Archive for February, 2012...
Filed under Bridal Accessories, Bridal Gloves, Bridal Jewelry, Bridesmaid Jewelry, Dress Hats, Evening Bags, Hats, Rhinestone Jewelry, Tiaras
From coast to coast there are small fashion businesses that are thriving in spite of the mountain of obstacles that seem to be in the way. One challenge new entrepreneur entering fashion face is competition from major retailers with deep pockets. The previous two blogs examined niche markets that provide safe-haven where big box companies don’t go. But there is another safe haven where small business shares the market with the majors. These are the areas of fashion where consumers simply trust small business over the majors to supply the fashion item. What does that mean? Well an example can best answer the question.
There is a very large market of ladies searching for church hats that opens every spring. Yes, fall is another time for dress hats for church, but spring is more important because it contains the two largest days of the year for church hats—Easter and Mothers Day. All the major department stores and many of the other big box companies will have a selection of dress hats to meet the demand, but the selection is not extensive, it is not on target with fresh millinery designs, and there is plenty of duplication of styles. In addition, there is no dedicated area to dress hats that tells a story consumers trust.
What about small business? This is where the church ladies go to select new hats for spring and fall. Why? First, small businesses that concentrate on church hats make this an important part of their inventory. The shopkeeper is aware of changing styles and colors for the season, not to mention their expert help to customers in choosing the right hat for their personality and stature. They also have such familiarity with headwear that showing customers how to wear a hat is almost natural.
Then there is the unique factor. One thing women searching for church hats don’t want to happen is to show up on Sunday morning and others are wearing the same hat. Small millinery businesses have wide selection, but very little duplication of hats in the same style and color.
I don’t believe anyone has ever officially done the statistics, but I feel it is almost certain that the church hats retailed over a season are 80% or higher from small business.
What day is more important in a woman’s life than their wedding day? For that reason everything must be perfect. This day will be frozen in the wedding album for generations to come so brides want traditional elegance. While some majors venture into the specialized business of bridal accessories, the wedding party mainly trusts the expert advice of professionals in small business.
Will the bride wear a tiara, a veil, or simply a hair ornament? They trust small business experts to help make these decisions.
Should the bride wear gloves? If so, what length and what design? And what about the bridesmaids? There are endless options here from no gloves to wrist length, over the elbow, and opera length. Brides feel much more confident when they have the input of that small business professional that has accessorized hundreds of weddings and has insight on what looks best for each individual occasion.
Jewelry is another area that calls for important decisions. Brides planning a wedding have their hands full with all the details of making the occasion perfect. Accessorizing the gown is one more decision to be made and it is an important one. Here they often feel comfortable with the advice of an expert. After all, the choices will appear in nearly every picture in the wedding album for all posterity. Some gowns look good with necklace sets. Should it be pearl or rhinestone? Others call for earrings only. In addition there is the bridesmaid jewelry. When that expert in small business makes a recommendation, a lot of weight comes off the shoulders of the bride. They feel reassured because a professional with a history of experience provides input they trust.
Evening bags are another accessory tailored to each bridal occasion. Bridal bags for the bride and evening bags for bridesmaids is an option. Actually, for bridesmaids the evening bags are often given as gifts. But does the individual wedding call for evening bags? The small business expert not only helps make the decision, but normally they are the only one selection to provide the bridal bag for the bride and colors for bridesmaids. Overall, bridal couples trust small business when it comes to an event as important as the wedding day.
FASCINATORS & FAST INNOVATION IN FASHION
Fascinators were on the rise before the royal wedding, but after that event hit world-wide television, the chart of popularity went straight up. This is a new addition to headwear and who do consumers trust for the latest innovations in fashion?—Small business of course, usually boutiques.
Fascinators will be covered in depth in the next blog, but here they are only used as an example of the fast reaction small business has to innovation. When small business sees new fashion items making a sudden rise in popularity, they get with suppliers and have it in the store within a week or two. Big box companies don’t operate like that. Their purchasing was done months ahead of time and buyers have layers of bureaucracy before innovative items hit the floor. So for the really “new” in fashion, consumers trust small business.
Fascinators are an excellent example of fashion items that rise suddenly because they are so cyclical. For centuries they have made a sudden appearance on the fashion scene and then completely disappeared, retuning again for a new generation that views them as entirely new.
A famous picture of Marie Antoinette wearing a fascinator makes the point. When high hairdos are in style hats can’t be worn so fascinators are the only choice in headwear. Over the last few hundred years, fascinators came and went with hair styles. Most recently, cocktail hats and fascinators became an important fashion statement in the sixties. But today’s generation doesn’t remember that so they appear to be entirely new. The important point is fashion items that suddenly rise to popularity consumer expect to find in small fashion businesses and that is where they look.
This is only a sampling of the fashion items that consumers depend on small business to supply. How often is small business overlooked or underestimated when we think of the overall retail picture. They are there and many are thriving because they provide endless products in niche markets that the majors miss and even more important, because the expertise and personal service of small fashion businesses simply cannot be duplicated by the majors in many markets.
