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Archive for January, 2012...

Filed under Earrings, Fashion Jewelry, Pendants, Scarves, Uncategorized, Valentine Jewelry
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 Valentines Day—it comes in the dead of winter, the most frigid month of the year, yet it stirs warm feelings for sweethearts and couples. 


A mountain of cards, flowers, and candy are exchanged to show sweethearts and spouses how much they are loved.  Yet small business has to love Valentine’s Day even more with total sales reaching 9.3 billion in 2011 according to an About.com article. 



How did it all begin?  The history of Valentines Day is rather confusing.  The name comes from the feast of St. Valentine that falls on February 14; at least it did until the revision of The General Roman Calendar of feast days in 1969.  Prior to that, February 14 was actually the fest day for two St. Valentines—One from Rome and the other from Terni, Italy.    


It’s the one from Rome that is most likely linked to the romantic theme of Valentines Day.  Legend says that Emperor Claudius II cancelled all wedding and engagements in Rome because he felt married men were less likely to serve in the Roman Legion.  St. Valentine secretly married Christian couples and when discovered, was condemned to death by Claudius.  Another legend states he miraculously healed his jailer’s daughter of blindness.  They continued to visit him in prison and before his execution he sent her a note reading, “From your Valentine”. 


A more likely origin of Valentines Day is a belief in Britain and France that birds picked their mates on February 14 and according to The Catholic Encyclopedia this is reflected in Chaucer’s Parliament of Foules that reads:


For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day
Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.



While the origin of Valentines Day is uncertain, there is no question about its importance to small business–Over 1 billion of candy sold, over 190 million cards, and 25% of the annual sales of flower shops.  Best of all, small business is getting a large share of this business. 


What about fashion jewelry and accessory shops?  They have a very important part to play.  Think about it.  Flowers wilt in a week, candy is soon gone, and cards end up in the drawer.  But fashion jewelry provides the gift that lasts.  Gifts that go into the jewelry box will be there as a reminder every time it is opened to retrieve an accessory.  Granted, fashion jewelry will not outpace cards, candy, or flowers for Valentines Day gifts, but it is the great add-on gift that does not perish.  It is the meaningful accessory that stirs feeling every time it is put on.   



What fashion jewelry is most relevant for the occasion?  Every year we see a swell of business in crystal heart brooches, especially brooches with red crystals.  This fashion jewelry speaks for itself as it makes a shimmering statement of love. Four styles share the limelight and all have noticeable size and plenty of glimmer. 


Cupid pins and combinations of cupid and hearts transmit the same feelings with toned down drama.  These cute pins find appeal for all ages. 


Filigree heart lockets are also lifetime keepsakes with a classic design.  The puffy hearts have matching earrings and the quality is superb, crafted by “Best Brand”, a leader in fashion jewelry quality. 


Usually men are shopping for Valentines jewelry for their sweethearts or wives and often they are not comfortable with buying Valentines jewelry and need your help.  The right item depends of the receiver’s personality and age.  Many younger women prefer the look of sterling silver in bracelets or earrings.  Again “Best Brand” does an excellent job in this area.  Many of his creations are dimensionally stamped from a thin sheet of steel, sealed, plated silver, and polished for a finished product that even a jeweler can mistake for sterling.  Why?  Because this quality manufacturer has taken the time to craft fashion jewelry identical to the steps taken for fine jewelry. 


A final consideration for Valentines jewelry is rhinestone.  Rhinestone heart necklaces see a real boost of sales in February.  Sliding on a chain, these rhinestone hearts are easy to wear with outfits throughout the year and the recipient will never forget where it came from. 



According to Aboutflowers spouses receive 57% of Valentines gifts, Moms receive 20%, significant others 20%, and friends 9%


So this opens up other areas we maybe haven’t thought about.  Moms have an easy solution.  We can cheat by going to the Mothers Day selection of jewelry and choose hearts specifically made for Mom. Most are again made by “Best Brand” with that same high quality reported above.  Mix some of these in your Valentines Day presentation.  You may have no competition for such specialized Valentines Day jewelry and you know it will always sell for Mothers Day if there is any inventory left. 


