The Mardi Gras season officially opens on the Feast of the Epiphany when the Three Wisemen come to Bethlehem. Many are familiar with the English Christmas carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas. Traditions vary around the world, but in America The Twelve Days begin on Christmas and end on Twelfth Night, January 5. This ends the Christmas season and for many traditionalists, the Christmas tree comes down the following morning, January 6. This is the feast of the Epiphany when the Wisemen arrive. It is also the first day of the Mardi Gras season.
So in New Orleans and many other locations where Carnival is celebrated, The Christmas carols are over and Mardi Gras music begins to play on the radio. Retailers pack up Christmas decorations and holiday gifts. Out comes the masks, beads, favors, dolls, and Mardi Gras jewelry. Some remove the Christmas decorations from the tree and redecorate it in a Mardi Gras theme. The party begins.
LEADING MARDI GRAS ITEMS FOR RETAILERS
With the celebration of Mardi Gras spreading throughout the United Sates and into other countries, some retailers wonder what merchandise I need to capitalize on Carnival season. Early in the season, long before parades, parties, and balls, Mardi Gras jewelry is selling. When purple, gold, and green combine in jewelry, Mardi Gras immediately comes to mind. These are the colors of Mardi Gras and they have symbolism. According to Arthur Hardy’s book, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the colors as well as their meaning date back to the first Rex Parade in 1872. Purple symbolized justice, green faith, and gold was for power.
MARDI GRAS JEWELRY
Mardi Gras jewelry includes pins, earrings, bracelets, pendants, and necklace sets. Out of these, pins are most popular. The leading themes are masks, jesters, crowns, along with comedy and tragedy. Since gold is one of the Mardi Gras colors, customers prefer gold plating to silver plating. Pins provide gifts or favors by members of Mardi Gras courts as well as table favors shared with those seated at the same table at the ball. The krewes that retain historical customs also you pins as call out gifts for call out dances.
But it is your customers that want to get into the spirit of the season that buy most of the Mardi Gras pins. Often they want matching earrings to really deck out for work or a night out. Mardi Gras earrings use the same themes and colors. Often earrings will match the pins. On our site, the pins start with MGP and earrings with MGE. The number that follows the prefix will be the same if there is a match.
Close behind earrings in popularity is Mardi Gras bracelets. Some of the most popular are charm bracelets that have a theme telling a story. For example, the Mardi Gras mask bracelet has charms showing a variety of masks along with Boeuf, the white bull of the Rex Parade. Today the fiberglass bull is second only to Rex himself as a standard fixture of the parade. Originally a live bull was used signifying farewell to meat as lent would arrive at midnight.
Other styles like stretch bracelets with end to end charms using the most popular themes of Mardi Gras and designs with opaque beading supporting dangling charms add to the variety of Mardi Gras bracelets. Even some of your customers that don’t participate in any of the functions, want to show some spirit with Mardi Gras jewelry.
Especially in New Orleans, there are two sides to Mardi Gras. The first is revelry along the parade routes, in the French Quarter, and in some neighborhoods. It is exuberant fun that rarely gets out of control. Every form of costume, hat, and face painting fills the streets. Hands wave in the air as floats pass, “Throw me somethin’, mister”. What an atmosphere for novelty hats!
Mardi Gras crazy hats provide every look from crazy to almost classic. Colors are usually purple, gold, and green. Spiked jester hats seem like they have been around forever, but not really. The novelty hat business took of in a big way about 15 years ago with cottage industries producing felt stovepipes. They went over so big that soon every imaginable design in novelty hats was popping up. Spiked jester hats were one of the first and remain popular today.
But fun hats for Carnival are not limited to Mardi Gras colors. Just browse the novelty hat selection and you will see animals, sea life, critters, crowns, and every other imaginable design to add to the fun of a party. These are a must for Mardi Gras celebrations.
MARDI GRAS FAVORS
The other side of the coin is formal elegance. Many of the Krewes have formal balls. Only those with an invitation attend and the balls have a rich pageantry that has a long history. With jewelry we mentioned call out gifts, table favors, and favors given by royalty of the Krewe.
Other items that make popular gifts are small jester head magnets and ornaments—usually in purple, gold, and green. Ceramic cups and pewter spoons, thimbles, and shot glasses are memorable gifts.
Small ceramic wall masks and small jester dolls also make appropriate gifts for the ball. Many of these items are also popular in gift shops that cater to tourists that need something about the celebration to take home.
Masks have a huge connection to Mardi Gras. In New Orleans, masks are required for the riders on the floats. But long before that, masks were an integral part of Carnival—actually all the way back to the Renaissance with Carnival in Venice.
Today, the Venetian mask is making a tremendous comeback. Search images of Carnival in Venice and you will see masks so exquisite they are breath-taking. This is the inspiration for Venetian-style masks that are mushrooming in popularity. Venice originally used paper mache’ and this is the medium for many of the styles based on Venetian art today.
