The news is full of major retailing chains closing stores – or closing their doors completely. Just here in El Paso, the Sunland Park Macy’s was one of more than a hundred marked for closure and across the street, the long-time Sports Authority store closed when the whole chain was liquidated. Yet unemployment has been down and salaries have been creeping up the last couple of years. So what is going on?
A piece posted on TheAtlantic.com in April – “What in the World Is Causing the Retail Meltdown of 2017?” – garnered a lot of attention in our industry. “The reality is that overall retail spending continues to grow steadily, if a little meagerly,” wrote Derek Thompson, one of The Atlantic’s senior editors. “But several trends—including the rise of e-commerce, the over-supply of malls, and the surprising effects of a restaurant renaissance—have conspired to change the face of American shopping.”
If spending hasn’t come to a halt, what do customers want outside of e-commerce? With all of today’s technology, people do not want to become simply robotic consumers. We still need to recognize the “human element.” One takeaway: Since it is easy to get so many needs taken care of at the click of the cursor, consumers have developed into more discerning shoppers.
In many ways, the act of purchasing is an expression of identity. According to Boston Consulting Group, BCG Perspectives, “millennials are changing the face of marketing forever.” In the U.S., 50% of 18- to 34-year-olds believe that the brands they endorse “reflect their personal character and values.” When they do shop in person and not online, they want a unique experience and unique products appropriate to their lifestyle.
My friend and retail guru Doug Fleener says shoppers want three things;
- A “curated” product mix. Today’s inventories should reflect a point of view and a lifestyle. For instance, my store has recently changed its product mix to reflect a new take on fashion. We see that women want relaxed fashion that is still put-together with an element of luxury. More than ever, today’s consumer puts together her own look to express her unique personality.
Women in particular like products with historical and emotional connections. Take for instance jewelry by Temple St. Clair, who designs with an artist’s eye and explorer’s heart. She uses gold and rare colored gems to illustrate universal narratives of the earth and cosmos. Unique and authentic resonates with today’s consumer who can be overloaded with tech.
Customers also seek out items that are interesting and one-of-a kind for their home. In our new home and gift area, for instance, we have onyx items that came from a mine where intense heat from an adjacent volcano created unusual variations. Rich colors and patterns in the onyx pieces ooze a sense of earthy beauty that only Mother Nature can create.
- A more personal store brand. Fleener says that stores that are succeeding today “are much more than simply a storefront with a name.” He notes that they’re a very personal brand in their community. Customers feel a real affinity for the business and its staff, and shop there to support c the local community. El Paso is a distinctive, unique city where people embrace its special culture and support its businesses.
- A personal shopping experience.Successful store have highly engaged customers and a staff of associates who see their primary responsibility as building relationships. Associates get to know their customers’ tastes and become their personal shoppers.
Temple St. Claire “tolomeo” pendant
Encircled by a stunning array of multicolored sapphire and tsavorite stones, a sapphire cabochon gleams at the center of this magnificent 18-karat-gold pendant finished with petite diamonds
What woman does not have a whole variety of hoop earrings in her jewelry box? It’s safe to say that the earring that has always been in style will definitely be the hoop. From ancient times to today, an infinite variety of hoop earrings have been worn and hoops are still one of the most wearable pieces of jewelry.
Think about it: The different elements that a jewelry designer can play with in a hoop earring are endless. Among those variables are the size, the thickness, the metal or other material, the shape – circle, oval, tear-drop and so on – the accessories dangling from it and the huge variety of colors, sizes and shapes of the stones.
The most sought-after earring with stones is the diamond hoop, with one or two rows of diamonds sparkling on the outside of the hoop. Then you also have the trendy inside-out diamond hoop with diamonds on the outside on the front of the hoop, and on the inside of the back of the hoop.
No matter what your chose, hoop earrings can be worn for day or night, for fun or formal. They go with any outfit and any hairstyle. Earring size will vary, depending on your mood and the occasion. Large hoops – more than a couple of inches in diameter – can provide a bold, playful statement, for sure. Small hoops can be feminine and even dainty.
Some celebrities are even known for their hoop earrings. Princess Diana was seen in hoop earrings in many photographs, and Jennifer Lopez is known for wearing big hoops. Who can forget Oprah Winfrey’s big diamond hoops? When customers walk into a jewelry store asking for a J-Lo hoop or the Oprah diamond hoop, salespeople immediately know what they’re talking about.
Hoops are everywhere, from Harry Winston catalogs to top-10 lists of mistake-proof items every woman should own. Today the hoop is evolving into something that can transform your jewelry wardrobe into endless possibilities with new charms and interchangeable options.