For friends, there is a superb gift that is also very practical—sculptured pewter writing pens with a dimensionally raised design that says “Best Friends”.  Sell-through is no problem here either because we are going into a peak wedding season and these make wonderful bridesmaid gifts.       


Add some decorations and display Valentines jewelry and gifts together to tell a story.  Keeps a jump on all special occasions coming up, arranging each one together in a location to tell a story.  Soon shoppers will realize your business is the go-to location for unique special occasion gifts. 

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Filed under Mardi Gras Masks, Masks, Masquerade Masks, Venetian Masks
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As 2012 rolls out, retailers are looking for every edge to build a successful year, especially if the holiday season was less than spectacular.  One often-overlooked market that has more sales potential than imagined is masks.  I’m sure that will raise some eyebrows of doubt, but this market has been growing quietly under radar for the last few years. 


You have seen them in movies and in reality shows, but probably had little idea how popularity was growing.  Today schools are doing masquerade proms; couples are having Mardi Gras or Venetian weddings; fundraisers are using masks to raise money; and masked balls are growing in popularity. 


When your customers need large quantities, they usually turn to masquerade masks because they get a reasonably good look at very inexpensive price.  One-step up is feather masks—still inexpensive, but exceptional in appearance. 


However, the surprising big winner in today’s market is Venetian style masks.  They have a history that dates back to the Renaissance where the art had its own Guild in Venice.  Masking was common in Venice and eventually got out of hand, causing the Church to step in and limit the time to Carnival, from the Feast of the Epiphany until Mardi Gras Day.


Some designs were popular among the public and others found inspiration in the Commedia dell’arte, the Venetian theatre.  From popular designs comes the Bauta mask and no one can visit Carnival in Venice without seeing this style that was a favorite disguise by the populace of the City.  Accompanied with a cape or hood, the mask not only covered the face, but also muffled the voice to avoid identification of the wearer. 


Mask inspiration also comes from the Commedia dell’arte.  Actually, the original masks used during the Renaissance were made of leather, but his revival of the art in the early 1970s took the characters as inspiration and brought the art to a new level. 


The long nose mask is an example.  The servant characters of the Commedia dell’arte were called Zanni.  This form of theatre is the origin of slapstick.  (The name actually comes from Arlecchino’s sword that had two pieces of wood separated so when he smacked someone with it the wood slapped together making a noise.)  The raw humor associated the length of a Zanni’s nose with how dumb the character was—the longer the nose, the dumber the character.  From this comes the Zanni mask with exaggerated nose, so popular today. 


The leading servant character was Arlecchino often represented by patchwork patterns reflecting his patched clothes.  Arlecchino masks are a favorite for men for masquerade. 


It the US Carnival is most commonly referred to as Mardi Gras.  The full-face jester mask in Mardi Gras colors of purple, gold, and green is a spectacular piece of art that is Venetian inspired and can be worn or used as a wall mask.  The jester hat and collar are shapeable. 


Venetian style masks can also be very elegant.  Venetian style weddings today use masks, often masks on a stick.  The most popular style has ostrich plumes in color combinations of white and silver or white and gold.  This is growing in popularity faster than most people realize. So if you are a bridal shop, don’t overlook the possibilities here.   


Fundraisers and masquerade balls often call for more elaborate Venetian style masks.  The butterfly Venetian style mask is exceptional.  A mesh screen above the top provides the appearance of butterfly wings.  This style is pricier so quantities aren’t large, but the engaging beauty of the design keeps it selling. 



The newest Venetian style mask in the upper end comes individually boxed with dimensionally shaped maple leaves surrounding the eye mask.  Two-tone colors shade for a spectacular effect.  The inspiration of the maple leaves is a mystery, but the beauty sells this work of art. 


Mardi Gras is a month away and it is it huge for mask sales.  Beyond that interest continues all the way to summer with proms, weddings, balls, and fundraisers.  Surprise yourself by trying some masks in your shop.  There is a bigger market than most retailers realize. 

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Filed under Mardi Gras
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Sales figures for Christmas seem to be mixed, even among the majors.  Black Friday ushered in the shopping season with a bang, but according to an article from Reuters, the final figure for December sales were pretty anemic. 


