In just a few days, Henri Bendel will host their legendary Open-See. A line will curve down the street and hopefuls will wait patiently for a chance to present their pieces to buyers. For many designers, the Open-See is their chance to become recognized and build some traction in the industry while developing a relationship with a New York retail icon.
Only a few years ago, jewelry designer Alexandra Beth had the entrepreneurial gumption to attend the open call. Although, this is to be expected from a girl that started at age 15, successfully selling 90 necklaces to regional boutiques. Now, her collection also consists of earrings, rings and incorporates her signature line of triple-wrap, two-tone leather bracelets. New for the the season are “spring lovelies” which include bangles with neon leather, studded bracelets and sparkling druzies, natural crystallized stones.
We asked this insider for tips on how to prepare:
What made you go to Bendel’s Open-See?
I heard about it a month or so after arriving in the city, and I had just created my line of leather wrapped bracelets, among other pieces. I felt I had enough that was interesting to show the buyers. It was a long-shot, but I came to the city in the spirit of entrepreneurship, ready to give it a go.
What advice would you give to a designer waiting in line?
Dress warmly! I had to sprint across the street to the Gap for a hat and gloves as the Open-See I attended was in October. I would pack items that are easily transported and displayed. I would advise doing one’s best to hold onto the enthusiasm with which they arrived. I waited five hours and had to bring my spirit to the finish line.
What’s the best way to pitch your designs to the team?
I think it helped that I had my designs divided into easily viewed groupings. There’s not much time or room for set up, so being able to easily present the collection is key. Also, figuring out a few concise phrases to describe your wares can be helpful. Making sure to have a business card or something to leave with your contact information is important, too.
What are they really looking for?
I think they are looking for what is on trend but more so are looking for what could be ahead of the curve. I brought designs that I felt were appealing, creative and colorful.
What was the outcome?
After several months, I was invited to host a trunk show in the atrium of the store. I was invited back several times throughout the year, and ultimately, the buyers purchased my signature wrap bracelets.
Should you have a full collection?
I do not think it is necessary to have a full collection. I actually forgot to show any of the earrings I had brought with me! I think it is helpful to show something that looks cohesive. The Open-See embraces new designers so it is my guess that the buyers may not expect an entire collection, but may be looking for something that shows promise of a collection.
How should it be presented?
I believe it helped that my designs were presented in a cohesive fashion. All the bracelets were already displayed on one stand. There is no time to set up a display or start taking pieces out of bags one by one.
Any other tips on how to nail the Open-See?
I would say to just be true to yourself and to your vision and to your designs. That is what they want to see and that is what you have to offer.
Are you an emerging designer or have a resource to share? Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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