Retail 101: A Q&A with Red in the East Village, NY
Nestled on East 7th in the East Village, arguably one of the best streets in the neighborhood, Red boutique is known for fostering local emerging design talent. Coined as the "lab," Red helps designers introduce their collections and gain a bit of insight while doing it. Stocking womenswear, handbags and accessories that are a bit extraordinary and out of the ordinary, this is the boutique to go to if you want something to soothe your eclectic flair.
The Emerging Designer had a chance to chat with Red to see how a designer can best work with them.
What do you look for in a designer?
We clearly love talent.We look for designers that are going to bring something unique and interesting to the table, because that is the theme of our store. Even if it's their first collection, we'll consider any designers that show promise and professionalism.
How do you like designers to reach you? What should they have?
Emailing us with photos, a lookbook and/or linesheet is the best way to reach us. Your material should be professional and informative (e.g. show your collection clearly and define price point, materials, delivery, etc...) Calling or dropping off your material works too, but avoid busy hours and understand that we won't have time to meet right away. We tend to take appointments with as many designers as possible, because you never know and because we enjoy that part of our business.
What business skills do you look for in a designer?
Professionalism! Ultimately, you have to understand that this is a business. Designers need to deliver on time and have their production sorted before they commit to retailers. They also need to be able to make accommodations like swap out a color or restock inventory to help the retailer sell their brand. Pricing is very important too. They have to understand their own price points and see if it's a fit with the store. We play in a certain price range and look for designers that fall into our parameters.
Any advice for maximizing your opportunity with a boutique?
Trunk shows are a great way to introduce your products, bring in traffic to the store, and learn more about your potential customer base. Designers should try to spend some time in the stores where their collections are sold (without being distracting and getting in the way of sales people) because you can get invaluable, unbiased, and 100% honest feedback on your products. Customers' reaction to your pieces can give you wonderful insight and maybe even inspiration.
What makes a good collection?
One that flies off the racks! Jokes aside, designers should try to present at least 4-6 pieces. One or two items alone are hard to sell, and do not tell a story. A collection should say something about the designer, communicate a style or an identity. This also makes our job a lot easier.
How do you buy? Seasons?
We buy seasons. But we mainly think of Red Boutique as a "lab." Once they start working with us, designers are encouraged to test collections and pieces and see how they do on the floor. Usually we start off with limited pieces on consignment as a great way to test out products.
Any designer dont's?
Be willing to work with a boutique. We have many designers on our roster, and the most successful ones are those who listen and take feedback in a constructive way. Often times I want to re-order a product for the next season, or even within the same season because it is selling very well. I've had many designers tell me that they no longer make that product. As much as possible, try to be able to accommodate demand, and try not to re-invent the wheel or discontinue an item if you know it sold well and works in a store.
Red Boutique 129 East 7th Street New York, NY 10003 212.777.7211
Emerging designer or have a resource to share? Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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