toddler out of Ann Arbor, MI., takes us on a journey with Rosa Lee, an architect with zero retail experience who built a destination store that’s been in business for 18 years. Our designer chat with Lauren Levy of Magnetic Me describes how the company has revolutionized the snug fit and chemical-free fabric needed for government sleepwear regulations—following their disruption to dressing babies, toddlers and children with mobility issues or handicaps; with nursing wear added to their offerings, Magnetic Me is making a design difference in multiple categories. Our spectacular fashion is also the epitome of innovative—a goal for which we always strive. “Generation Next” showcases some of the most bold, beautiful and special looks of Fall 2024, styled and photographed in a sophisticated yet kid-friendly way. We’ve covered many bases in this


story: outerwear, textures, funky construction, fun color and cool prints, plaids and stripes—all mixed and matched in unexpected ways. Many of our models fit into size 7 to 14, and that range, the tween, is a category that perhaps you’ve taken for granted. You see, tween wasn’t always a thing. For this little history lesson, we need to go back to 1999 when I met Ilene Oren. In 1999, I was the Editor in Chief of Earnshaw’s (under the original ownership), looking to create new and engaging editorial. I decided to run a series of roundtable discussions with top manufacturing executives and experienced sales reps, and each month I would focus on a different segment. One month I chose tween, which was a burgeoning category and one of the participants was Oren. She was instrumental in helping to develop the tween category and repped Tractr jeans. What was different about tween is that the clothing wasn’t being designed up from little girl, it was being designed down from juniors. I distinctly remember seeing the Tractr brand in the slew of independent stores I used to regularly visit and the new section of “7 to 14 Girls” that began appearing in every major department store. In 2021 when I rejoined Earnshaw’s, Oren and I reconnected and we talked about that tween roundtable. So when I was planning my editorial for this issue’s tween coverage, the person who immediately came to mind was Oren. I am especially pleased to present a deep dive into this industry veteran’s 30-plus-year career, her many words of wisdom and advice and the incredible passion, professionalism and positive energy she puts into her work. I hope you enjoy reading the Q&A, “Tween Queen,” as much as I did collaborating with my subject and creating the story. We look forward to seeing many of you in person at New York’s I Love Playtime/Kid’s Hub in February. We can’t wait to discover what next big—or little—creative ideas are coming. Michele Silver Editor-In-Chief

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COZY COMFORT FOR GROWNUPS UNLOCKED PAIGELAUREN HAS ANSWERED the call to all those parents who wanted the brand’s buttery-soft eco-fleece that until now, has only come in kids’ sizes. Say hello to PaigeLauren’s Family Loungewear, which marries comfort with sustainability. Whether it’s a movie night in or a leisurely weekend morning, family loungewear is the snuggly gift that keeps on giving.

PaigeLauren Gerber Childrenswear

GROOVY VIBES ONLY WITH GERBER FROM DRESSERS AND rompers to short sets and swimwear, Gerber Childrenswear rolls out its beach-inspired SS’24 collection that’s all about fun in the sun. For sizes 0 to 3 mos to 5T, the highlights include cotton gauze and the color clay for sweet floral dresses, rompers and two-piece short sets as well as adorable turtle-themed prints. This collection is brimming with options galore for sibling matching. Gerber prioritizes fashion and comfort but always puts safety first; all items come Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex so parents don’t have to worry about harmful substances in baby’s wardrobe.


American Toy Manfacturer Kids Preferred


AMERICAN TOY MANUFACTURER Kids Preferred rolls out multiple product categories featuring Universal Products & Experiences with its ‘Welcome to the Universe Baby!’ collection. The new line offers gender-neutral infant and toddler playthings featuring DreamWorks Animation’s Shrek, How To Train Your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar as well as Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment’s Back To The Future and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Categories include plush, blankets, teethers, playbook sets and non-electronic learning toys.

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ON TREND Tiny Tribe Rylee + Cru

Angel Dear

Andy and Evan Bellabu Bear Tiny Whale

Fixoni Wee Ones

Fall Fit Check Infant/toddler looks embrace soft neutrals while bigger kids stand out in statement outerwear, playful prints and funky footwear.


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ON TREND Marc Fisher Kids


Boboli Old Soles

Town Hall Outdoor Co.

