Fun at Market: Good times in NYC and Dallas

DallasNYC

I’ve been on the go lately and have had an unusually fun time seeing what’s new and exciting at market.

Two weeks ago I was in New York, combining pleasure with work. My husband Sammy and I went a couple of days early for a Broadway play, great dining, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and lunch with some El Pasoans transplanted to New York. Nothing beats experiencing all the best of New York.

Then last week, I was in Dallas for a couple of days. I don’t go to every market with our buyers, but I am especially drawn to Dallas because of the information we gather as members of the “prestigious Retail Advisory Board, selected by Dallas Market Center management and exhibitors to provide valuable feedback on the industry and how markets can better serve retailers.”

While some claim this is a “prestigious board,” the real reason for attendance is to reconnect and laugh with longtime industry friends, have a great meal with wine and see what tips we can gather from our retail peers about hot sellers and innovative practices.

Patty and Bobbie

Among those friends from around the Southwest is Patty Hoffpauir, owner of The Garden Room in Austin, who thought it was cute to give me bunny ears in a photo with the dinner’s special guest, Rawlins Gilliland! By the way, when you are in Austin, do stop by The Garden Room, which is a wonderful women’s boutique.

This board meeting didn’t fail to entertain. The Market Center had invited Gilliland to share his insights on this year’s holiday gift items. Gilliland scours the market so he can share his finds with retailers on the wonderful private tours he leads through the various vendors.Nan, Rawlins and devilish Patty

Gilliland is an interesting guy. He started his retail career with Neiman Marcus where he was named top salesperson and eventually earned the title of National Director of Sales and Product. He helped create and direct Neiman’s amazing personal shopping program. Since 1999, he has been a consultant to the wholesale and retail industry, specializing in market buying and sourcing for specialty stores and small businesses.

Nan and Rawlins

Gilliland is also a natural entertainer, humorist, philosopher, poet and National Public Radio commentator.

“Rawlins Gilliland and his stories are one of a kind!” says Jim Gold, president of Neiman Marcus.

Needless to say, Tres Mariposas buyer Bobbie Baldridge and I had a thoroughly fun evening at our Retail Advisory Board meeting.

We did pick up plenty of suggestion of products from Gilliland and other retailers that might be great holiday gift items.

The part of buying trips that I rarely talk about is the products we don’t buy. Part of the joy of being a buyer is the thrill of the hunt. I will go check out just about any tip, even though some explorations lead to groan-worthy products. Even though they may be bestsellers for some, these are items you won’t find at Tres Mariposas this year:

• A birdhouse that looked like a miniature Airstream style RV complete with 1950s decor and porch

• Giant Christmas ornaments made with wishbones

• Lit Coolers, for campers who need their ice chests complete with interior lights

• Bling-A-Go-Go, t-shirts that can be customized

That last one sounded so bad that Bobbie refused to go with me to check it out. Of course, she was right and Bling-A-Go-Go wasn’t for Tres.

A few holiday gifts that you can look forward to seeing:

• Jeweled evening bags in Art Deco patterns

• Limited edition individually hand-crafted fashion jewelry with Egyptian themes.

• Italian Renaissance-style candles with domes

In future columns, I’ll be sharing with you some of our observations about the styles and trends we saw in both New York and Dallas. We’ll also be giving you some ideas that might inspire “the thrill of the hunt” in your own clothes shopping this fall!

Fashion, Engery, Success: El Pasoan Keeli Jernigan

Keeli JerniganMany of you know El Pasoan Keeli Jernigan, president and CEO of global logistics company Trans-Expedite.

Keeli is remarkable, and I don’t use that word lightly. She is a bundle of positive energy! I see her as super intelligent and efficient, with a great get-it-done attitude.

I have noticed that the very most successful people I’ve ever met have two things in common: They respond with a “yes” to almost any idea or project and they are givers.

Keeli says yes first and figures out how later. She is a busy, busy person who finds creative ways to give to the community.

And by the way, this amazing woman is also beautiful and oh, so fashionable!

Left to Right: Brandi Brown, Mark and Keeli Jernigan

Left to Right: Brandi Brown, Mark and Keeli Jernigan

At Tres Mariposas we had a lot of fun with Keeli recently, thanks to an exciting challenge she gave us. Here’s the back story:

Experienced in the freight transportation industry, Keeli and her husband Mark founded Trans-Expedite in 2001. Trans-Expedite, now having grown to over $60 million in annual revenue, is a single-source logistics solution that helps companies of every description protect their assets, reduce operational costs and solve strategic supply-chain problems with customized services.

