Meet The Summer 2016 AmericasMart Interns

AmericasMart® proudly offers a range of educational internships for individuals who are seeking experience in the wholesale trade center industry. The Internship Program is designed for students to experience and manage “real-life business scenarios.” The program’s goal is to enhance student’s business acumen and to increase their professional value in the marketplace after graduation.

As they finish their assignments, learn more about the 21 interns AmericasMart hosted this summer.

Hannahkohl Almire
University of Georgia

AmericasMart Department: Digital Marketinghannahkohl
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
Major/Minor: Marketing with an emphasis in Digital Marketing/Studio Art
Hobbies: Photography, basketball, painting, and running
Career Goal: To excel in the Digital Marketing field.
Greatest Accomplishment: Making it to the NCAA tournament two times for basketball at UGA.
Quote/Phrase you live by: “Some people are so poor all they have is money.” -Jack Kerouac
What you hope to gain from the program: Digital marketing skills in coding HTML and CSS and to build relationships with good people.

Atira L. Anderson
Georgia State University

AmericasMart Department: LIGHTFAIR Internationalatira
Hometown: Jonesboro, GA
Major/Minor: Marketing/ Art
Hobbies: In my spare time, I enjoy shopping, traveling, and exercising.
Career Goal: Marketing and researching the latest fashion trends are what I enjoy the most; therefore, my career goal is to become a Senior Buyer for a large retail company.
Greatest Accomplishment: I worked as the sports photographer for the Clayton State University Newspaper and also had the opportunity to photograph the Lake City Community Center Grand Opening Event.
Quote/Phrase you live by: “I view my career like a rubber-band ball in that every role is a new experience building toward something bigger.” – Jamie Chung
What you hope to gain from the program: I hope to expand my knowledge in the different aspects of marketing and gain a hands-on experience in the hospitality industry.

Anna Andruzak
Washington State University

AmericasMart Department: Retail Servicesannaandruzak
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
Major/Minor: Hospitality Business Management
Hobbies: Leadership, event planning, adventuring, skiing (both water and snow), eating brunch
Career Goal: Event Planner
Greatest Accomplishment: I currently serve as Chapter President of my sorority, Kappa Delta. This is the second executive board position I have held (my first being Vice President of Membership Recruitment), overseeing 165 members.
Quote/Phrase you live by: “She has a way with words, red lip stick and making an entrance.” –Kate Spade
What you hope to gain from the program: I hope to gain experience that will help me in my career path after college. I also hope to gain connections.

Amelia Aptheker
Georgia Southern University

AmericasMart Department: Apparel Marketingamelia
Hometown: Jacksonville, FL
Major/Minor: Fashion Merchandising and Apparel Design
Hobbies: Flywheel, cooking, yoga, shopping
Career Goal: To own a business in the retail industry.
Greatest Accomplishment: Graduating from the best little university in Georgia!
Quote/Phrase you live by: Do one thing every day that scares you.
What you hope to gain from the program: Meet influential people, network to create lasting professional relationships, exercise my abilities, learn a lot, and show the company what I can do!

Amanda Bassett
Kennesaw State University

AmericasMart Department: Gift Temporariesamanda
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
Major/Minor: Major: Management Minor: Marketing.
Hobbies: Shopping, running, cooking and spending time with friends and family.
Career Goal: My career goal is finding something I love to do every day. I am not entirely sure what my career will be yet but I hope after this internship with AmericasMart it will give me a better idea if this is something I can see myself doing in the future.
Quote/Phrase you live by: “All our dreams can come true it we have the courage to pursue them.”- Walt Disney
What you hope to gain from the program: I hope to gain experience in a business environment and learn the many things that go into a business that is unable to be taught in a classroom.

Anna Christine Crowther
University of Georgia

AmericasMart Department: Retail Servicesannacrowther
Hometown: Beaufort, SC
Major/Minor: Fashion Merchandising
Hobbies: Meeting new people, going on long walks, spending time with family and friends in the boat at home, and shopping of course!
Career Goal: To own a boutique with several locations
Greatest Accomplishment: Obtaining acceptance into the University of Georgia on a semi full academic scholarship.
Quote/Phrase you live by: “If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours.” –George Kacic
What you hope to gain from the program: I hope to learn more about what exactly I would like to pursue in the future. I also hope to gain connections in this industry that will help me further my career.

