Question of the season: What do women want?

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.

 

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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!”

 

Jesus Canaba2Jesus Canaba:  “The best gift I’ve ever given was a watch.  Why did she love it so much?  Because of the little diamonds.  She was really into diamonds.”

 

Gene Carrejo2Gene Carrejo: “Jewelry from Ippolita.  She wears the earrings and necklaces all the time!”

Howard Smith2Howard Smith:   “Jewelry is always a winner.  Women just love bling.”

Michael Zimprich2Michael 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!

 

New season, new surroundings, new venture!

This coming week brings a special business milestone for me: a new store within our store. Any small-business owner – or large business owner, for that matter – can relate when I say it’s both exciting and a little un-nerving when you dream of something new and you watch it come to fruition.

To back up, earlier this year, after a lot of thought, I decided to move forward with a business expansion opportunity: a fine jewelry boutique. It was a natural progression for our mission to dress women on the Border in style from head to toe.

Tres Mariposas has been under construction much of this summer to build this new boutique within our store’s footprint and it’s finally coming together. We’ve torn up our store and are putting in designer display areas to create an amazing fine jewelry environment for customers.  We’ve debated about perfect lighting, about interesting wall textures, about just-right pieces to go in the cases.

However, as I write this, I confess I am a tad nervous about whether everything will be finished in time for our grand opening this Wednesday!  But hey, if you don’t plan a party or special event, you’ll never get finished, right?

The building project is only a part of the picture, though. The key components: people and product. My to-do list is long, but I can check these off with pleasure:

  • We hired Carmen and Flori, two fabulous associates with serious fine jewelry expertise and experience.  They have integrated seamlessly into our retail environment that emphasizes teamwork.
  • We went to the world’s largest jewelry market/show in Las Vegas in June, and carefully selected top designers to carry.  In every industry with designer lines, you can’t just pick what you want and buy it.  The vendor decides if you are      “worthy enough to carry their product.” You see all kinds of jockeying for different designers in the prestige jewelry world.  We are thrilled to be launching with some really gorgeous jewelry from Ivanka Trump, Yvel, Carrera & Carrera, and Cassis, in addition to best-selling lines from Ippolita, Jude Frances, and others that we already carry.

Needless to say I have robbed my “Retirement Piggy Bank” to invest dollars in personnel, boutique build-out and expensive inventory, but I’ve never been one to stick to the status quo when an exciting new opportunity presents itself.

We’re in the countdown now. We’ve got jewelry trunk shows for four days and lots of festivities from September 11 -14. Drop in and see what it can look like when you dream of new changes – and your dreams come true!

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My Charmed Life

Have you ever thought of your jewelry box or jewelry collection as representing your life story? A biography in a box if you will.

I just finished reading “My Charmed Life: Rocky Romances, Precious Family Connections and Searching for a Band of Gold,” by Beth Bernstein. In this new book, Beth recounts that her fascination with jewelry began at a very young age. She grew up to work in the jewelry industry.

“I believed in wholeheartedly in the transformative power of jewelry – how it made me feel more regal and glamorous, changing me from a shy, ordinary girl into a shimmering princess from a faraway land,” she writes. She says she hopes her book “will appeal to women who have fallen in love, felt loss, learned to start over again and have been transformed by the enchanting power of jewelry.”

As she came into midlife, she realized that her life was a collection of memories represented by various pieces of jewelry. “All of the precious keepsakes in my jewelry box reveal part of my history: not just material possessions but sparkling memories that link together the family, friends and romances that inspired me to write this book,” she writes.

In a recent interview in “Accent” magazine, Beth reports that since her book was published, many women have written her about what their jewelry means to them and, sometimes, what jewelry meant to their mothers. In a way, mothers and daughters have shared jewelry boxes, after daughters inherit important pieces, for instance.

“Almost everyone who wrote mentioned the relevance certain pieces have to significant moments in their lives: the exciting time they got their ears pierced or the magical moment they were first given jewelry by a buy,” she writes. “Women have told me about the pain of selling their jewelry after a divorce, the joy of receiving their engagement ring, the bittersweet memories conjured up by their mom’s charm bracelet.”