Baby Deer

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Rosa Lee built The Urban Toddler out of her need for community connection and today, it stands 18 years strong. BY


Rosa Lee


Inside the Bird & Bean store


FIRST-TIME MOM knows alltoo-well the feelings of loneliness. She might seek out a new-mother support group or attend mommyand-me classes to start to create her village. But what she typically doesn’t do—especially with zero retail experience—is open a children’s boutique. Not unless she’s Rosa Lee. Lee, born and raised in Ann Arbor, MI, has a master’s in architecture, an MBA as well as a career in acting and a strong tennis game. But after she gave birth to her first child in 2006, Lee experienced some difficult feelings that took her by surprise and had her yearning for something. “I was lost, disconnected and isolated,” I needed connection with a community,” she recalls. Lee also wasn’t finding the type of baby stores that had the more intimate experience she was looking for. She wanted to develop a neighborhood gathering spot where customers could both enjoy curated shopping with concierge-like service. “When I created My Urban Toddler, it gave me the ability to connect with other families and ultimately with myself.” >32

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newborn to 5T

Gerber Childrenswear, NY Showroom . 1370 Broadway, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10015

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Q&A TWEEN QUEEN Exclusively focused on sizes 7 to 14, New York-based sales rep Ilene Oren is the ultimate career specialist for the kid who’s between little and big.

Tractr Jeans

MORE THAN 30 YEARS AGO, Ilene Oren was working in the junior market and recognized an issue in childrenswear. Lines were sized from 2 to 14, but she thought to herself, “What 10 year old wants to dress like her 4 year old sister?” Oren went directly to some of the manufacturers with whom she had relationships and asked them to design for 7 to 14; her direction was specific—she wanted them to “take down” from Young Contemporary rather than “take up” from little girl. Oren was one of the first—if not the first—to recognize the void in the styles for this age range and serve as a catalyst in the creation of the category. Oren runs her eponymous sales rep business, Ilene Oren & Company, and has a staff of five professionals who are as equally passionate and committed to the selling of all things tween. The company carries denim, sportwear, special occasion, separates, athleisure, graphic tees, and novel accessories. In 2012, Oren was named “The Dean of Tween” in this magazine and frankly, she still is. Please enjoy this conversation with my colleague, friend and industry veteran. Earnshaw’s: What’s your background and how exactly did you get into the tween market? Ilene Oren: My tween background actually started with my first job in the Junior market, which we now call the Young Contemporary market. I was privileged to work for a talented designer and outstanding merchandiser, Jean Wallrapp, who took me under her wing and taught >36


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Playwear from Magnetic Me


Magnetic Me has made changing clothes child’s play while revolutionizing the snug fit and chemical-free fabric needed for government sleepwear regulations. A MAGNET CHANGED the game. Magnetic fasteners for the multiple changes that a newborn needs every day meant faster dressing, less fussy babies and calmer first-time parents. Replacing Velcro, snaps and buttons with magnets for sleepwear and playwear opened up a world of possibility—and business. Since the inception of Magnetic Me in 2008, co-owners Lauren Levy and Lawrence Scheer have attracted top-notch design talent to their company. Earnshaw’s spoke to Levy about the proprietary RightFit fabric, their dedication to sustainability, and their expanded collections and new licensing deal for 2024. Hint: It’s the most magical place on Earth.


Earnshaw’s: How many people are on your design team? Lauren Levy: Magnetic Me has grown our magnetic-fastening technology into many new categories this year. We have increased to seven people on the design team and are proud of leveraging our New York City location to attract super stars. Our director of product is from Coach, our print designer came from Tommy Hilfiger and our kids’ designer came from Zara. As we expand into toddler and big kids’ playwear and pajamas, and men’s and women’s pajamas and loungewear, we are laser-focused on designing products that parents want to buy. Our team obsesses over high-end details, super soft fabrics, and designs that delight