But feather masks are also a hit and provide vibrant color and pizzazz at a lower price point. They were the main style of mask for Mardi Gras before the rise of Venetian masks in recent years. The leading style is FM80, a feather mask on a stick that is a favorite of florists because it is so easy to add to centerpieces.
MARDI GRAS DOLLS
Mardi Gras dolls fit naturally into the celebration. For the most part, these are jester dolls dressed in purple, gold, and green. The can be sitting dolls, standing dolls, or poseable. Most have white glazed faces and they come in every imaginable size.
MARDI GRAS ACCESSORIES
Perhaps the economic woes of recent years have energized people more to joining into the fun of Mardi Gras. This is a season that culminates in a day of revelry, a fantasy that leaves the everyday worries behind. So if people are going to enjoy Mardi Gras season, they need to dress for the occasion.
Yes, women can don their Mardi Gras jewelry when going out or going to work, but Mardi Gras scarves and handbags add even more to the spirit of the season. Scarves have a print of masks on an ivory background for a classy accessory expressing the spirit.
Slouchy Mardi Gras hobo bags have large purple, gold, and green sequins on a gold knit background. This is a flashy expression for Carnival.
Polo-style Mardi Gras shirts have large bars of purple, gold, and green alternating as they run horizontally across the shirt. The shirts, shown at the top of the blog, are unisex and the colors let onlookers know this all about Mardi Gras.
Now for the guys, Carnival theme neckties let men also get in the act wearing a tie to work with themes from Carnival season. Masks, beads, and comedy/tragedy decorate the neckwear that are conservative enough for the office, yet spread the spirit.
Add some Mardi Gras beads to the selection above and your shop is ready for Mardi Gras. Beads in metallic purple, gold, and green are very popular and the next blog will go into new styles.
Also popular are theme beads—themes like crawfish boil, sea life, fleur-de-lis, nautical, and Americana. Set up a section with a mix of Mardi Gras items and generate some sales in January—a time when business without this celebration is usually slow.
This is the season for the frenzied drive towards Christmas. But if your season was lacking in frenzy, don’t worry because for us as a wholesaler and for many retailers the best comes after Christmas. The year about to begin will be our 28th year in business and for at lest the last 20 of those years the best months of the year were January through May. Why?
EVENTS FOR FEVERISH FASHION JEWELRY & ACCESSORY SALES COMING SOON
Just think of all the great things that happen during those months and most of them relate to something you offer in your shop—something customers really need and you have. It begins with New Years Eve and continues to Mardi Gras, prom, bridal, pageants, dance competition, spring church hats, Easter, Mother’s Day, graduation, and accessories for spring fashion. Almost forgot St. Patrick’s Day, spring festivals and I’m sure there are many more events that are slipping my mind. .
THE GLAMOUR OF RHINESTONE JEWELRY
Did you notice how many of these events call for rhinestone jewelry? Here is a clear winner for the next few months that starts almost immediately with New Years Eve. Every style of rhinestone jewelry fits in this line-up somewhere from dramatic sets for balls and pageant to delicate sets for prom and bridal. Rhinestone jewelry delivers the glamour.
Preparing for New Years Eve is important right now. Demand for glamorous accessories, especially jewelry, often goes unnoticed with so much attention given to gift buying. Even the majors don’t focus on this market. That is why the destination for glamorous jewelry is small business. That is where consumers find everything from lavish to elegant reserve. The rhinestone choker set shown oozes with elegance. It is not only tasteful, but also sparkly thanks to clear rhinestones set in silver plating.
RHINESTONE AND CRYSTAL JEWELRY—WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?
Expand your selection of dazzling necklace sets by also including some crystal jewelry. What is the difference between crystal and rhinestone? The stones are actually the same. The distinction is in the mounting. Crystals are separate stones that glue in place. Whereas for rhinestone, a machine produces it in chain with the stones already set. The chain is spooled and manufacturers buy it and cut it to produce various designs. The picture of rhinestone earrings shown gives a good example of rhinestone jewelry made from the chain.
Vintage jewelry books that show rhinestone jewelry before World War II are showing glued in stones that we often refer to as crystal jewelry today. The reason you don’t see rhinestone jewelry made from the chain in these books is because the invention of the machinery to make it occured during the War.
CREATING IMPACT WITH CRYSTAL NECKLACE SETS
Now back to crystal necklaces. Crystal necklace sets often create lavish designs using dramatic size. How can some of them be so affordable? Often the necklace incorporates acrylic stones for the largest stones in the design. These are synthetics, actually a plastic derivative that has grown leaps and bounds in quality over the last few years. Sparkle has improved in these stones immensely and the cost is a fraction of large crystal stones. Crystals and sometimes rhinestone complete the design resulting in fabulous crystal necklace sets like the one shown.
Everything from necklines to personal preferences determines whether a necklace will accessorize an evening gown. For those that don’t want sets, sparkly earrings are important. This opens another door of opportunity for fashion shops. Consumers want a look that fills their own idea of glamour for New Years Eve. To fill the needs of so many personalities, you need variety—large, small, post, drop, crystal, rhinestone and color. Build a selection with choices from both crystal and rhinestone earrings because the variety will make you the go-to location for the perfect look.