Filed under Earrings, Fashion Jewelry, Necklace Sets, Pendants, Rhinestone Jewelry, Seasonal Jewelry, Uncategorized, Valentine Jewelry, Wholesale Jewelry
Posted by admin on Wednesday, February 29th, 2012
The second part of our series on survival tactics for small business starts with jewelry and accessories for seasons and special occasions. Valentine’s Day is here and that is exactly what we are talking about when we say special occasions. Actually the Spring is loaded with them—mainly Valentines, Easter, and Mother’s Day.
JEWELRY AND ACCESSORIES FOR SPECIAL OCCASIONS
As a salesman calling on small fashion businesses, presentations on the days leading up to these special occasions were filled with interruptions as busy shopkeepers tried to squeeze in ordering between taking care of customers that wanted their input on what to buy. This is a happy problem.
Yes, you can say that special occasions like Easter see discount stores jammed with Easter baskets and candy, but what about shoppers that want a quality gifts for Mom, a spouse, or significant other. Jewelry with exceptional quality really sends a meaningful message for these consumers. One manufacturer that does an exceptional job at providing exceptional quality is “Best Brand”. Every special occasion is covered in their line that can be found in each occasion’s category on our website.
What makes this line so unique and desirable? The meaningful designs and exceptional manufacturing process. Let’s look at Mother’s Day. “Mom” is the most emotionally packed word in the English language. This day carries feelings. So what’s the message shoppers want to send on this occasion? Special, very special, no one can replace a Mom. One of “Best Brands” pendants goes straight to the heart with letters spelling out “Special Mom”.
The delivery is not a simple casting, which any manufacturer can create. No, “Best Brand” goes the extra mile in quality. The pendant uses their signature process of stamping the design from a thin sheet of steel into a statement that immediately creates a message for onlookers. Then the jewelry is plated, often two-toned, and polished for a finished product that the eye cannot distinguish from an expensive work in sterling silver. This is providing the fashion jewelry for special occasions that stands above the majors. This is a quality line that is so labor intense that the large quantities national department stores need simply cannot be produced, so small business is the exclusive provider for the consumer.
Keep an area available for special occasions and decorate it to draw attention so that customers will remember where to buy the seasonal gifts for the important special days of the year.
UNIQUE FASHION JEWELRY
Niche markets don’t need to be narrow. They can have universal application to accessorize fashion. The pendants described above and matching earrings reach out to endless themes as well as designs that are fashion statements. Added to chokers or chains, these quality pieces of fashion jewelry provide a tailored line that is perfect with career wear and suits.
The endless themes also create a show-stopper that consumers can’t pass up. All the original designs capture attention and something in this group will pull at the heart strings of the shopper—whether their pets, a vacation area like sea life, their interests like sewing or cooking, or their children’s activities like ballet, cheerleading, or soccer Mom.
The match of fashion jewelry to interests close to the heart is almost a guaranteed sale. In addition, the many fashion designs can be a perfect accessory for a new outfit as well as jewelry to update last year’s wardrobe to this year’s trends.
Shoppers need the wide selection of fashion jewelry that specialized small businesses carry to complete an outfit with the perfect accessories. Small business is the answer because the majors want to concentrate on apparel and don’t have the staff for individual service that helps shoppers coordinate.
Broader niche markets can be dressy as well. Where do you find the wide selection of rhinestone jewelry needed for prom, bridal, balls, and pageants? Only in small fashion businesses. Department stores are normally very limited in the selection of rhinestone. On the other hand, boutiques and accessory stores have the selection and the personalized service to help customers accessorize an outfit.
Normally bridal and prom customers want delicate designs in rhinestone necklace sets. Gowns dictate gold or silver plated settings as well as whether a necklace is needed. Then there are personalities that vary between contemporary or traditional looks with more daring and fashion forward customers preferring dramatic designs that follow the trends in fashion jewelry.
Often when the gown does not accommodate a necklace, more dramatic earrings are the accessory. Sometimes the customer knows exactly what they want, but more often, they are looking for the expert advice of the shopkeeper. Make the perfect match for that customer and you can almost be certain, they will be back shopping with you again.
Success for small business is most often a collection of niche markets and specialized service. This provides a unique combination to fill needs that the big box stores can’t match.
Filed under Boas, Brooches, Fashion Jewelry, Feather Masks, Mardi Gras, Mardi Gras Beads, Mardi Gras Earrings, Mardi Gras Masks, Masks, Necklace Sets, Sports Jewelry, Uncategorized, Valentine Jewelry, Venetian Masks, Wholesale Jewelry
Posted by admin on Wednesday, February 15th, 2012
This is the 27th year for Accessory Wholesale inc. business. Sometimes we have to stop and ask, have we learned anything over the last quarter of a century in business? Our business is fashion jewelry and accessories plus some really fun items like Mardi Gras and masks. Those familiar with fashion know that it is cyclical. Trends come and go, business build for years and then reverse for years in rollercoaster-like cycles.
How does small business survive that? Our business as a wholesaler depends on the success of small retailers. These are our customers. Some small fashion businesses have found their space in the retail world and are doing very well, while many others may feel the walls closing in with competitions from major retailers as well as taxes, insurance, and everything else including days with problem customers.