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both kids and adults. Then we add our special sauce, which is providing thoughtful dressing solutions using our patented fasteners that make people’s lives easier. And on top of that, all our print designs are custom and bespoke for us. We are parents, too, so we design the types of clothing that our kids would wear and makes dressing easier for the entire family. Earnshaw’s: How is designing with a magnetic system different from traditional Velcro, snaps or buttons? Levy: Designing with magnets is much harder, more expensive and requires more thought, time, testing, innovation, ingenuity, and quality control. We spend a lot of time assessing styles where a magnet would significantly improve the functionality over snaps and buttons. We developed our proprietary SewSafe construction to ensure the extra quality control that we need. Earnshaw’s: What is RightFit? Levy: RightFit is our groundbreaking fabric that offers a roomy yet super soft design without the use of toxic flame retardants. From the time we started this business, we saw how frustrated parents were with the drastic sizing changes that happen when your baby grows out of their 6-9M size and into their 9-12M pajamas due to government sleepwear regulations. Parents don’t know that the tight fit laws exist or that they are based on size specs from decades ago. It’s difficult when they must choose between dressing their baby in an outfit that fits so tight in every dimension or one that is treated with cancer-causing flame retardants. I knew we could solve this issue and give parents a fabric that follows the law, is naturally flame resistant, gives them a relaxed fit and is still really soft and looks great. Earnshaw’s: With the cost of magnets being high, how do you keep your pricing from getting too high? Levy: Our team works diligently to create products with custom prints, thoughtful design, high quality manufacturing, and sustainable fabrics at a price point that is fair and reflective of the quality. We refuse to compromise on quality, design and safety Earnshaw’s: Your company has a major commitment to sustainability. Talk about all your efforts to be eco-conscious. Levy: Our commitment to sustainability resulted in the rise in popularity of viscose from bamboo. We did extensive research and found deeply concerning issues with the environmental impacts of using bamboo. These factors were troubling: the traceability of the natural material when ancient forests are

sometimes removed to plant more bamboo, the toxic way it’s often manufactured using chemical solvents that can’t be reused so it gets dumped into the water supply, and the impact of those solvents on factory workers’ reproductive health. The end-use fabric is also not as durable, it often pills and runs, and that has environmental impacts, too. As parents and business owners, bamboo wasn’t something we were comfortable using so we searched until we found Lenzing Modal. This is a comparably soft fabric that is fully traceable from seed to mill, and harvested and produced in the most sustainable and environmentally friendly way possible, with the highest durability for the end user. As we grew—and especially during the pandemic—we made an effort to go as eco-friendly as possible. We switched our cotton to fully certified organic, and our packaging, tags and labels are all reusable or made from recycled materials. Earnshaw’s: How would you describe the design aesthetic for the new collections? What’s new for 2024? Levy: I see Magnetic Me as if Kate Spade and Paul Smith had a grandchild, and that design concept guides our way. It’s a New York / London style that’s colorful, has a witty sense of humor, hidden details, and is able to evolve with trends. We are launching new licensed product with Disney that feature luxe designs to cater to toddler and big kids while giving a super high-end, boutique feeling. For pajamas, we are expanding our RightFit fabric to new body styles like girls’ nightgowns and our ‘Classic with a Twist’ pajamas in toddler and big kid sizes. Our new nursing line expands to streetwear, too. In terms of the vibe for 2024, Magnetic Me has always been about embracing color and we will continue to do that while serving the needs of different audiences like grandparents, gift givers and parents that prefer more subtle tones. Caption here Nursing shawl from Magnetic Me

Earnshaw’s: What’s been the best aspect of designing Magnetic Me? Levy: In 2023, we travelled the country visiting boutiques and talking to store owners and managers to hear what their customers are looking for from us and finding out more about their needs. We also saw how they merchandised their stores so we can serve them better. We learned so much and loved hearing what matters to them. Earnshaw’s: What advice do you have for other designers in childrenswear? Levy: To truly consider your environmental impact on the world when you are choosing your materials. You can still make a buck by sourcing fabrics that are made responsibly and can leave the world to our kids with no adverse impact. It benefits all of us and our families and we owe it to them.

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LATIN FLAIR MEETS EUROPEAN EXECUTION As the partner of South America’s leading childrenswear supplier, Kyly Group, distributor Global Moda Brands delivers a trifecta of fashion.