Well, small business, don’t panic because the next four months belongs to you.  The line up of  occasions and events provides a continual stream of opportunities that don’t end until mid or late May—first Valentine’s Day, then Mardi Gras, proms, weddings, pageant, dance competition, Easter, Mothers Day, spring fashion, hats for church and derby day—and I am sure we left some events out.  The next few blogs are going to highlight the opportunities in all these events for small business. 



 Mardi Gras is an ever expanding celebration that is absolutely huge in some areas.  New Orleans calls it “The Greatest Free Show on Earth”.  It first came to America through the Louisiana territory when Bienville explored the Mississippi in 1699.  On Mardi Gras Day he camped on a point near the mouth of the Mississippi River that is still called Mardi Gras point today.   

Mardi Gras items

 Dating back to the Renaissance, the official beginning of the Mardi Gras season is the Feast of the Epiphany that traditionally falls on January 6.  This closes the Christmas season and opens the Carnival season that continues until Mardi Gras Day, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.   

 For retailers in many parts of the country, this is a season they look forward to because the shopping destination for Mardi Gras merchandise is almost exclusively small business.  What do shoppers buy? 



Mardi Gras pin

Soon after the season opens, the spirit begins to spread with Mardi Gras music playing on the radio and ladies donning Mardi Gras jewelry—pins, earrings, bracelets, and sometimes necklaces.  But the runaway most popular jewelry item that really spreads the spirit is Mardi Gras pins


What are the most popular themes in Mardi Gras pins?  Jesters, masks, comedy and tragedy, and crowns make up the majority of Mardi Gras pins.  Almost always in Mardi Gras colors, this jewelry is important to gift and apparel shops for customers that want to enjoy the spirit as well as those that need favors. 


small Mardi Gras dolls

Carnival clubs that provide the Mardi Gras parades and completely foot the bill are called “Krewes”.  Many have formal balls before the parades roll.  For many Krewes, favors are part of the celebration.  Small dolls and jester head ornaments and magnets rank among the most popular favors.  The same items do well in gift shops for souvenirs. 


Small dolls normally have glazed ceramic faces and hands and are dressed in jester outfits with sequin or shiny lame’ outfits in the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, gold, and green. 



Mardi Gras beads

Imaginative design has catapulted Mardi Gras beads into the forefront of party items over the last decade.  Of course gift shops need exceptional Mardi Gras beads to grab customers’ attention, but even the throws from floats have been moving up in quality.  An article from the New Orleans newspaper a few years ago had a title that tells the story — Throw Me Something Mista and it Better be Good.  


The majority of throw beads come out of a machine already molded on the string.  These are called MOT or molded on twine.  That doesn’t mean they are undesirable—no, large strands of MOT pearls are one of the most sought after beads thrown from a float. 


But it is beads with themes that make up what is called special throws.  These are the beads reserved by riders for someone they know in the crowd.  They are usually hand-strung and also rank as top sellers in gift shops. 


Resin or metallic components in the design create the themes that are endless, but South Louisiana themes like seafood, alligators, New Orleans, coffee and beignets, and oysters on the half shell are right at the top. 



Mardi Gras masks

Long before Mardi Gras came to America, it was a major celebration in Europe.  Masking was a big part of the revelry then as it is today.  Venice is famous for its Carnival masks and that subject will be covered in the next blog.  But today masks are major part of the celebration no matter where Mardi Gras is enjoyed.  And they can be extraordinary without being expensive. 


Mardi Gras feather masks have wholesale prices well under $5 and retail under $10 so everyone can enjoy them and take them home as souvenirs.  One design–a sequin mask with a spray of extraordinary feathers to one side tops the category year after year.  The masks have Mardi Gras colors and come with elastic bands to wear or sticks to hold.  Nearly every gift shop in the French Quarter of New Orleans will have masks as well as beads so bring the spirit to your area by including masks and treating customers to New Orleans Mardi Gras spirit. 


Mardi Gras novelty hats

There’s a lot of good-spirited craziness that goes with Mardi Gras and novelty hats give revelers the opportunity to express it.  What do you need in party hats?  First, everything in Mardi Gras colors fits in.  There are spike hats, dragon hats, jester hats, and mad hatters with dangling fringe.  Fro the girls, there are sequin tiaras in Mardi Gras colors, beaded or tinsel wigs, and headbands with crowns.  Actually, anything in crowns works for Mardi Gras novelty hats.  Let your customers get a little crazy by including a variety of Mardi Gras novelty hats and you can be sure they will be trying them on and drawing a crowd in your shop. 