Designer Jude Frances has certainly played with the evolution of hoops, with updated oval shapes and ways to decorate hoops to showcase your individuality and creativity. The latest trend is to transform your hoops even further into an elegant evening look with the addition of a “frame” hanging from the hoop to accentuate the dangling charms.
Whether you are planning a play date at the zoo or going to a glamorous gala, the hoop will always be a great choice. Now’s the time to update your earring wardrobe and explore new options for this perennial favorite.
Everyone, and I do mean everyone, assumes that my trips to various apparel and jewelry markets are fun and glamorous. Nothing could be further from the truth.Instead, buying trips are full of early morning to late evening appointments, squeezing in seeing every last thing in a limited amount of time, negotiations with recalcitrant vendors, stressing out about which merchandise selections are the most saleable, and feet that are throbbing.
Trips to market can be exciting and energizing, but they have never been luxurious or glamorous. Until now.
Last week thousands of jewelry vendors, buyers, designers, manufacturers, reporters and all kinds of jewelry-related service firms gathered in Las Vegas for two trade shows: the upscale, smaller Couture Show at the Wynn and the enormous JCK Show in the Mandalay Bay convention hall.
This trip with the Tres Mariposas fine jewelry staff – Bobbie Baldridge, Carmen Bagby and Flori Trudeau – had all the delights missing from ordinary buying trips.
First, we stayed at the Encore Resort and Hotel, next door to its sister resort, the Wynn. Encore has been awarded AAA’s Five Diamond Award every year since opening.
Small business entrepreneurs like me usually watch their budget and try to keep travel expenses under control, which means five-star hotels are not usually on the menu.
However, the Couture Show put us up at the Encore as their guest! Just being in this beautiful and luxurious environment made us feel like royalty.
In addition, we stayed a day longer than usual on this annual Las Vegas market trip. So we had the bonus of not being stressed from the usual hurry, hurry, hurry.Some of the designer lines that we like set up shop in posh Wynn villas. At the John Hardy villa, they treated us to an alfresco lunch beside a private pool with a panoramic view. With a slight breeze in our faces and delicious food in front of us, we leaned back and said, “Ah, yes, this is the way market was always supposed to be!”
We were also invited to special parties. Our first night was a party with Ivanka Trump, principal of Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry. Like many celebrities, she has even more star presence in person. Ivanka is 5 feet, 11 inches tall – before her 3 ½-inch heels – and stunningly gorgeous.
The party was at one of the Wynn clubs that was located at the base of the large curtain waterfall. Again, I felt the spell of the good life. Ivanka’s children are learning to speak Mandarin Chinese, as are my two grandchildren who live in Bangkok. It was fun to chat about something in common.
A jewelry designer we adore these days is Emily Armenta. Famous for her “Old World meets hip” jewelry, Emily is a down-to-earth person who has a passion for helping women, as well as designing jewelry.
As was the trend with many at the Couture Show, Emily wore a well-cut, interesting black dress that spotlighted her jewelry. I admire Emily’s creativity, business talent and work to empower women.
While Emily was taking an entrepreneurship class at Rice University, she was given an assignment to create a fictitious company and write a business plan. Little did she know the assignment would become her life’s work.
Tres Mariposas has carried the highly successful jewelry line Ippolita for many years, but this trip brought my first time to meet Ippolita Rostagno. The famous Italian designer and artist pioneered the fine jewelry industry’s transition to blend contemporary trends with traditional techniques and styles. Upon meeting her, I immediately felt Ippolita’s energy, strength and dynamism.
The jewelry industry is always experiencing transition. A personal favorite jewelry line is Jude Frances, known for youthful femininity. The company had been a collaboration between Jude Steele and Frances Gadbois, but now Jude and Frances each have their own lines. A native of London, Frances has a new line called Sloane Street.
Here again is a beautiful, creative and strong woman pursuing her passion. In her new venture, she often invites women to bring in older, dated jewelry that they no longer wear. Frances sketches new ideas and re-makes the piece and stones into contemporary classics.
While this is not a new idea – any of us can take our old stuff to a jeweler – rarely is there the opportunity to access this level of talent for private design. Frances is looking forward to visiting El Paso in September, so be thinking of your older pieces that can become new treasures.
When we boarded the plane back to El Paso, we had a unique sensation: We worked hard to accomplish our buying goals and found many fabulous pieces to share with El Paso women, but we also felt like we had been on vacation! Now that’s a great market trip!