RHINESTONE & CRYSTAL BRACELETS
A casual glance through a fashion magazine tells the story of the importance of bracelets today. In recent years, bracelets have mushroomed in popularity, sometimes according to Accessories Magazine Annual Report leading all types of fashion jewelry for the year. That means a display of New Years Eve jewelry can’t be without them. Shock your clientele with the affordable prices of lavish bracelets today.
While most fashion jewelry has gone up in price, rhinestone has seen a decline. Twenty years ago most rhinestone jewelry was manufactured in the US or Korea. Today manufacturing is mainly in China. Their quality has improved considerably from what rhinestone from China was initially and prices have seen a steep drop. More affordable pricing makes rhinestone and crystal jewelry even more appealing. Expand the selection of these formal bracelets now because they also make excellent Christmas gifts.
NEW YEARS EVE IS ONLY THE BEGINNING
Stocking up glitzy jewelry is not a big risk that depends entirely on sales for New Years Eve. Remember all the events at the beginning of the blog. Several of them call for rhinestone and crystal jewelry. The faster consumers know you have the selection, the better your spring business will be. This is a big part of what makes spring better than Christmas for us and it can be big for you also.
Small business owners are an amazing category of people. Often they face insurmountable odds and still come out on top. Why do we start out this blog with this thought? Because we are in the drive towards Christmas and small business entrepreneurs are facing a host of challenges–competition from big box companies, uncertainty about future business, and questionable government policies. Still these entrepreneurs are undaunted. They truly are survivors.
Already, they have survived the Great Recession. They ignore obstacles and use creativity to drive forward. If you are part of this group, be proud. This industrious class of people creates half the jobs in America. They deserve the support of consumers. This is where shoppers find the unique and unusual gifts and accessories. Small business can react to changes in the market almost instantly so that is where the latest in fashion is also. They cater to the individual and provide many products in demand that are too specialized to concern the majors.
As a wholesaler, we get a feel for the inventory small business is stocking for the Christmas season. Check out these unique items where small business provides the variety and specialized service unavailable at the majors.
Church hats are a favorite gift for many Moms that wear at hat to services on Sunday. They want something special that no one else will be wearing and they want it tailored to their taste. Small business is the only place to trust for this. Usually for Christmas, it is winter dress hats, but sometimes spring hats Christmas gifts since that is the next season. Felts are always popular for winter. Satin braid is also a popular choice and these dress hats transcend seasons so are always in style.
Fascinators have a two hundred year history of going in and out of fashion. Well, the royal wedding certainly put fascinators back on the “in” list. The popularity mushroomed after the wedding and is currently in demand by half the population while the other half is still discovering them. But where are you going to find them in the major retailers. Consumers locate this item in small business.
The first thing after Christmas is New Years. What can be a more useful gift than elegant rhinestone jewelry? Whether consumers are shopping for themselves or for gifts, this jewelry only has wide selections to choose from in small business establishments.
Sure, every department store and men’s shop sells neckties, but what about specialized ties that show thoughtfulness when given as a gift? That’s the kind of tie that the receiver will treasure even if it is never worn. What are we talking about? Ties that go straight to the interests of the person that receives them–ties with a message about the person’s favorite sport, occupation, or any other interest. The gift says, “I know what is dear to you”. These men’s accessories are usually only found in small business establishments.
Fashion scarves are a classy way to accessorize. They add life to an outfit with color and patterns. These scarves can have themes or simply accessorize with patterns. Who specializes in these fashion accessories? Mainly small business. They not only have variety, but they also can give individual help and choosing the right patterns and colors as well as show a person how to wear the scarves. Best of all this classy gift is very affordable.
Yes, these ready-made gifts appeared in department stores, but today they are harder to find. Meanwhile hat/scarf sets have evolved to even more attractive designs. Set include knit tams with pompoms and other designs that incorporate a poof of fur and flat back crystals. Innovation keeps a trend alive and these ready-made gifts have evolved to a new dimension that will grab customers’ attention.
In areas where the fleur-de-lis in meaningful, jewelry and accessories with the royal emblem make wonderful gifts. Louisiana is one of those areas and anything with a fleur-de-lis seems to sell there. Everything from jewelry to accessories stirs interest, but one accessory that makes an especially nice Christmas gift is handbags. Of course, the place to find these accessories is in the local small businesses tht cater to local trade.
We could dedicate pages to fashion jewelry, but we are going to concentrate one item—the oversized cocktail ring with stretch band. This is item took the market by storm, yet is hard to find in the malls or department stores. Accessories Magazine called these rings the sleeper item of the year. The only place to find a nice selection is small business. Even celebrities have this inexpensive fashion jewelry sparkling on their fingers.
The list of unique gifts small business offers is far more extensive, but this selection will at least stir the imagination and shop keepers and consumers alike thinking outside the box.