Kyly from Kyly Group and Global Moda Brands

IT TAKES THE RIGHT combination of apparel know-how and relationship building to succeed in importing brands. One such company that’s been opening more North American doors every year is Global Moda Brands (GMB), the distributor of Brazilian collections Kyly, Milon and Nanai, which fall under the umbrella of Kyly Group. Led by CEO Alessandro Eichstaedt, Kyly Group brands have had a strong presence in Europe and Latin America, which combined have more than 10,000 accounts. Business Development Sales Executive Fernanda Leal, who has been with GMB for two and a half years, and brings more than 25 years of experience in kids’ retail and wholesale in both Brazil and the U.S. “We are working hard to expand our clients base in the multi-brand channel across the U.S. and Canada,” Leal says. In North America, we are in more than 400 boutiques, and our objective is to grow the business to 800 stores by the end of 2025.” One way in which GMB and Kyly hope to achieve that is through the NuORDER global B2B commerce platform, for a more buyer friendly and efficient experience. “The verticalization of our manufacturing process is one of our strengths, since Kyly Group doesn’t depend on third parties. We are


proud of our Brazilian cotton, our products being designed and made in Brazil being all brands sustainable,” Leal states. “The company has Fio Puro spinning mill, considered one of the most modern spinning mills in Latin America. From cotton flock to yarn, and up to final distribution, all manufacturing stages are carried out internally, ensuring higher quality and control in the processes.” The Kyly, Milon and Nanai brands all come in a wide range of sizes and each have a distinct point of view. Kyly, for sizes newborn through 18 years old, celebrates the energy and creativity of a child’s freedom of movement and limitless imagination. Kyly brings the happiness of play in a colorful way. Milon, known for its exclusive fabrics and exquisite detailing, goes from newborn up to 14 years old and includes an Essentials and denim collection for girls and boys. Contemporary and spirited, Nanai is designed for girls for ages 1 to 16 who are full of personality and attitude. When it comes to considering new brands, Leal advises buyers to ask questions and touch the products. What she loves most about the industry is to “be able to positively impact so many businesses and families during such a precious time of their final client’s lives.”

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Saad is wearing a poncho by Molo. 19

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Dallas is wearing a side zip jacket by Mini a Ture, shirt underneath by Appaman, vest by MarMar, pants by Trussardi, shoes by Reima. Opposite: Briar is wearing a dress by Andy and Evan, pants by Appaman, shoes by Doc Martens, sling by Hugo, hat by Mini a Ture.


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Lennon is wearing a sweatshirt and pants by Harley, jacket by Scotch & Soda. Opposite: Eva is wearing a sweatshirt by Hugo, pants by Zadig, jacket by Puma.


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Faye is wearing a jacket by JBNY, pants by Molo, beanie and scarf by AO76. Opposite: Leila is wearing a jacket and vest by Twinset, pants by DKNY. 25

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Dallas is wearing a jumpsuit by Reima.Opposite: Aika is wearing a jacket by Boboli, earmuffs by Appaman.


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Lennon is wearing a dress and coat by Tutu du monde, shoes by Doc Martens. Opposite: Paloma is wearing a jacket by Little Creative Factory, vest by The Animals Observatory, pants by Levi’s.


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Faye is wearing a sweatshirt by Boss, pants by Karl Lagerfeld Kids, shoes by Doc Martens, beanie by Zadig & Voltaire. Opposite: Saad is wearing a jacket by A076, sweatshirt by The Animal Observatory, jeans by Levi’s. Photography by Zoe Adlersberg/ See Management; styling by Mariah Walker/Art Department. Special thanks to Generation Model Management, State Management and Teri B Talent & Model Management. 31

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continued from page 10 Lee already had a deep understanding of the local demographics. It also turned out that she had many of the knowledge-based building blocks for a retail store—and her fresh approach was a huge benefit. “Architecture is project-based and requires managing many aspects of a building project. I’m always looking for

“AT BABY SHOWERS, GIFTS FROM OUR STORE ARE ALWAYS THE WILD GIFT.” – R O SA L E E efficiency and best practices. My design background enables me to create environments, using the display work in furniture, so that each customer experiences a place of discovery—not just a grocery store layout of products.”

My Urban Toddler carries apparel, essentials, toys, gifts, books, and University of Michigan merch for ages newborn through 12. Top brands include Angel Dear, Cooper Pearl, Deux Par Deux, Hatley, Huggalugs, Little Me, Magnetic Me, Mayoral, Me and Henry, Petit Lem, and Tea Collection. Special events are sponsored throughout the year, and Lee knows how to lead the charge on these as well. “I use the analogy, ‘set the table, and then invite the guests.’ As an architect, I’m very good at setting the table, and as a businessperson, I’ve had to learn how to create in-store events that bring people to our physical location,” she says. “Our mission is to curate the finest children’s apparel and gifts, create a tactile environment for discovery while treating each customer like guests in our home. We offer a true in-person experience for meaningful purchases.” FACE TIME The shop has a comprehensive website and strong presence on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. In the past, Lee outsourced social media, but now she’s put herself at the helm and she’s grown to enjoy it. “I think the importance of having me as the face of the company connecting with our customers has been incredibly valuable. They know that experience that they have online is going to be the same once they see us in store! We post regularly and intentionally. Social media is the way that we connect with