I am delighted to welcome a guest columnist today: Gesuina Legaspy, contemporary and special occasion buyer at Tres Mariposas. We’re back from a very productive buying trip and I asked her to identify trends and designers to watch for in the coming year. Here’s the first half of this two-part series.Nan Napier
The best part of being a buyer at Tres Mariposas is – well, the buying trips – particularly the trips to New York City. My most recent visit, just the week before last, was marked by 9-degree weather, vintage bags and of course, fashion.
We’re gearing up for spring in the Sun City, but the fashion industry is looking ahead to our autumnal wardrobe. However, some of the trends, designers and delicious items that I saw in New York already inform your 2015 wardrobe:
• Go forward with fringe: Trends, by definition, fade away as quickly they’re introduced. Not fringe. Fringe is stronger than ever, with its versatile appeal on handbags, evening gowns, apparel and even shoes!
In the fall, we will be seeing fringed cashmere cardigans from Repeat and Central Park West, and fringe on supple leather handbags we ordered from a line called B-Low the Belt. Fringe forward and keep wearing it, because fringe is not going anywhere.
• Jonathan Simkhai: Jonathan Simkhai is a New York-based designer who was introduced to Tres Mariposas by our New York buyer, Lucie Jordan. She was right on by leading us to his showroom in 2014. We loved the collection and carry it in the store now, and it’s very exciting to see how this up-and-coming designer is now everywhere, seen on celebrities like Chanel Iman, Jennifer Lopez, Alessandra Ambrossio and Gigi Haddid.
Legions of Hollywood “It Girls” have been seen in Jonathan Simkhai, and I am proud to feature the collection at our store. The only thing better than the line itself is its price point – super affordable.
• Jewelry trends, my favorite: I am a minimalist when it comes to fashion jewelry, but I can assure you that these trends will have me decked out! Edgy, eye-catching pieces like body chains, hand chains and ear cuffs will be everywhere this year.
Tres Mariposas owner Nan Napier and co-buyer Bobbie Baldridge discovered a new line called Goldish that makes necklaces that can also be worn as 14-karat gold hand chains, which are combination bracelets and rings.
This fresh and fun trend is a great way to play with fashion and an inexpensive way to try something different. The best part is that you can mix it all together; these pieces look even better when worn together to create a statement outfit.
• Midi-dresses/skirts: The longer the better! This look is called “The Midi,” referring to a hemline below the knee and above the ankle, a nod to the 1960s and ‘70s.
There are endless ways to wear this style. Pair midi dresses with tall boots or heels and midi skirts with anything from a basic t-shirt to a crop top. Midi styles can be pencil shaped, A-line or circular.
• Vintage handbags: Until now, it was impossible to purchase a Chanel, Celine or Louis Vuitton handbag in El Paso.
Three years ago at our Fashion’s Night Out event, we hosted a Vintage Chanel Trunk Show. We were surprised to find that our vintage friends carry not only vintage Chanel, but many other brands as well!
“Vintage?” you might ask. Doesn’t that mean they’ve been used? Not necessarily.
Vintage handbags aren’t always pre-worn; in some cases, the bags may have been an older style, gifted and never used, or worn once or twice and in impeccable condition.
Nan, Bobbie and I handpicked each bag while we were in New York, ensuring all classic styles are still available at regular price in the designer retail stores, and in pristine condition.
Each bag is certified and inspected, and less than the original price!
Stay tuned next week for more fashion news from New York!
To stay ahead in the retail industry, owners of all kinds of stores work to keep up with the latest new products in their field. No matter what you’re selling, you need to stay apprised of trends in your niche – and be ready to tell your customers about them.
In the world of fashion, new trends are what inspire us and keep our jobs fun. We are always curious about what’s coming down the pipeline from Parisian runway to Dallas showrooms, from visionary couture to reasonably priced ready-to-wear.
It’s not enough to just name a trend to a customer; we retailers need to understand that trend and know how a new trend can make a customer look great. I can’t speak for retailers in other industries, but in the fashion world, we often watch presentations by designers who talk about new trends and then share it among ourselves in the store.
Last week, two of our younger “fashionistas” held a fall trend presentation for the staff and it was excellent. We’d love to share their fall 2014 recommendations with you.
Fall 2014 Trends List
Chunky Knits: Fall’s favorite sweater can be dressed up or down. Heavy knits paired with J Brand skinny jeans and booties are an effortless yet chic way to wear this trend. For the more fashion forward: pair your chunky knit sweaters with dressier pieces like pencil skirts and kitten heels.
Shades of Grey: Grey is the new neutral. Worn monochromatic or paired with blush, black, or white separates, grey is becoming a staple in contemporary style. This fall we’re seeing everything in grey: handbags, shoes, tops, and, of course, denim. Grey is a color storm that should not be taken lightly.
