Get the Blues

Boutique Denim Sales Thrive with Smart Retailing
By Laura Raines

Beija-Flor Jeans

Beija-Flor Jeans

“Women came late to the jeans market, but now they are driving its explosion and innovation—new technologies, processes and fibers,” says Kathy Moca, co-founder and owner of Beija-Flor Jeans. “Denim is here to stay.” If you’ve been avoiding selling denim, it’s time to jump in.

Here are some expert tips:

Know your customer
“You need to know ages, lifestyles, demographics and what they value,” says Marlo Williams, sales director at Level 99. Are they interested in cutting-edge trends, comfort, fit, durability, price, eco-friendly products?

Deliver a premium shopping experience
“Denim is about individuality and finding that perfect style and fit. To survive, a retailer has to make a connection with the customer and establish a rapport,” says Moca. “Be prepared to educate them on the product’s uniqueness and how it is made.” Make it easy, fun and satisfying to shop for jeans to beat the online competition. “It’s important to be knowledgeable,” says Linda Del Percio, marketing director, French Dressing Jeans. “Trained fit specialist staff can save a shopper a lot of time by suggesting the silhouettes and styles that complement her body type.”

French Dressing Jeans

French Dressing Jeans

Research companies before you go to market
There are many options in every price point. You might try several price points to see what sells. Compare manufacturing technologies, range of styles and sizes, your initial investment and the level of customer service. What support will you get from a brand’s in-store collateral materials (posters, tags, signage), advertising and use of social media?

Start small
Buy the basics and manufacturers’ top sellers that work for your customers. “We make dark denim, black and white without a lot of destruction and bling year round, because those are wardrobe staples,” says Moca. “You can make mistakes with colors. Play it safe to start.”

Inventory often and reorder
Jeans are a replenishment item. Make sure you have all sizes in stock.

Display flat
“Hanging and storing in cubbies is denim suicide,” says John Williams. “Place jeans half-folded on a table, so that shoppers can touch and respond to how great it feels.”

For more information: Beija-Flor Jeans –, 864.631.1563; French Dressing Jeans –, 404.523.3267; and Level 99 –, 404.749.4655.

Images courtesy of Beija-Flor Jeans and French Dressing Jeans.

Dr. Toy’s 10 Tips for Top Toy Retailers

By Stevanne Auerbach, PhD, Dr. Toy®

Stevanne Auerbach, PhD/aka Dr. Toy® offers many play, learning and toy suggestions from baby to older children in the new 4th edition of Dr. Toy’s Smart Play Smart Toys, available in stores. The author of three books on toys, she evaluates toys and children’s products, and provides the Dr. Toy awards found on Dr. Toy’s Guide and for Dr. Toy’s Best Gift Guide App.

Below, Dr. Toy shares 10 ideas to help you create a checklist of productive activities that can benefit your bottom line, enhance your customers’ experience and bring them back to your store.

Gravity Maze

Gravity Maze

  1. Understand the power of play
    Become a play and toy expert and select products that fit a wide range of children’s growth and developmental needs. Include items that can be enjoyed by the entire family, including senior members.
  1. Tailor the best mix of products
    Toys sell to a broad range of customers who look for the best they can find and afford. Your products should represent the entire range of ages, community, and diversity.
  1. Know your customers
    Welcome them, and ask them to register as a “valued customer.” Send them a monthly or quarterly email newsletter. Find out what they want, and then try to provide those products.
  1. Enliven in-store experiences
    Create a table or counter offering games and demos. Run special events to get customers more engaged in the store.
  1. Tasty Science

    Tasty Science

    Brand your store
    Host drawings for prizes, and hold special sales and promotions with themes such as back-to-school, STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) learning, fantasy play and nature.