I think most of us can relate to the emotional significance of jewelry. One of my favorite pieces of jewelry is a crystal cross that belonged to my mother. My mother and I shared a love of crosses. Although it is not an expensive piece, I always get compliments when I wear it. And I always love saying, “It was my mother’s.”

I must confess that as the book continues, Beth gets a little heavy on the portion of the subtitle, “Searching for a Band of Gold.” I couldn’t keep up with the descriptions of all the gorgeous Adonis-like boyfriends. It became a little repetitive that decade after decade; the author was so focused on finding a husband. I read on though, sure that by the end of the book Mr. Right would have appeared to put a ring on her finger. Not so!

Instead, Beth finds redemption in another way – a way many women eventually find peace of mind – that she is content as herself, without Prince Charming. This breakthrough comes when Beth realizes that she can purchase her own jewelry. Life doesn’t have to be about waiting for a man to serve up life to you on a platter or in this case, in a jewelry box. As the book jacket says, “she realizes that the brightest gems are the ones you give yourself, and finds freedom she never thought possible.”

Wise words for today’s women. Give this exercise a try: go through your jewelry box and look for those pieces that carry memories of people, places, and events. You might even think about buying special pieces to give to your loved ones so that they will carry on happy memories of you! "My Charmed Life"

Fashion Forecast: Notes from New York Market

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As I wrote last week, I’ve been to market in New York City twice this spring; our second trip took us to the annual spring Fashion Coterie at Jacob Javits Convention Center.   This is a huge show of women’s apparel from some 5,000 exhibitors spread out over a half a million square feet. With about 20,000 buyers and other industry attendees, this is a busy place during its three-day run every February.

The fashion industry categorizes apparel according to price point, with labels starting at mass market (or budget) and moving up through moderate, private label (a department store brand such as Charter Club at Macy’s), contemporary, better, secondary lines (such as Marc by Marc Jacobs), bridge, designer, and lastly, couture. The Coterie offers clothes in the better, bridge, and designer categories.

We like to shop the Coterie because of its incredible variety of designers, all vying to become the next big thing. Unless you are a real industry insider or a “Women’s Wear Daily” reporter or something, you will have never heard of the vast majority of the exhibitors filling the shared showrooms and major spaces.

What we want to do is discover the best of these new names while keeping the well-known designers our customers love. That’s what I like about the whole buying process – that combination of fresh and familiar, talent search and tradition.

We also like the Coterie because it provides a great preview of trends, both new and continuing. Here are some pieces and places that caught my.

 

Studded leather accessories, such as this geometrically interesting bag, continue even bigger going forward.

Studded leather accessories, such as this geometrically interesting bag, continue even bigger going forward.

 

Ippolita offers a more delicate version of a cuff bracelet: rows of different hammered silver bangles stacked for a rich look.

Ippolita offers a more delicate version of a cuff bracelet: rows of different hammered silver bangles stacked for a rich look.

 

It's the season of the wrist. Some women are giving in to cuff mania and enjoying a wide variety of statement bracelets.

It’s the season of the wrist. Some women are giving in to cuff mania and enjoying a wide variety of statement bracelets.

 

As we saw at the Kate Spade showroom, pointy-toe pumps are on their way back. After all the platforms of recent years, feminine single-sole shoes are gaining in popularity.

As we saw at the Kate Spade showroom, pointy-toe pumps are on their way back. After all the platforms of recent years, feminine single-sole shoes are gaining in popularity.

 

Alice and Olivia is one of the hottest lines around. Their show space at the Coterie was buzzing.

Alice and Olivia is one of the hottest lines around. Their show space at the Coterie was buzzing.

 

Thousands of people pour through the entrance into the massive Jacob Javits Center each day during the Coterie show.

Thousands of people pour through the entrance into the massive Jacob Javits Center each day during the Coterie show.