The New Pant: The choice for fall pants styles all depend on the consumer. Thanks to the vast difference between our trendy jogger pants and the classic skinny, your pant game can go either way. The main focus on the pant trend is to keep in mind proportion and body type.
Fringe: The one word that describes this trend is IMPACT. From bags to cardigans, fringe is the overstated accessory that every it-girl has her hand in. Depending on your level of comfort in the trend, it can be as subtle as a fringed cardigan or as dramatic as a cropped fringe vest or fringed cross-body bag.
Shoulder Bags: Shoulder bags used to be classified as ladylike quilted bags. This season the shoulder bag is also offered with tomboy qualities. Spacious and easy to tug around, the shoulder bag is giving the backpack a run for its money.
Statement Earrings: While certainly dramatic, these decadent baubles are also festive and elegant. Statement earrings offer a modern way to energize just about any look imaginable. For the more fashion-forward, an ear cuff is the way to go.
Chunky Heels/Booties: Fall’s favorite shoe offers major elevation along with a reassuring sense of stability. Rag and Bone booties return season after season and project that sort of off-duty cool that iconic fashion models carry off so well – and yet are as comfortable as flats. More looks here:
The Friends of FEMAP (Federación Mexicana de Asociaciones Privadas) Annual Gala is one of the most successful El Paso social events due to passionate support on both sides of the border. This year’s gala will be September 26 at the El Paso Convention Center. I can’t wait to see how the amazing volunteers turn the Convention Center into a Brazillian Carnival Extravaganza. It promises to be a color explosion.
FEMAP has an amazing track record in its mission to raise the quality of life among people living in poverty. Over the years, the group has raised funds to develop and run many life-saving services in Juarez, including two full-service inpatient hospitals and a nursing school. They have implemented numerous community-based programs to promote health, children and adolescent’s emotional and physical development, and economic growth through a micro-finance program.
I have always marveled at FEMAP’s gritty determination to serve. Adolpho Telles, president of the FEMAP Foundation board, describes his first visit six years ago to the neonatal intensive care unit and seeing blanket-covered wooden fruit boxes with lights to keep babies warm because the unit’s equipment couldn’t keep up with the number of patients.
In addition to its annual fundraising efforts, FEMAP leaders are conducting a capital campaign to raise $15 million to add hospital rooms and help build a new facility for the School of Nursing in Juarez. Generous and compassionate people in El Paso and Juarez have continued to donate money and services to keep up.
Last week, Tres Mariposas hosted a Pre-FEMAP Gala cocktails and dress viewing party and donated 15 percent of sales to FEMAP’S capital campaign. It was fun to witness the energy, excitement, and merriment of FEMAP supporters. We had quite a lively time: ladies having so much fun trying on special dresses and best friends goading each other on to experiment with new styles.
Some women went for some of this year’s special occasion trends, such as fabulous laces, ruffle backs, exposed zippers, illusion sides or back. Emerald green is a hot color this year and some of our ladies looked fabulous in today’s neutral lighter colors. Other women were drop-dead gorgeous in red. It was interesting that I heard several women say they just really feel the most comfortable in black – and they looked great, too.
By the way, no need to drive home after dancing all night at the FEMAP Gala. The Double Tree Hotel nearby the Convention Center is offering a special rate so you can stay the night.
9th Annual Friends of FEMAP International Gala
Friday, September 26, 2014, 7:00 p.m.
El Paso Convention Center
$150 per person $1,750 table for ten
Portions of the ticket cost are tax deductible
CLICK TO SEE THE GOWNS!
Look at all the necklaces in your jewelry box. If you’re curious, you can categorize them by the traditional lengths: the chokers (16 inches long), the “princess necklaces” (18 to 20 inches long), the “matinee necklaces” (22 to 23 inches long), and, of course, the “opera necklaces” (30 to 35 inches long).Now look to see if you have any of this spring’s hottest necklaces – the “bib necklace.” It’s a funny label, but it gets its name because it sits higher on your neck and it can have the shape of a baby’s bib. It’s close to your neck, but can have added rows of beads down the front or other jewels cascading down from the neck.
Bib necklaces are often ornately jeweled and a bit over the top. It’s that over-the-top quality that makes it a perfect accessory for otherwise simple, clean outfits. This season, it’s the accessory that takes an ordinary outfit to an outstanding look.