Mardi Gras feather boas

Feather boas are simply irresistible for the ladies enjoying the celebration.  And boas in Mardi Gras colors will be at the top of the list.  This is a must for a festive atmosphere.  Since Mardi Gras only comes once a year, throw in some boas and let the party roll.


Cash in on Mardi Gras!  It’s a small business bonanza and it’s a lot of fun.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Saturday, January 14th, 2012

Filed under Masks
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Where has the year gone?  New Year’s Eve just passed, marking the end of 2011.  Most people don’t miss this opportunity for a celebration, whether a romantic evening out or the fun of a masquerade party.  And masquerade parties have been accelerating in popularity thanks to all the innovations in masks over the last few years. 


Think about it.  Probably less than 5 years ago most people had no clue what a Venetian mask was.  Now they are the rave, popping up in movies and reality shows.  The driving force of any trend, including the rising popularity of masks, is innovation.  Innovations in the art of Venetian mask are coming so quickly, it is breath-taking.  



New on the mask scene are maple leaf Venetian masks—eye masks surrounded with dimensionally shaped maple leaves, creating a stunning work of art.  Most Venetian masks find roots in the Italian comedy introduced during the Renaissance in Venice, but the origin of these gorgeous masks doesn’t fit any of the Commedia ‘dell Arte characters. So inspiration is a mystery, but that doesn’t take away from stunning attractiveness of the masks that have several color choices.  They come individually boxed with clear plastic tops so retailers can easily display the Venetian style masks. 




Venetian styloe mask with filigreeFiligree cutouts are another new innovation in Venetian style masks.  One exciting design has a filigree butterfly that appears to flutter above an eye mask.  Two-tone color provides variety with one color, usually metallic, shading to another color while scrollwork adds artistic beauty.  Best of all, the wholesale price of these gorgeous masks lets shopkeepers pass on a bargain to their customers.  


Full face masks, especially jesters with attached jester hats and collars, just keep getting more spectacular every season.  The masks are loaded with personality, using dimensionally shaped faces and brocade fabric on the shapeable hat and collar.  A low wholesale price will help you with sell-through on these stunning full-face jester masks. 


Mardi Gras is February 21 this year so we don’t want to ignore full-face Mardi Gras jester masks.   What a striking statement these masks make as wall hangings or masks to wear.  Sculptured features provide dimensionally raised design in paper mache’ that is the renowned medium for Venetian mask art.  A ribbon loop I the center lets the jester face hang as a wall mask and ribbons on each side tie to hold the face in place as a full-face mask to wear.  This is not the cheapest Mardi Gras mask, but certainly one of the most stunning. 



domino mask with veil

Is there any mask more widely known than the domino mask?  This is the familiar Lone Ranger mask and the one seen on burglars in cartoons.  Inexpensive and understated, these masks are a favorite for men and now have a new design with a beaded veil that will provide a style for women. 


Cat faces and butterflies offer more masquerade masks for ladies in a variety of colors.  From black cats to leopards, these face masks with nylon whiskers provide masquerade wear at low cost that gives you an option for your customers throwing parties that need a large quantity at affordable prices.

 butterfly masquerade mask

The butterfly masks also catch attention with five different color combinations.  Lots of sparkle and eye-catching pop with these masks that are oh so affordable. 




Feather mask

A sequin mask wit a spray of feathers to one side is the feather mask that ends up in the top seller list every year.  This look is just so good, nothing seems able to replace it so the style remerges as the number one selling feather mask year after year.  It is available on a stick or with elastic bands to wear.  Color choices let the masks match outfits for events like Sweet Sixteens or Quinceaneras—one more big boost for these stunning masks. 


Well, New Year’s Eve is only the beginning of the line up of fun events coming over the next few months.  The Greatest Free Show on Earth—Mardi Gras–is fast approaching and masks are certainly big for this event.  So stock some masks in your shop now and surprise yourself with all the interest they draw and how well this item sells.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Friday, January 6th, 2012