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“Build it and they will come,” rang true for Rosa Lee’s first and enduring retail business.

future customers and educate them on what’s in style and what new products are available to help their daily schedules.” Social media also helps to get the word out about special events. “People are drawn to special occasions and celebrating milestones even more than ever. Having a world pandemic interrupt our lives, and show us that, at any moment, something can change, I feel that people are very purposeful and celebrating specific milestones, like the birth of a baby, a first birthday, holidays, etc. Our events are focused on gift giving, whether it’s a portrait session, working with clay for hand impressions, photos with Santa or the Easter Bunny, or Valentine’s Day being a time to celebrate love and kindness.” Lee is planning to host monthly events this year, including ice cream socials, gatherings with local daycares and preschools. While the store used to have a baby registry, it doesn’t get used as much as it used to—but this is more of a reflection on the type of merchandise that Lee carries. “I think that most customers come to our store for items that are special and functional. We’ve heard from customers that at baby showers, gifts from our store are always the wild gift.”

BEING PRESENT IS THE GIFT Almost two decades in business, Lee has learned a great deal, especially about overall buying habits: “I’ve learned that you need to be where the customer is. If some people prefer being an in-store shopping person, then you need to entice them to come in. If they’re online shoppers, constantly provide them information about the products you carry as well as your expertise in the type of products that you sell.” Another credo by which Lee operates is to be physically and mentally present in your business. She also advises the following: “Don’t be too forward-thinking so that you miss what’s happening right now. Don’t dwell in the past–move forward from mistakes and use them as opportunities to get better.” Lee adds, “The word ‘present’ also means gift, so providing a way to mentor the young staff to be the best that they can be providing gifts that give joy to other people is the best thing that I can do.” BE READY TO SHIFT The longevity of the store can be attributed to many factors, Lee says, including the connections that the store has made

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with the community and other small boutique owners, who face the same challenges and can share solutions. “I play a lot of tennis, and sometimes my analogies have to do with specific tennis skills. So, in this case I would refer to the split step, where you must be ready to change directions, and make decisions as they develop,” she says, adding that she is always “challenged by new concepts, strengthened by defeats and encouraged by victories.” One instance of a potential defeat that became a victory was the pandemic and the shift to e-commerce and other necessary business strategies such as social media, staff engagement and more staff training. Lee also became a mentor to other female business owners in other industries by co-hosting a podcast. Forming these bonds was critical, and everyone was able to support each other—a piece of advice she strongly recommends. “If you’re struggling with something, find a group of business owners or find a business source to get the answers and support that you need—don’t sit quietly and suffer. I believe in sharing as much as I can, because I know it comes back to me tenfold.” Indeed, the net result during the pandemic was incredible: “We improved our business operations and had a more than 50% increase in profit from 2020 to 2021.” Another challenge being faced by many business owners was The Great Resignation and losing good staff members for a host of reasons. Lee, however, has been vigilant about proper training

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and with that knowledge comes staying power. “I’ve been fortunate to have had so many positive experiences with employees, and the best vehicle has been word-of-mouth. They tell their friends that it’s a great place to work, and then we end up with like-minded employees. I handle onboarding so that they understand my message to them and the customers. We train our employees to do and know everything so that they’re empowered to make educated decisions—even when I’m not here,” she stresses. After hearing how Lee built her business, how she continues to operate with the tenant of connection at her core, it’s easy to see why this architect-turned-retailer has become a destination for Ann Arbor families, grandparents and visitors. Lee has a list of sound advice she wants to impart to other independent store owners, which she truly follows: “Lead with kindness and integrity. Work with people that believe in the same things. Serve the community which includes your staff and customers with a commitment for excellence. Have an eye for beautiful products that also serve a function. Understand that the customer’s time and money is valuable.” As a previously newcomer to this industry, Lee knows everyone involved with helping her create her dream store, values what got her to where she is today—and she won’t be forgetting them any time soon. Building a business, she says, “is not only about getting more customers, but also about keeping the ones that took a chance on you the first time.”