If a statement necklace like this feels a little intimidating at first, get out of your comfort zone by first wearing a bib necklace with a black t-shirt. As you get more confident, wear a bib necklace with bright colors and try it with a crazy printed maxi dress. Then wear one on bare skin such as with an evening dress for ultimate impact. It’s wonderful how these necklaces can flatter your face and your figure.Pair your bib necklace with simple earrings if you are the understated type. Mix it with elaborate earrings if you want a more gypsy-glam look. However you wear it or whatever you wear it with, enjoy this spring’s hottest trend!
One of the most wonderful parts of getting to know more about some of today’s top new jewelry designers is that so many of them have such interesting stories as they struggled to succeed and build their businesses. One of the most interesting jewelry designers of our time has to be a woman who doesn’t need to work: that is Ivanka Trump, daughter of billionaire Donald Trump.
She’s a fascinating young woman, born with more than the usual advantages and/or burdens. While most of us think of being super-rich, beautiful, 5’11” and blonde as an advantage, it could be that living life in a fishbowl, having a famous dad that many people don’t even like, and facing immense preconceptions anytime you meet someone could be a burden.
Somehow this child of privilege avoided the pitfalls of drug abuse, reckless partying and other destructive self-indulgences that many in her situation fall prey to. Instead become a successful woman in her own right.
I have followed Ivanka more closely since Tres Mariposas expanded our fine jewelry business last year. She graduated summa cum laude from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. At only 32, this former runway and print model is a writer, mother of two adorable young children, and executive vice president of development and acquisitions at The Trump Organization.
Her life took a different direction in 2007 when she founded her own line of fine jewelry in 2007 and opened her first flagship retail store on Madison Avenue.
Far from being a plaything of the idle rich, her line is exquisite, saleable fine jewelry that appeals to confident American women. As our jewelry business has grown, we had the opportunity to choose among the best and the finest fine jewelry lines consistent with our focus on fashion and quality, and Ivanka Trump Jewelry fit our criteria.
Much of Trump’s jewelry line is inspired by her passion for travel, architecture and design. One of her most popular collections at Tres Mariposas has been the “Metropolis Collection.” This line of 18kt yellow gold and diamond jewelry was inspired by 1920s Art Deco architecture in Ivanka’s favorite metropolis, New York.
So how does she pull all of this off? I got a glimpse of what drives her from her book, “The Trump Card: Playing to Win in Work and Life,” published in 2009. As with most people, when they describe what influences shaped them, it was family expectations. “In the Trump household, it was never just about meeting the expectations of others,” she wrote. “It was about exceeding them. It was about surprising people.”
For instance, she describes being incredibly apprehensive before a board meeting, knowing she would be in the company of middle-aged men who saw her as young and inexperienced. As she became accustomed to being underestimated, she made it an advantage.
Now, when asked about not being taken seriously because of her family name and her beauty, she responds as she did in a Forbes.com interview, “Bring it on.”
In the same interview she shared her top three style tips for women at work: context, modesty and femininity. “If you work in a law firm, you can’t wear the same thing you would wear if you worked at an ad agency,” she said. “Understand what is appropriate for your industry and in terms of how much skin is being shown.”
She went on to say how much her own style of dressing has changed at work. “My office style has changed pretty drastically, and a lot of it became being comfortable with expressing femininity in a way that, when I was younger, I was nervous about,” she added. “I was almost afraid to be feminine on the job, which in retrospect was probably a mistake. I wear pink to the office now, whereas when I was 22, I was nervous to wear anything other than a black pinstripe suit.”
I’m guessing that whatever she wears these days, she makes it all look better when she adds her beautiful jewelry!
Men ask me this all the time, Sigmund Freud asked it, and probably every great thinker since Socrates asked it. What do women want? What in the world can a guy give a girl that she will be sure to like?
Successful gift giving can be a challenge for men. Women don’t hide it well when they are less than thrilled with a gift.
At the Tres Mariposas Men’s Night this week, I decided to ask a few of the men there about this issue. Here’s what they say about gifts that have won the hearts of the women in their lives.
Dr. Bruce Applebaum: “My most successful gift was a puppy when my wife and I got engaged — an adorable German Shepherd. I haven’t been as successful in other categories of gifts!”
Michael Zimprich: “I’m planning for my most successful gift to be the one I’m going to give her next week. I can’t divulge what it is of course, or it will spoil the surprise. I try to get things she would not buy for herself – luxury and higher end items. Christmas means a lot to her so I try to get her something nice she’s been wanting. Guys sometimes forget until the last minute. I try to watch and listen all year when I’m out shopping with her and then I go back.”
I like Michael’s perspective; sometimes I think women just want to be listened to! And there’s a message here for women here in our community – your men are trying hard to please you, so keep your smile on no matter what you receive Christmas morning. Remember, you can invariably exchange it if you need to!