I was so excited for my first boutique run with Brynn last week. We had some mid-season orders to drop off and a few new boutiques that we wanted to check out first hand. It makes such a huge difference seeing the boutiques in person vs. online. Jayne boutique has been on our list for a while now, so we were super happy they recently opened a location in the city! Much easier to drop by Lincoln Park vs. a trip out to Highland Park or Lake Geneva.
Our first stop was at Fixture in Roscoe Village. It was awesome being able to visit Fixture, since they have sold our bags since 2009. They are also one of the few stores which carry a large variety of styles. They recently started carrying the new crossbody bag, the Jenne and have embraced suede.
Of course right when we walked in, we were greeted by Henry a sweet but big labradoodle. Fixture had such a warm and welcoming set up. The first thing you saw when walking in was support for local artists by selling their handmade Chicago pride gifts. As I made my way through the store there were lots of things that caught my eye – From the beautiful gold charm necklaces in the jewelry section to the hand blown glass pumpkin decorations in the home goods section. Brynn’s bags were beautifully displayed on a helical fixture, that allowed customers to view all different styles of bags. Walking to the back of the store I stumbled upon the bath, body and candle section. Right away I spotted my favorite candle company that we used to carry at my college job, The SOi Company: Aqua de SOi Candle. So naturally, I had to stop and smell them all; The scents of the candles brought back so many great memories! There was something for everybody here.
Since we were headed up to Transistor in Andersonville, we decided to stop by Hazel in Ravenswood to check on inventory and so I could get more of a feel for the types of boutiques that work best for us.
As soon as I walked into Hazel I spotted some of our handbags in the entrance way. I also noticed that this store had a lot of merchandise in it! Walking through the store I noticed the handbags in a few different places, and mixed in with others. I felt as our handbags stood out and made left an impression. As I continued walking there was a fun display in a glass case of various and interesting jewelry. Some of the featured jewelry was even from artist from around the world. I really enjoyed taking time to observe how the store layout was designed. The space was very open and everything was accessible. Hazel gift had a variety of gifts including accessories, baby gifts, housewares and greeting cards and wrapping paper. I loved seeing other local products such as Rifle Paper Co. and Paper Source being sold here. I have to say my favorite part was the greeting card section in the middle of the store and the beautiful gift wrap in the back of the store.
Each boutique has their own personal vibe and creative store plans, but it definitely gave me a better understanding of what our ideal boutique looks like. While observing these stores I realized even though they are very different, they both carry some products from some of the same companies. I used this to my advantage when looking for new potential boutiques which will definitely help make the research aspect of it easier.
Our last stop was Jayne boutique. The location is perfect since one of our biggest selling boutiques (that was located less than a mile up the road) closed recently, so we were looking for a new partner in the area. Right when we walked in, I felt we would be a great fit for this store as they believe in “an ageless shopping adventure of color, quality, function and style.”
I think the luxury boho style of our bags complement their offerings well. We were able to speak with one of the managers and drop off some postcards for the buyer. I understand sometimes it takes months or even years to get into a new store, but hopefully we made a great impression! Fingers crossed and here’s to hoping!
From working here, I already have a good understanding of the other side of merchandising and buying. I have been focusing on getting attention from boutiques that may be interested in carrying our leather bags.