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continued from page 12 me everything from merchandising to sales. This formative experience provided a critical foundation in my career. Jean taught me so much, including how to work with accounts such as The Limited, Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor, Ann Taylor, and Bloomingdales. My experience under Jean gave me the confidence I needed to go out on my own. More than 30 years later, I am still going strong! Earnshaw’s: What initially inspired you to get into this segment? Oren: I saw a need that wasn’t being filled. There was the ‘children’s market’ and the junior market, but there was nothing in between. I know the 7-14 girl didn’t want to dress like her little sister, but lines were sized 2-14. It didn’t seem right. So I started asking vendors to design lines just for that size range. When I started as a rep, the word tween really exist. It evolved and truly took on a life of its own and soon, all the stores were asking for ‘tween lines.’

Cozii Baby

Earnshaw’s: What were some challenges you encountered while trying to sell the tween category when it was new? Oren: Stores were hesitant because they were afraid it was too fast or sexy for their customer. They have since learned tween is taking the look down from Young Contemporary and making sure it is age-appropriate and mother-approved—you can do both! It is also a category that continues to grow unlike other segments of the market, and that is all good news. Earnshaw’s: To what do you attribute your staying power? Oren: I believe staying true to who you are, what you are good at and hard work will always pay off. Loving what you do will get you through the rough times. Once you find your niche, stick with it. There might be highs and lows, but you will still be known for ‘that something’ that you do better than anyone else. I believe we have assembled the best group of tween lines that a store could want—cool, trendy and happening! We pride ourselves on customer service. We strive to make sure that the stores feel valued and appreciated. They look to us for direction and advice and we take that role very seriously. Earnshaw’s: How many accounts do you work with? Oren: Not all are active at one time–but we have approximately 2,000 stores on the books. Earnshaw’s: Who are your team members and what are their roles? Oren: Naomi Orenstein is our Senior Account Executive who works with majors and specialty stores in our Tween Division, she heads up the Dallas Markets, is our social media wiz, and handles the forecasting and merchandising of many of our lines. Judy Casado is our Tween Account Executive working with the specialty stores throughout the country and internationally, she also heads up the Atlanta showroom during markets, and is a master at coordinating all of our shows. Becca Claassen heads our Young Contemporary Division, working with all of our specialty stores throughout the country, running all shows, handling media blasts, and cementing great relationships with her buyers. Meghan O’Clare is our graphic designer and website

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and office manager, taking care of just about everything that doesn’t fall under ‘salesperson. Finally, Anna Donnelly will be joining us as Junior Account Executive, assisting Naomi and Judy.

been so successful for so long. The mothers who originally wore Tractr when they were tweens are now buying it for their tween daughters. That’s longevity!

Earnshaw’s: What economic trends have you seen in this segment? Oren: Our segment continues to be driven by our shoppers, the 7-14 girls. Our shopper knows what she wants to wear and will not settle for less. She is very savvy and keeps us on our toes. With social media playing such a large role, she knows exactly what she wants and where to find it. I don’t think we have felt the same economic impact as other segments, though our customer is not immune from macro changes and our price point may remain competitive.

Earnshaw’s: What does a brand need to stay relevant and sell well in this market? Oren: Keep up with the trends and take your cues from the contemporary market. Keep evolving but stay in your lane. Showcase your line in the right stores with the customers you want to reach. Stay in touch with your stores—you can get invaluable feedback from your stores because they are with your customers every day. Don’t be afraid to take a chance on something new that you believe in—it could be the next big thing. Take care of your stores. Make sure you are someone they can count on. They have entrusted you with their business, and they are counting on you to deliver. Build relationships! We have been selling many of the same stores for years and have made so many dear friends that we cherish—I call them our ‘lifelines.’

