Learning about wholesale and working with boutiques was a whole new avenue for me once I began interning with Brynn. But my favorite part so far has been when we visited boutiques and we met with the buyers. I love seeing the relationship between buyer and vendor. In school, we always talked about buyers and vendors, but it’s so nice seeing the process in real life. Having an understanding of what the buyer wants, to actually showcasing the bags and seeing what they want to order for the upcoming season months away.
Even though our current boutiques and relationships with them are very important, it’s just as important to search for new potential boutique partners. I try to find five new boutiques for every day that I’m in the office, but five is harder than it sounds. I have to make sure that the boutiques overall look and feel fits with the brand and of course is open to selling our bags. As Brynn always says “it takes contacting 100 stores consistently to get into one,” and unfortunately it is so true.
Brynn reached out to Randoons in Winnetka and Stumble and Relish in Evanston for almost two years before she got meetings with them. Once she got the meetings, they scheduled trunk shows and now both boutiques carry our line. S&R have been carrying our bags for almost a year now and Randoons since Spring. But our Mini-Lauren bags have been best sellers and both are adding the new Cher crossbody (pictured) this fall. Randi and Jaime, are now a huge fans and can be found wearing their favorites!
Our relationships with boutiques are so important, because they allow us to grow our brand in ways online alone can not do. But the market is always changing, so we have to constantly be looking for new sales avenues. It’s no doubt that e-commerce is giving brick and mortar stores a run for their money, but that doesn’t mean they’re obsolete. This past spring one of our favorite boutiques, Spare Parts, with whom we had a great relationship with, ended up closing. Of course this saddened us, but because we have built such a great foundation, we are kept in the loop with where her business is going and will be notified when they open up in a new location.
Then of course, there are boutiques that discover us on their quest for American-made goods! Stars and Stripes Gift Shop in Windham, NH, Picket Fence Interiors and Gifts in North Carolina and Lunarik Fashions in Boston, all reached out to us. It is tough working with boutiques outside of Chicago as they don’t get to see the bags in person before they buy them for the season. We can send swatches and leather, but most tend to rely on our help with best sellers. But once they get to know the brand, it’s fairly easy for them.
Brynn recently went to her first out of town tradeshow in Seattle and was excited to gain a few new boutiques in the pacific northwest. Although she thought about opening up her own boutique, she realized that budgets for growth are better spent on good tradeshows and showrooms. If I have learned one thing this summer, it’s that there is always a next step, no matter what!