  1. Trust your expertise
    Play is vital to everyone’s health and well-being. Expand your skills in business, marketing and enriching everyday experiences through play.
  1. Contemplate community outreach
    Sponsorship of local charities and groups, or offering prizes for events, increases your store’s name recognition.
  1. Participate
    As an essential member of the toy industry, join organizations such as the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association, Toy Industry Association, Inc. and Women in Toys. Read trade magazines and sign up for The Bloom Report.
  1. Train your staff
    Dodge Tag

    Dodge Tag

    Train your personnel about age-appropriate toys; stock your store with good choices; and be sure your staff understands developmental milestones, toy appropriateness and can easily and courteously assist your customers.

  2. Offer a range of playthings
    Include a variety of toys for all ages and reasons such as active toys, creative toys and puppets educational toys.

Have fun! Create a special place that is the hub for the best toys and games in your community. That’s a winning combination for customers of all ages.

© 2015 Stevanne Auerbach, PhD, San Francisco, CA
Dr. Toy ® is trademark of Stevanne Auerbach

Images courtesy of Scientific Explorer and Think Fun (available at Rep Force One), and Toy Travelers International.

Temps on the Move

Tabletop & Housewares and Gourmet Foods Shift Locations
By Chris Gigley

AWH_PHOTO-6101With an aim toward connecting buyers with the product they are looking to find, AmericasMart has moved two Temporary product collections in Building 2. Tabletop & Entertaining and Housewares is now located on Floor 2, while Gourmet Foods shifted up to Floor 3.

Marie Knight, vice president of Tradeshows for AmericasMart, cites two reasons for flip-flopping the categories. First, it reflects the growth of the tabletop and housewares industry. “It’s what more people are doing these days, coming together and enjoying each other’s company,” says Knight. “As a result, there is an array of options available beyond the traditional high-end product. New lines are bringing the fun back to the category.”

AWH_PHOTO-7384The move also puts Tabletop & Entertaining and Housewares adjacent to the High Design area, a juried selection of design-oriented products located on Floor 1. Tabletop Luxe, a juried selection of high-end tabletop products in the pre-function area of Tabletop & Housewares, has moved to Floor 2, making the progression from Floor 1 to Floor 2 even more natural for buyers.

“Part of what we’re trying to do is strengthen the natural synergy that already exists between Tabletop & Housewares and the more design-oriented products found in High Design,” says Knight. “We want to attract design-oriented buyers and give them access to more of the products they need.”

Moving the Gourmet Foods area to Floor 3 provides direct access via bridge to the Temporary collections showcased in Building 3. “As consumers revive entertaining in their homes, Gourmet products continue to be a viable option for a range of retailers,” says Knight. “The location makes the collection even more accessible to a growing buyer audience.

For more information about The Atlanta International Gift & Home
Furnishings Market® January 12 – 19, 2016, visit

Décor for Spring & Summer

Key interior concepts for Spring/Summer 2016
As we get through winter and look forward to the warmer months, it’s imperative to understand what customers will see as interesting. Simple, authentic and textural design is key for the coming season, as consumers want to highlight craftsmanship and materials more than ever. The following are a few predictions for Spring/Summer 2016 home décor from Trend Specialists at WGSN, a subscription-based trend forecasting service.

Chalked Surfaces
The industrial meets the domestic as concrete and whitewashed wood inspires chalky color and finish for domestic earthen kitchenware, interior lighting and interior accessories. Weather-worn patinas and soft tints add authentic character to any room.

Marbled Tints
Delicate color tints accentuate the unique beauty and natural grain of wood, marble and stone, emoting a more sensitive mood through cosmetic enhancement. Glass and resin products have a mineral or quartz-like finish.

Lace Effects
Tactility is key in both decorative accessories and furniture, with a simple yet commercial direction for subtle relief textures on ceramics, kitchen appliances, and stenciled effects for tablecloths. Etching or laser cutting into classic pieces provides an elegant surface update perfect for an understated hint of opulence.