Earnshaw’s: What’s the oldest brand you still represent? Oren: I am proud to have represented Tractr for 26 years. It was one of my first lines. The owner of Tractr, Howard Mensch, took a chance on me, and I guess it worked out! The brand continues to move with the times. Diane Kuczer, co-owner and head designer, along with Man Chung has kept us on trend, and we are always ahead of the curve. Tractr also has a Women’s Contemporary line and we take many styles down from that line. The fabrics are beautiful, and the fit has always been consistent. Tractr is known for denim, but it offers many other fabrics as well as outerwear, which was was very successful this year. The line has

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Earnshaw’s: What are the specific challenges of being a sales rep for tweens? Oren: I think I stuck with tweens because I find it the most fun, but it’s definitely the most challenging. With other size ranges, the mom makes the decision. The tween girl knows what she wants, and she’s the one who says yay or nay. She is your best audience or your worst critic. It’s

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important to know what is selling in the stores. We are also challenged to get all the information we have out to all of our customers. Prior to Covid, the stores would come into New York City on a regular basis. There is no substitute for in-person presentations. But since Covid, we are more dependent on Zoom, Facetimes, and phone appointments. The stores are so busy with their customers that it’s hard for them to put aside a ton of time for that. Stores might be more dependent on shows and out-of-town markets to shop lines, but there is only so much they can cover in a few days. We look forward to the day when we can get back to in-person showroom appointments. Earnshaw’s: What’s the best professional and personal advice you’ve received? Oren: Since I’ve been at this for so long, I have many pieces of advice! Work hard, stay focused and believe in yourself. Don’t worry so much about what others think and don’t take anything personally—the idea that ‘It’s not personal—It’s business.’ What I call ‘pity parties,’ when things haven’t gone well and you’re upset, shouldn’t last more than five minutes–move on and figure it out! I saw this saying in

Suzette Collection

a journal once and I loved the message: ‘Your smile is your logo. Your personality is your business card And the way you make others feel is your trademark.’ I hope we have made our family of manufacturers and retailers feel as special as they are. We love them all and are so grateful for their support over the years. Earnshaw’s: What are you looking forward to for the I Love Playtime/Kid’s Hub show? Oren: Starting a new season, it’s always exciting to showcase new lines. We look forward to seeing and catching up with all of our stores in person. We get invaluable feedback on what they are looking for. We love the shows! Earnshaw’s: What do you love most about the tween market? Oren: We work with amazing manufacturers and merchandise product that will be showcased in the best stores throughout the country. When we see a tween girl wearing one of our labels, we love it. We carry the most sought-after tween brands in the market, and we take great pride in knowing how hard we all worked to get there.

NYC, wear fashion happens first.



(just blocks from penn station)

MONDAY – FRIDAY: 9 – 6pm Call all participating showrooms to schedule your one-on-one shopping experience.


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Sales for FW24 & Immediates begin January 2024 and go through May 2024.

FEBRUARY 11 TH-13 TH Metropolitan Pavilion 125 West 18th St New York, NY 10011

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The Promise of Peach Warm, nurturing and calm, the Pantone Color of the Year Peach Fuzz, manifests in cuddly-worthy bamboo pajamas from Bellabu Bear. According to the Pantone Institute, Peach Fuzz is an “appealing peach hue nestled between pink and orange” that bridges the gap between youthful and timelessness. Bellabu Bear’s Peach Fuzz collection, which has been awarded the Seal of Acceptance from the National Eczema Association, comes in dresses and short sets in sizes 18 mos to 14 years as well as convertible footies, swaddles and beanies in sizes newborn to 3T. Ideal for sensitive skin and amazingly, any climate, bamboo is breathable, hypoallergenic and thermo-regulating—an ideal fabric to showcase this comforting color for 2024.

2 0 2 4 J A N U A R Y/ F E B R U A R Y • E A R N S H AW S .C O M

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FINAL CUT Pretty in Peach Dress manufacturer Kid’s Dream of Los Angeles has embraced the 2024 Pantone Color of the Year for their Peach Fuzz flower girl dresses in sizes 2 to 12 and 14 to 20.5. CEO Chewy Jung describes the four styles: a satin bodice with a tulle skirt gussied up with rhinestone and pearl trim (shown), a sequin drop waist with butterfly ruffle sleeves, a satin bodice with floating flower petals inside the skirt, which can be color customized, and a princess ballgown with floral trim. These elegant designs will surely make young customers feel special—and have peach dreams—for their dressy occasions.


E A R N S H AW S .C O M • J A N U A R Y/ F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 4

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Colette OK2005G - Brown Hearts

Nikko OK2451B - Charcoal/Black

Khloe OK2451G - Navy Leather

Wynn OK2082B - Charcoal Camo

Amina Leather OK2447G - Brown Leather

Rascal OK1400B - Space/Multi

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