I just mailed out my paper version of Grass Clippings - I can't believe I am up to Issue #30! The back page of the newsletter makes for a perfect Blog Post, but it is without a picture. I always try to include at least one image in all my blog posts, and am a few days away from getting any new images for Paloma Blanca and Mikaella.
So I decided to begin the blog with a little "blurb" from the front of the newsletter Titled "FAMILY UPDATE" since it included a picture. It has nothing to do with bridal but it's a great updated Family Portrait...
This picture was taken on Christmas Day 2016 in our Family Room. As a quick update, it includes my 4 sons, 2 Daughters-In-Law, and
2 Daughters-In-Law-To-Be, as Dan and Rebecca and Michael and Kelsey both announced their engagements since my last newsletter. By this time next year all 4 of my sons will be married… and there will be (God willing) a 4th healthy grandchild in the next Christmas Grass Family Portrait, as Justin and Kate are expecting their 2nd child in June. The Grass Family is truly blessed!
And now to the "real" blog...
Choosing the “Right” Collections
As a new season approaches, most stores begin to analyze their resources: Who am I carrying? Do I have the right “mix”? What are my brides asking for? Do I need ALL of the lines I am carrying?
I was looking through the latest edition of Brides Magazine yesterday, and something occurred to me. There is so much product out there, and a lot of it looks so similar. Made in China; Approximate retail falling between $1500 and $2500 retail; Approximate lead time for special orders @ 16-20 weeks. We have all been in the business long enough to know which lines I am speaking about. There is Maggie, Allure, Casa, Mori Lee, Justin, Mon Cheri, Pronovias. Within these 7 companies, there are probably close to 30 individual collections to further “complicate” things. My sense is that the average store carries 3 or 4 of these companies, and in many cases more!!! And that doesn't cover the next set of companies like Private Label, Alfred Angelo, Moonlight, Venus, Jasmine, Eddy K, Kitty Chen, etc. To be sure…these are ALL good companies, and worthy of being in the majority of stores in The Northeast, but my question is: “What is the right number?” I would never suggest you drop any specific line, especially since all of the above mentioned companies are very good resources; I'm only suggesting that you may not need all of the companies you are working with… and could service a wider range of brides with a wider range of tastes by diversifying your collections a little bit. And when you factor in the minimums for each division each season, it's no wonder stores are swimming in excess inventory, and are regularly asking me "How can I get rid of some of my discontinued samples?”
Paloma Blanca and Mikaella - A Different Kind of Company “Howard, do you have any suggestions for an alternative to all of this overlap you reference in the above paragraph?” you ask. It just so happens that I do... and I happen to represent it! Paloma Blanca and Mikaella offer just such an alternative. Manufactured in our own factory in Toronto, Canada - we offer any style, any size, and any color in 8 weeks (if need be) with no rush fee, and offer 5-7 week shipping with a small rush fee. (We can even do better in some cases). This type of delivery is virtually unheard of from any of the above-mentioned companies. We are known for using better fabrics and laces, and are known for our quality, construction and fit. We also offer a different look than these lines... "clean", "simple", "traditional", and "sophisticated" are some of the words I hear used to describe Paloma Blanca and Mikaella’s designs. We offer a myriad of custom changes... both from a design standpoint as well as some "alteration friendly" custom changes - including split sizing.
Please understand that I am in no way suggesting that you drop all of your lines and become a Paloma Blanca/Mikaella flagship store. Stores need a variety of looks within this $1500 - $2500 price point, and there are brides out there who love the more ornate beading that the Chinese factories can do at a great price; which is why virtually all of the North American companies have closed down their factories over the past 25 years and moved all of their production to the Orient. At the time it seemed like the smart business decision, and maybe it was for the short term. But Marty decided to “stay put”, modernize his factory in Toronto with the latest computerized technology, and implement the best customer service department in our industry. Stores have become used to telling their brides that the dress they love is not available to her because she is getting married in 3-4 months; or that they need to wait 3 days to get an answer about a custom change because they need to email China and wait for a response. These brides end up leaving the store and disappear into the "great black hole" where potential brides disappear into when they leave your store and tell you they will be back. No need for this to happen with us with us; you can quote an 8-week ship date to your Paloma bride without even checking with us. And if you need to know whether we can raise the neckline 2 inches on a particular Mikaella style… you can call us and we will give an answer while the bride is still in the store.
No… don't drop all of your other lines. But be smart about what you are carrying. Choose a few of the imported lines who offer the best service, and maybe even carry a 2nd division that they offer because is makes sense. Unless you are a super store doing millions of dollars of volume and feel like you HAVE to have every line out there, I suggest you choose wisely and consolidate your resources. If you are not carrying Paloma Blanca and/or Mikaella and any of this resonates with you... give me a call. If you already carry us, then you know exactly what I mean; why we are known as the "Yes Company", and why we end up being your favorite resource to work with.
Whichever companies you choose to carry this season, I wish you Health and Happiness. Peace and Love, H