Briar Davis
Clark Atlanta University

AmericasMart Department: Publishingbriar
Hometown: Nashville, TN
Major/Minor: Mass Communications with a Concentration in Journalism
Hobbies: Shopping
Career Goal: To own a culturally conscious magazine.
Greatest Accomplishment: Graduating as the Salutatorian of my class in college.
Quote/Phrase you live by: “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21
What you hope to gain from the program: I hope to gain more experience in the realm of journalism, a stronger network, and portfolio samples.

John Easton
Kennesaw State University

AmericasMart Department: Accountingjohn
Hometown: Marietta, GA
Major/Minor: Accounting/Management
Hobbies: Fishing, hiking, rock climbing
Career Goal: To graduate in December of 2016, then work in accounting for a private company.
Greatest Accomplishment: I held a school record in swimming during my senior year in high school.
Quote/Phrase you live by: “Instead of talking about how things won’t work, how about you make them work.”
What you hope to gain from the program: I hope to gain knowledge and experience that can only be learned by working in a job in my career field. I want to be able to take the coursework and be able to see how it applies in the real world.

Luciana EtchechouryEtchechoury-0051.NEF
Savannah College of Art and Design

AmericasMart Department: Fashion Office
Hometown: La Plata, Argentina
Major/Minor: Luxury & Fashion Management
Hobbies: Boxing, knitting
Career Goal: To become an Apparel Brand Manager.
Greatest Accomplishment: Having 2 children.
What you hope to gain from the program: My first time working in the U.S. so I hope to meet a lot of new people and work hard!

Crystal Hutson
Central Michigan University

AmericasMart Department: Fashion Officecrystal
Hometown: Berkeley, IL
Master’s Program: Apparel Product Development and Merchandising Technology
Hobbies: Traveling, listening to music, and shopping
Career Goal: To become a Fashion Event Director/Coordinator.
Greatest Accomplishment: Becoming a peer mentor for two cohorts of freshmen college scholarship students and becoming a role model and an older sister to all 170 of them. It really brought me joy to see the first cohort graduate and I look forward to the second cohort graduating this upcoming May.
Quote/Phrase you live by: “Success is most often achieved by those who don’t know failure is inevitable.” – Coco Chanel
What you hope to gain from the program: After the completion of this program I wish to have a better insight of the wholesale market industry and gain more experience on planning buying and entertainment fashion shows.

Gracie Jackson
Mississippi State University

AmericasMart Department: Fashion Officegracie
Hometown: Brandon, MS
Major/Minor: Fashion Merchandising and Business Administration
Hobbies: Cooking, traveling & exploring, shopping (of course, I always need retail therapy).
Career Goal: To work in a corporate buying office or assist in photoshoots and runway shows for a magazine or another type of company.
Greatest Accomplishment: Moving to a big city for the summer and interning for AmericasMart
Quote/Phrase you live by: “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
What you hope to gain from the program: I hope to gain new friends, networking skills & connections, and I hope to learn more about my strengths and weaknesses and how I can work on them for my future career goal.

Bryanna Land
Georgia Institute of Technologybryanna

AmericasMart Department: Logistics/Operations
Hometown: Decatur, GA
Major/Minor: Industrial Engineering
Hobbies: Cooking, sleeping, singing
Career Goal: To own a business.
Quote/Phrase you live by: “No mistakes, just lessons learned.”
What you hope to gain from the program: I hope to get understanding of the role that logistics plays in a company and the inner workings of the system.

Susannah Lewis
The University of Alabama

AmericasMart Department: Gift Temporariessusannah
Hometown: Carrollton, GA
Major/Minor: Fashion Retailing/General Business
Hobbies: Traveling, shopping, watching fashion shows, going to concerts
Career Goal: Own my own business/store/company
Greatest Accomplishment: Working hard to pursue my goals in the fashion industry, which has allowed me to intern with companies like AmericasMart and Kleinfeld Bridal.
Quote/Phrase you live by: “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you fail by default.” – J.K. Rowling
What you hope to gain from the program: I am so excited to be a part of this program, as I will be working with the Newbie Program. My main objective with this project is to help new AmericasMart exhibitors feel at ease at their first market as I answer their questions, give them advice and offer a friendly voice to guide them through the process. I am hoping that I help these new exhibitors build their brands just a little stronger than before I contacted them. In turn, this project will give me sales and business knowledge that is invaluable in this industry.

