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Archive for the 'Mardi Gras Masks' Category...

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
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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. 

 1) LOCATION

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. 

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Thursday, February 2nd, 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 Masks
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 The familiar colors of Mardi Gras–purple, gold, and green–show up every Carnival season in every kind of Mardi Gras item, but this year they are making a big hit in Mardi Gras masks

Many are already familiar with the vibrant color of Mardi Gras feather masks, especially the marabou masks with a full fluff of feathers brilliantly displaying purple, green, and yellow for gold.  These masks are still extremely important for gift shops and event planners because they offer such a bargain for a fabulous look.  Shops that stock these masks by the dozen, can sell them under $4.95 and be very profitable. 

The most popular feather mask remains a sequin mask mounted on a stick with a spray of ostrich and coque feathers on one side (VM81).  Year in and year out, this remains the number one Mardi Gras mask.  The second most popular is VM82, the same masks with elastic strings instead of a stick.  Especially the mask on a stick is extremely popular with florist because adding them to an arrangement makes easy Mardi Gras centerpieces.

 

Shops that need very inexpensive Mardi Gras masks for impulse items have a great option in the masquerade masks, MM10.  These eye masks come in three solid colors (purple, gold, and green) and the colors come evenly divided in a pack for shops buying by the dozen. 

Venetian masks have been rising in popularity over the last few years and design haven’t ignored Mardi Gras, perhaps the biggest masked event of the year.  One of the first Mardi Gras Venetian masks is the full-face joker mask.  Everybody recognizes this face that appears in every deck of cards.  Actually, inspiration for this character is the crafty servant, Arlecchino, from the Italian comedy that finds its roots in the Renaissance. 

The joker masks are made with paper mache’ like the artisans of Venice use in mask making.  It fits the face and also makes a great wall hanging.  Bargain priced, the joker mask needs to be in your selection of Mardi Gras items because it makes such a great souvenir to take home.  

Its Venetian style masks that provide the fabulous new designs this season.  Purple, gold, and green return in an exciting way to masks.  Sparkly color creates diamond-shape patterns in masks on a stick.  For centuries, this pattern has been tied to the Commedia dell’arte, the Italian Comedy.  The diamond-pattern represents patchwork clothing of the poor servant, Arlecchino.  Dyed marabou and ostrich feathers top the mask in Mardi Gras colors. 

Another popular pattern introduced in Venetian style masks this season is tiger stripe.  Again, purple, gold, and green form the pattern that is anew artist’s conception this season.  One eye-catching design has an eye mask that spikes up on one side in a flame-like design with dyed ostrich and marabou feathers adhering to the same side. 

Mardi Gras masks are grabbing customers’ attention this season with innovation.  There is still nearly a month left before Fat Tuesday so stock your shop now and get ready for the revelers.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Tuesday, February 15th, 2011