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August 05

Tales of Retail: POWDER

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A few weeks ago we stopped by Powder Boutique and sat down for some summertime hot cocoa with the most amazing Miss Beth. NAME beth JOB TITLE creative director HOMELAND england ZODIAC SIGN pisces CURRENT NAIL COLOR neon pink SONG STUCK IN YOUR HEAD RIGHT NOW stevie wonder superstition SIGNATURE ARTICLE OF CLOTHING boyfriend's cardigan RIHANNA OR MIA rihanna PERSONAL STYLE ICON chloe sevigny #1 GUILTY PLEASURE smoking cigarettes [ed. note: when I asked her to indulge with me outside she explained that she had quit! Beth is queen of self control!] LAST HALLOWEEN COSTUME michael jackson [ed. note: can't with this one, just too much] PERSONAL STYLE IN 3 WORDS understated shabby glamour AM COFFEE ORDER americano cold milk 2 brown sugars [caption id="attachment_10407" align="aligncenter" width="768" caption="Tori & Beth"][/caption] Miista: So let's start with the basics, tell us a bit about your store, where it came from, how it's run...all that good stuff. Beth Weatherby: Well, the boutique actually existed under the same name before my family took over ownership. I previously worked with the owner and loved it so much that when the opportunity arose I knew that it had to be mine. With my styling background (working with high profile muscians) I was able to take over from the previous owners after working for them and helping them with the buying. Currently I co-run the shop with my older sister Tory -- she does all the internet based stuff and helps me with the buying, but we really tend to share all the major responsibility. On top of that our father is also involved with the business end -- he's almost too business oriented for retail, sometimes he's shocked by how crazy the industry can really be. [Ed. Note: Una, one of Miista's account heads, LOVES working with Beth's father because he's absolutely no BS -- aka the best of the best.] M: Now once you took over Powder how did you manage the transition? Was a lot kept the same or did you go for a complete overhaul? BW: The boutique was always successful and I really understood the mission and positioning, so we didn't go into it wanting to change everything. We kept the name and a few similar brands but buying wise we did change quite a lot quite quickly. We brought in Westwood which we were extremely excited about, and also started buying Marc by Marc Jacobs -- which we subsequently needed to drop due to minimums that just didn't make sense for the store. Our main goal was to pick up stronger, more well known brands in order to increase awareness of the shop's presence. We have a fantastic location -- which is one of our main draws. Since the business was already established we had a great existing customer base, and to this day we still have many of those same loyal customers. The location in Crouch End is a bit of an isolated community -- people tend to stay in the neighborhood and it's a little out of the way from the hustle and bustle of London. We get really great street traffic and lots of young, stylish moms. We also run the online shop which ships worldwide. It's really so interesting to watch the purchasing patterns from our online customers -- one time we sold the same Selective Femme dress to 5 different places in Sweden in one day. We love stocking brands like Selective Femme because they're highly sought but not heavily stocked, so we get very interesting spurts of orders. [caption id="attachment_10409" align="aligncenter" width="768" caption="the shoe selection at Powder!"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_10410" align="aligncenter" width="1024" caption="some Miista at Powder!"][/caption] M: Speaking of the brands, tell us about your superstars. Who sells the best and how do you buy for the shop? BW: We've seen a great deal of evolution with the brands that we stock since the recession began. We've made a very conscious effort to bring in lower priced brands to increase our shop's accessibility and get more people through the door. Our tried and true regulars are still buying the more expensive labels, but when they come in and find cheaper items they're super excited about them as well. I mean, it is always great to find something that you love only to realize it's much cheaper than expected. I have been incredibly careful though -- I am most interested in featuring the store in a proper manner, and not damaging its image by buying poor quality goods. I really believe in the less expensive brands that I purchase because it's always about improving the store and its offering. It's a fine line to walk as sometimes customers can be turned off, thankfully we haven't experienced much of that. Some of our best brands are Vivienne Westwood, American Vintage, By Malene Birger, Orla Kiely, Miista, many more small ones. As for the entry price level brands Mink Pink and Son de Guard have really done fantastically well for us. Mink Pink has brought in a younger market for us and Son de Guard, who make a slew of gorgeous accessories, have pieces that are included in our top 5 best sellers. [caption id="attachment_10411" align="aligncenter" width="1024" caption="the Polaroid wall"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_10412" align="aligncenter" width="768" caption="Polaroids part two"][/caption] M: You mentioned that Mink Pink was able to bring in a younger market for you -- who is your bread and butter customer? BW: She's a working mom -- she needs professional clothing but she also needs comfortable, smart clothing to run around with her kids in. Age wise though it's not so specific, we really have a strong range from late 20's all the way into 50's. One of our best customers is 75. Something that's very important for the Powder lady is quality, you know especially since she is a little older a little smarter, she knows what she wants and she's not going to buy something poorly crafted just because it's trendy. Our women know all about what's going on in the fashion world but they also want to shop smart. Our selection has always proven very popular, but I truly believe it's the service that keeps them coming back. We are always one-to-one when anyone comes in the door and then we are able to present them our carefully edited product mix. Being in a niche area like Crouch End it's important to have something that stands out. [caption id="attachment_10413" align="aligncenter" width="1024" caption="lovely scarf display"][/caption] M: With the edit being so important to you, how do you go about finding new brands? BW: I like to do a lot of it myself. I've been relying much less on staff and working to find the new additions through word of mouth. And I've actually been going to fashion shows much less frequently that I used to. I found that ultimately the shows are more about the social scene than anything else. So word of mouth is how I do it and then I reinforce that kind of knowledge with magazines, tradeshows, street style and old film. I've found that the golden era of film is so much more inspirational than tradeshows, it's so nice to have context when viewing clothing instead of seeing it in a more grocery market setting. [Ed. note: AMEN] [caption id="attachment_10415" align="aligncenter" width="768" caption="our LOLA up on the wall!"][/caption] M: What does Powder have in store for everyone this coming season? BW: Well we are working with a very targeted edit in order to meet the minimums for some of our favorite brands while still working to include other niche and entry level lines. Chie Mihara is customizing some shoes for us so we'll be the only shop in the world with certain colorways. Very excited about that! The exclusivity factor is something that really speaks to our customer, so we try to give her as much as possible. We're also doing a little interior redesign -- I'm constantly painting in here in order to give our ladies a fresh shopping environment. And the parties! We'll be having our Westwood party for regulars as well as a preview sale. We love having little shindigs in the store -- it's so nice to feel as though we're just enjoying time with our customers, chatting and looking at beautiful clothing. I even have my birthday party in the shop every year! There really is such a strong community element, we'll just open a few bottles of wine and customers will wander in and out. Since there's no tube near us the neighborhood is a little isolated so you know almost everyone out on the street. [caption id="attachment_10416" align="aligncenter" width="1024" caption="the painted ceiling"][/caption] M: Any exciting news on the horizon for Powder? BW: We have AMAZING brands coming for Fall so be sure to check in often! Lots of faux fur, I really fell in love with the faux fur look for this season, trust me it looks fantastic. We're also beyond excited about the Westwood we have coming it -- it's the strongest collection yet, and you can quote me on that! [caption id="attachment_10417" align="aligncenter" width="768" caption="get zen"][/caption]
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