Lauren McDonald
Stetson University

AmericasMart Department: LIGHTFAIR and ICON HONORSlauren
Hometown: Naperville, Illinois
Major/Minor: Marketing / Psychology
Hobbies: Writing, reading, paddle boarding, running, playing lacrosse
Career Goal: To earn a job working in/with the LIGHTFAIR and ICON HONORS department/team when I graduate.
Greatest Accomplishment: Head Coach Christy Leach doubled my athletic scholarship based on my dedication to our Division One Lacrosse team and my work ethic on and off the field.
Quote/Phrase you live by: “If you have respect for people as they are, you can be more effective in helping them to become better than they are.” –John W. Gardner.
What you hope to gain from the program: I want to build and maintain positive professional relationships with my manager and coworkers; contribute at a high level in the LIGHTFAIR and ICON HONORS department; under-promise and over- deliver to make my manger and coworkers happy; learn as much as I possibly can; and enjoy my summer working for AmericasMart – Atlanta.

Anna Messerly
Auburn University

AmericasMart Department: Retail Servicesannamesserly
Hometown: Woodstock, GA
Major/Minor: Apparel Merchandising/ Double Minor in Business & International Affairs
Hobbies: Shopping, running, decorating, and crafting
Career Goal: To, one day, own my own bridal boutique.
Greatest Accomplishment: I started my own monogramming and personalization business at the age of 16.
Quote/Phrase you live by: “Bloom where you’re planted.”
What you hope to gain from the program: I hope to be able to gain experience from another side of the Retail industry. It is interesting to see all aspects of it, so I know which career path I want to go down. It is also exciting to create relationships with buyers from all across the country.

Haleigh O’Connell
Florida State University

AmericasMart Department: Gift Temporarieshaleigh
Hometown: Oviedo, FL
Major/Minor: Retail Merchandising and Product Development/Entrepreneurship
Hobbies: Tie-dyeing and crafting, exploring new places, and eating french fries
Career Goal: To work for a company that I love in the retail industry and eventually own a boutique.
Greatest Accomplishment: Styling Bohemian wear in my first fashion show and receiving an internship before my Junior year of college.
Quote/Phrase you live by: “Tough times never last, tough people do.”
What you hope to gain from the program: Experience in the field

Kendall O’DonnellKendall O’Donnell-Face
University of Mississippi

AmericasMart Department: Gift Home & Rug Marketing
Hometown: Marietta, GA
Major/Minor: Marketing Major with a Business Minor
Hobbies: Yoga, running, staying active
Career Goal: To work in marketing long term.
Greatest Accomplishment: I was on 5 billboards for my smile. It was for an Orthodontist.
Quote/Phrase you live by: “Let your smile change the world, but don’t let the world change your smile.”
What you hope to gain from the program: To meet and network with influential people who will have a positive impact on my future successes while also to make meaningful relationships that will challenge my abilities, and do this job to my best ability!

Morayo Oyewole
Georgia State University

AmericasMart Department: Apparel Tradeshowsmorayo
Hometown: Alpharetta, GA
Major/Minor: Business Economics/Marketing
Hobbies: Cooking, reading, fashion styling, and writing
Career Goal: To consult fashion businesses and become a freelance blogger.
Greatest Accomplishment: Participating in 2 consecutive internships at AmericasMart.
Quote/Phrase you live by: “Thus conscience does make cowards of us all.” –William Shakespeare
What you hope to gain from the program: I hope to gain personal and professional growth that I will keep with me for the rest of my career. I’ve learned so much and it only makes me want learn everything I possibly can.

Stephen Phillips
Clark Atlanta University

AmericasMart Department: Operationsstephen
Hometown: Birmingham, AL
Major/Minor: Criminal Justice/ Political Science
Hobbies: Shopping, Traveling, and quality time with friends and family
Career Goal: To become an Attorney in Educational Law and a Judicial Administrator
Greatest Accomplishment: Being honored by city and state officials in Birmingham for my exemplary work to usher kids in the community to life that many are not accustomed to or do not know exist.
Quote/Phrase you live by: “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”
What you hope to gain from the program: From this program,I hope to gain superior knowledge in the security field. In addition, I hope to increase my level of contacts by networking with members of the AmericasMart team.