Coastline Contours
Ariel views of coastlines and landscapes inform new contours as products map driftwood into glass and resin, emulating land and sea. Reclaimed wooden objects are up-cycled and mixed with fiberglass, resin, paint, and crystallized layers to look like stacked geological artifacts.

Breezy Blues
Perfect for the peak of summer, shades of turquoise blend with foamy tones of off-white for highly textured designs that look as though they’ve been stirred by the breeze, submerged in water or scorched by the sun.

WGSN is the industry-leading content and technology solution for professionals in the style, fashion and design sectors. For more information, visit Images courtesy of WGSN.

For more Market trends see our January 2016 AmericasMart Market Magazine.

Tabletop 101

Your Guide to Dinnerware Materials
By Jessica Harlan

Dinnerware is made of a wide range of materials, from earthenware to bone china. But how much do you really know about each material type? Educate your staff on the properties of stoneware, porcelain, earthenware, bone china, and other tabletop offerings so they can help customers make the best choices. Here’s our guide to the basic terms you should know:

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Earthenware: This material has been fired at a lower temperature, so the glaze and the body haven’t been fused together. “People like earthenware because it has a warmer feel,” says Chris Rosse, owner of Rosse and Associates. Earthenware is known for its rustic look, simple shapes and thicker body.

Faience: This dinnerware is a higher quality earthenware. “It’s almost porcelain, but not quite,” says Rosse. “You can get more detail in your shapes.” Gien dinnerware is a great example of Faience.

Stoneware: This style of earthenware is fired at a higher temperature than earthenware so it is more resistant to chipping, but is still heavy and thick, and doesn’t have a lot of detail in its shape and design. Higher quality stoneware has kaolin in it (a clay used in porcelain) to make it strong.

Porcelain: Porcelain contains a white clay called kaolin that makes it strong enough to withstand the high firing temperatures needed to vitrify it so the glaze and body are fused, says Wendy Kvalheim, CEO and design director of Mottahedeh & Co., Inc. Many manufacturers add certain other ingredients to their porcelain clay to give it durability and other properties. For example, Caskata artisanal tableware contains magnesium, which gives it strength and a creamy color – most porcelain has a cool, greyish cast. Porcelain sounds upscale, but there is a wide variety of quality levels (and price points) available.

Fine China: Fine china has quartz and feldspar in its white clay and is fired at a lower heat than porcelain, says Michelle Richards, spokesperson for Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton. It has a similar bluish or greyish hue as porcelain.

Bone China: Kvalheim says it was the English in the late 1700s who experimented with adding bone ash to porcelain to avoid it slumping in the kiln. Simultaneously delicate and strong, the inclusion of bone ash to the clay gives bone china incredible durability, which allows it to be formed into sophisticated and detailed shapes with a super-thin profile. Bone china has warm, ivory tones, has translucency thanks to the thinner shape and it’s also more chip resistant than other materials. Shawn Laughlin, owner and designer of Caskata, says her Insignia C collection is the last domestically made bone china.

Vitrified: This refers to the process of heating clay to a temperature that’s so hot, it fuses the glaze and the body together and makes the surface glass like, so it is impervious to water.

For more information: Caskata –, 508.242.5573; Mottahedeh –, 800.443.8225; Rosse & Associates –, 404.522.7574; and Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton –, 732-938-5800.

Images courtesy of Caskata, Mottahedeh and Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton.

The Global Lens

By Patti Carpenter, AmericasMart Global Trend Ambassador

“The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.”
GK Chesterson

Patti CarpenterI love color! It makes me happy. You might say I am passionate about palettes…..of color. There. I said it and I’m proud of it! Color can literally make me salivate. In fact, I often refer to colors as tasty or delicious.

Similarly, I love sumptuous textiles and beautifully thrown or decorated ceramics and furniture; the beautiful curve of well-balanced seating, the stateliness of a well-designed table. I love a good wood grain and perfectly polished metals. I love humble materials made into extraordinary treasures. I love creativity and functional design made fabulous. It’s in my DNA. It’s what inspires me and stirs me to get up and get out every day. Without it all, life would be diminished in some way. This I know for sure.