This includes warehousing, inventory management, domestic and international distribution, customs brokerage, white glove services and trade show services.

Under Jernigan’s leadership, Trans-Expedite became the first indirect air carrier in the El Paso market to meet congressionally mandated screening measures and qualify as a Certified Cargo Screening Facility.Local and national level leadership and involvement are Keeli’s style. Her company has been recognized by the Women Presidents’ Organization as one of the 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Owned/Women-Led Businesses in North America five times in the last eight years.

In 2013, she was recognized by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council as a “WBE Star.” So it is not surprising that she has been a strong force in Women’s Business Enterprise or that Trans-Expedite was a major sponsor of the council’s recent national conference and business fair in Austin.

Keeli at WBENC Gala

Keeli at WBENC Gala

As an integral part of this conference, Keeli knew she would frequently be on stage at the June 23-25 event. She introduced key speakers and took part in a variety of seminars, forums, evening events and a tribute dinner and awards ceremony.

Keeli wanted to look great while in the public eye. As she has done before, Keeli challenged us to the fun of helping her prepare nearly a week-long wardrobe.

This is a fashion retailer’s dream come true: a gorgeous woman who looks great in any and everything! Keeli needed to look professional, yet never boring. Oh, and one more thing to add to the wardrobe planning: Keeli would be wearing custom cowboy boots each day for the Texas-themed conference!

We made it a team effort to suggest amazing travel-friendly pieces for Keeli’s trip. Her style leans toward jewel tones, solid colors, femininity and body-conscious yet still professional looks, so we had a direction to go in.

Go-to designers are Herve Leger, famous for body sculpting dresses, and La Petite Robe, a Milan designer who uses a proprietary innovative, eco-friendly stretch fabric.

Left to Right: Ceci Mulvihill, Keeli Jernigan, Brandi Brown

Left to Right: Ceci Mulvihill, Keeli Jernigan, Brandi Brown

As you can see from the photos, Keeli looked amazing. El Pasoans Ceci Mulvihill and Brandi Brown of RMPersonnel also participated in the conference. Thanks to Brandi for serving as photographer. We are so proud of all of El Paso’s dedicated women leaders and are so glad to see their work recognized beyond our community

Escada’s Fall 2015 Collection Comes to El Paso

We had an unusually fun and amazing event take place at Tres Mariposas last week.Let me start by sharing some insights into the apparel buying cycle. Like other fashion retailers, we go to different markets for different lines. Normally, we buy high-end and European lines the furthest in advance and in New York.

These designers do not take their lines to the regional markets like Dallas or Los Angeles. And the more premium the fabrics and construction, the longer lead time is needed. The high level of quality means these are not fast-fashion productions.Escada dress

Every February, we shop Escada, the famous German luxury collection. This February, however, the collection was not in their New York showroom due to unusual circumstances.

Helen Mirren in Escada

Happily, Escada offered to bring the entire fall 2015 collection to El Paso so we could see it all here, right in our own store. “We will just bring the showroom to you,” declared Rebecca Evans of Escada. What a fabulous idea!

And what an unforgettable sight it was to see all the beautiful dresses, tops, jackets, skirts and pants in all their glory, right here in El Paso. Unlike our typical New York showroom experience, we had the luxury of more time to get to know the collection – and we got to hear reactions and recommendations from all our staff and even a few customers.

I have a special affinity for Escada. The brand was founded in 1978, the same year I came to Tres Mariposas. A few years later, an Escada outfit – a peasant-influenced skirt and blouse – was my first-ever luxury apparel purchase.

I felt on top of the world when I wore it. The fabric was divine. The fit was perfect. The workmanship was flawless. There really is a significant difference in luxury apparel; I felt elevated and special.

Escada had interesting beginnings. Margaretha Ley, a model and designer, and her husband, Wolfgang Ley, were on holiday in Spain when they bet on a winning Irish racehorse named Escada. The winnings became the seed money for Escada the brand.

Miranda Kerr in Escada

Miranda Kerr in Escada

Margaretha’s distinctive creations with their unusual combinations of colors and patterns soon stood out in the fashion world. Escada became Germany’s leading luxury fashion brand and a leading player in the global luxury clothing market. North America became a strong market, in part because of American women’s love of color. Today Escada is a go-to brand for celebrities and many of America’s best-dressed, most stylish women.

Rebecca Evans (Escada) and Bobbie Baldridge (Tres Mariposas)

Rebecca Evans (Escada) and Bobbie Baldridge (Tres Mariposas)

Having the complete Escada line at Tres Mariposas for our buyers to make their selections was such a treat. We had a great time – too bad we can’t always get a major fashion design house to come to us!