Over the last 27 years, we haven’t come up with neat little formulas for guaranteed success, but we have noticed some tactics by successful retailers that seem to work. This blog and the following two will hash out five ideas.
How many times have we heard the three most important things that make a business successful are location, location, and location? Sounds simple enough, right? That is until we try to pin down what is the right location. Most areas have shopping destinations that can draw from 25 and more miles away. This is often a mall like the Acadiana Mall in Lafayette, La. or the White Oaks Mall in Springfield, Ill.
These shopping destinations get plenty of traffic, but leases are through the roof. Small business often feels it is giving all the profit to the property owner. I noticed something as a road salesman calling on small fashion businesses. Many successful businesses were in smaller towns away from the shopping destination. They had desirable merchandise and were conveniently close to their customers. Personal service accompanied by a high level of energy made shoppers feel special as well as energized to buy. They were packed with customers when locals needed gifts for those special days like Valentines Day and Mothers Day.
Location and the price of the lease need to be weighed to determine whether sales volume is going to overcome the lease cost.
2) NICHE MARKETS IN JEWELRY & FASHION
The Christmas shopping season is probably the time when small business feels major retailers cutting into their sales more than any other time of the year. Niche markets insulate small business from the onslaught. Most niche markets are an area where the majors simply don’t go.
FLEUR-DE-LIS JEWELRY AND ACCESSORIES
A few examples will make the point. Since Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, especially in New Orleans, fleur-de-lis jewelry and accessories have been extremely popular. It is the symbol of the City as well as on the Acadiana flag. Louisiana has rallied around this emblem since the devastation of the Hurricane and it has been in hot demand by the locals. But the only place to find a nice selection is small business. This is a niche market that small business owns.
CAPITALIZING ON LOCAL SCHOOL THEMES
Think about sports. Local high schools and colleges have a following of avid fans. This is a super niche market, especially high schools. Of course manufacturers are not going to produce lines of merchandise for individual high schools, but that is where the ingenuity of small business comes in.
If this were a recipe, school colors and school mascots would be the main ingredients. Decorating an area with colors and the mascot screams “local high school” to your shoppers. Everything from stuffed animals to jewelry and printed shirts creates the story. In jewelry, chokers, mascot pendants, and school color beads can be offered separately so customer can create their own high school jewelry. School color bracelets are also available to fit into the theme. If mascot pendants aren’t available, simply substitute a sports pendant like a football. That with the school color beads will tell the story. Sounds like a lot of creativity and work? Well, there are some easier choices that can add other niche markets.
MARDI GRAS JEWELRY, GIFTS, AND PARTY ITEMS
In some areas, Mardi Gras is huge and this market belongs almost entirely to small business. If “The Greatest Free Show on Earth” is celebrated in your area, take advantage of the enormous retail business done in Mardi Gras items while other parts of the country are recovering from Christmas. If not, you be the shop that introduces this fun celebration to your area.
What makes up an irresistible Mardi Gras selection for retailers? Of course, beads must be included—not cheap throw beads, but specialty beads that consumers will pay money for. Hand-strung Mardi Gras beads in nice designs and Mardi Gras colors of purple, gold, and green have to be part of the selection. But other colors are often used in beads that have a theme, like crawfish boil, jesters, peppers, seafood, oysters on the half shell, and more.
Novelty hats are also an almost necessary party item. Purple, gold, and green novelty hats again do well for Mardi Gras—headwear like jester hats, sequin tiaras, mad hatters, or crowns. But any crazy hat will be popular for this super party. You need a lot of selection, but not a lot of depth. The market doesn’t end on Ash Wednesday. Festivals, birthday parties, and sporting events are more opportunities for sales in this fun headwear.
Boas are a festive accessory popular with girls—purple, gold, and green for Mardi Gras day, but other colors do very well also. When buying boas, the fullness is determined by weight and a good weight is 55 to 60 grams.
Masks are a major ingredient for Mardi Gras and selection has certainly become more sophisticated over the last few years. Feather masks, both worn with elastic bands and on a stick to be held, continue to provide more breath-taking designs. The sequin mask with a spray of feathers to one side is leading seller year after year. Coque, ostrich, and marabou feathers make a fabulous arrangement in the spray, making these masks extraordinary without being expensive.
The rising star in masks is Venetian style masks. These gorgeous works of art were practically unknown a few years ago and now frequent reality shows, TV, and the movies. The art of mask making had its own guild in Venus during the Renaissance and the growing popularity of Venetian style masks makes it hard to pass up when stocking your store.
Venetian style masks can be affordable with designs like the Arlecchino patchwork patterns of eye masks for men or masks mounted on sticks with lavish ostrich plumes for women.
Exceptional styles include the full-face jester masks in Mardi Gras colors as well as butterfly Venetian style masks for women that are breath-taking. Venetian masks have the history and artistic beauty that will make you proud to include them in your inventory.
Whew! This blog took more time than I expected so we will save two important areas for small business until the next blog—the areas of jewelry for special occasions and seasons plus key niche markets that appeal to a wider audience.
Posted by admin on Thursday, February 2nd, 2012