So when AmericasMart Atlanta approached me to be its Global Trend Ambassador, I was more than delighted. I put on my global glasses and got to work. As I travel around the world, 54 countries and counting, I’ll review design, color, print/pattern and materials and share my impressions with you. Come journey with me through the ethos and the ether of the current trends, distill them, and discover the subtle, salable sensibilities in what we find.

To begin, here are the color-related categories clamoring for my creative attention for the coming season.

Color: As we collectively focus on the environment and the climate, the warming of the world draws our attention to that side of the color palette countered by a coolly confident blue. I’m focused on…

  • Orange – warmed and reddened, scorched and sultrySultry Orange
  • Yellow – from red-tinged Ochre to shocking Lemon Zest whitened like a sunspot.Sunspot Yellow
  • Inky Indigo – deep, saturated and newer than navy
    Inky Indigo

Palettes: Colors play together in complex collaborations

  • Pales – pretty pastels that pack a modern, yet softly feminine punchPerfectly Pale
  • Mid Tones – perfectly pitched between pastels and bright; a Frank Stella retro-influence inspiresModern Midtones
  • Black and White – classic to cosmic, these opposites continue to attractOpposites Attract

Till the next time, I hope my reportage engages and inspires you; that it touches you in some visceral way…that is rouses you to join the creative conversation.

See these trends and more at The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market, January 12-19, 2016. Learn more at

Join Global Trend Ambassador Patti Carpenter for “Through the Looking Glass: A Study In Contrasts”, an interactive journey through emerging international macro trends in color, print, surface design and materials with a focus on the influence of European trends on the current US home and gift industries. Your guide at the crossroads of business and creativity, Patti distills the broad-based themes directing trends around the world and their impact on American markets, while offering a first look at the must-see product innovations people will be talking about in the seasons ahead. Patti’s insightful, carefully curated presentations continue to be an indispensable resource for US-retailers and designers looking to stay abreast of groundbreaking trends on the global horizon. Thursday, January 14, 2016 | 11 a.m  | Building 1, Floor 15, Designer Workspace.

Warm Weather Offerings

Gift ideas for Spring/Summer 2016
As retailers thinking ahead to warmer seasons, gift options will stand out with an array of items that range from playful to polished to overly tactile. Knowing which trends attract consumers each season is crucial. The Global Trend team at WGSN helps retailers stay informed about these trends, and here are some of their top picks for gifts in Spring/Summer 2016.

Landscape Inspired
Mountains, topography and snowcapped peaks continue to inspire designers. From 3D forms to prints, true-to-life interpretations and stylized outlines create miniature landscapes in the kitchen, on the desk and even on the wall, bringing the outdoors atmosphere indoors.

Accessories reference deep-sea life with abstract coral prints and tactile frames and vases. Fluid glass vessels, creature-like candleholders and abstract metallic frames offer an organic design direction.

Metal & Matte
Washed-out copper and brass are treated in polished, sheeny or distressed finishes. Barely tinted glass and Plexiglas allow for transparency play with simple, organic shapes. Matte and shiny contrast by pairing solid or foil metal with wood, fabric and paper.

Pixel Play
Playful pixel patterns across 2D and 3D surfaces use color and material to create depth and form. Sequined and woven cushions have a decorative tactile look. Pixel patterns on hard objects can use simple flat printing or dynamic 3D forms.

Natural Woven
Slubby texture with irregular construction and material combinations, such as reed, coir and sea grass cord, brings a global craft influence to household vessels. Tufted textures and graphic patterns add surface appeal to everyday storage containers. The artisan aesthetic is also introduced in raffia.

WGSN is the industry-leading content and technology solution for professionals in the style, fashion and design sectors. For more information, visit Images courtesy of WGSN.

For more Market trends see our January 2016 AmericasMart Market Magazine.