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SPRING ’18 ACCESSORIES PREVIEW

The Little Things Matter THE ACCESSORIES MARKET PROVIDES BIG SALES OPPORTUNITIES, AND HERE’S WHY. BY EMILY BECKMAN

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Moon Paris straw bag

LIttle Miss Zoe bracelet Melina's Bowtique headband

Molo keychain

Sweet Wink glitter crown headband American Jewel headphones

Wee Ones bow

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IZE MATTERS? THINK again. Turns out the smallest products can often be your largest revenue booster. Accessories—a category nestled between both planned and impulse purchases—is the secret weapon for many childrenswear retailers to meeting their sales goals. Primarily driven by price and convenience, accessories lend themselves to a variety of customer needs minus the hassle of waiting for a dressing room or knowing what size the recipient may be. A fun handbag or unique jewelry set has been proven, time and again, as an easy sell, especially when it comes to the picky tween customer. “Buy them an outfit and within six to nine months, it’s out of style, the weather changed, it doesn’t fit or they don’t even know where it’s at,” says Sherie Judah, owner at American Jewel. “I tell buyers it’s much easier to sell a cute little scented backpack for $34.99 than to try to figure out what shirt matches what pants and hope the customer likes it.” Over American Jewel’s four years in business, Judah has noticed a definite shift in buyers’ behavior when it comes to shopping at trade shows. “It used to be really slow for us the first two days,” Judah says, citing how buyers would often first shop for apparel and then match accessories. “Now, I find customers coming to me first to find out what colorway and cute trends I’ve come out with. It’s been a game-changer this year!” Judah’s husband counts Maggie Tucker, owner of Magpies boutique in Nashville, as one such example. When the shop owner stopped by the American Jewel booth at Children’s Club last month looking for eyecatching accessories, he asked her how the American Jewel accessories had been performing. Her reply, “What I sold in December with American Jewel paid my rent for the whole year!” Miles Faust, CEO and owner of Wee Ones, cites similar success for his business, reporting a solid 2017 so far. Faust says the brand’s flagship business, Wee Ones, is healthy, and its two newest ventures—Sublime Designs, the sublimation-printed sock line, and Wee Ones’ Game Day collection featuring officially licensed collegiate accessories—are growing well. When taking a closer look at what successful accessories brands offer, the basis is fundamentally the same: innovation. “The market is constantly evolving, and it is up to us to innovate and bring newness,” says Jennifer Mines, vice president of Iscream. She notes that her brand has honed in on new shapes and materials, like holographic fabric, metallic denim and patent-shaped unicorn bags for Spring ’18. While the accessories market is healthy and plenty of new companies are entering the mix, Judah warns buyers to be wary of knockoffs. “I see many designers copying other designers’ work,” she says, believing originality should have merit. “I just don’t understand why manufacturers can’t take the time to design an original line and be proud of their work; I think that’s the saddest part of the industry.” Another challenge facing accessories brands: landing coveted shelf

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