Alejandra Trombetta
Georgia State University

AmericasMart Department: Apparel (Jan-Apr), Interior Relations (May-Aug)
Hometown: Caracas, Venezuelaalejandra
Major/Minor: Media Communications, Marketing, and International Business
Hobbies: Travel, cook, exercise, read, and fashion
Career Goal: To become a successful Corporate Event Planner and work in the Event Production Industry.
Greatest Accomplishment: Moving from Caracas to Georgia to pursue the career I wanted, and landing the internship of my dreams that launched my professional life.
Quote/Phrase you live by: “The best time for new beginnings is now.”
What you hope to gain from the program: My main goal at AmericasMart is to get a taste of all the different departments to understand how they work, and to determine the focus I want to give to my career. Moreover, I hope to build relationships with people and network with employees to comprehend what each job entails and get to know the company in a better way.

Kaila Yancey
Georgia State University

AmericasMart Department: Atlanta Convention Center at AmericasMakailart
Hometown: Akron, OH
Major/Minor: Public Relations / Double Minor Hospitality and Marketing
Hobbies: Walking nature trails, dancing, acting, baking and shopping
Career Goal: I would love to have my own Creative Events and Branding Firm
Greatest Accomplishment: Graduating from Georgia State University
Quote/Phrase you live by: “Live, Love, Laugh”
What you hope to gain from the program:I have already gained so much from this program. My department has been very flexible and has allowed me to work on all projects that both the ACC and AmericasMart encounter. I have become more detailed through working events.I have also become a better listener and with organizational skills due to the large events from various industries that the Atlanta Convention Center at holds in their facilities. Most importantly, I have gained a family here at AmericasMart and that is something you wouldn’t expect from the average job. The people here are really great people and when you get to know them you realize how awesome the people are who make up this facility. I hope to continue to learn and take these skills to my next journey.


Learn more about AmericasMart’s internship programs.

The Great Outdoors

Consumers are spending for casual living options

Open any shelter magazine or turn on any home improvement show, and you’ll find talk about outdoor spaces. Whether it’s a prospective home buyer looking for the perfect backyard barbecue, a flipper adding some curb appeal or a designer creating usable recreation space for a growing family, Americans are spending more time—and more money—outdoors. Home builders and architects agree, as they face an ever-increasing demand for outdoor rooms and outdoor spaces for entertaining and recreation. Outdoor features are included in nine out of 10 newly constructed homes.

Outdoor FurnitureAs the demand for outdoor living grows, outdoor furniture sales continue to rise. Backed by rebounding home sales, low mortgage rates and rising consumer confidence, 2015 sales were projected to bring in an estimated $6.8 billion dollars, up 4.5 percent from 2014.

Dining sets continue to lead outdoor furniture sales, topping $2 billion last year and accounting for 48 percent of the market share. According to last year’s Casual Living’s Consumer Buying Trends Survey, 4.7 million households said they planned to purchase an outdoor dining set in 2015, with most spending between $100 and $399 for a set. While the majority of consumers look to home improvement centers and discount department stores when purchasing dining sets, furniture stores are seeing a marked increase in sales.

By ProductOne of the fastest growing segments in outdoor furniture is conversation or chat groups—akin to living room furniture for the outdoors—which may include a combination of chairs, love seats, ottomans and occasional tables, with some sets including fire pits. Households with incomes of $150,000 or more are the chief buyers of chat groups, and they are looking for high style and smart design.

Shade products are also experiencing substantial growth. Modern, movable and repositionable options allow for more comfortable outdoor experiences, while also protecting furniture from the harsh rays of the sun. Umbrellas, shade sails, gazebos and other shade items account for nearly $600 million in sales.

Garden oasis every day
Comfort and style shouldn’t be reserved for indoor rooms. Consumers’ continued desire for the same comfort and style outdoors as they demand inside is driving an industry to evolve and grow. As designers and retailers, you can capitalize on that concept year round by shopping The Gardens® floors at AmericasMart both during Markets and in between.

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There’s unlimited potential for home stores, hardware stores, garden centers, even gift stores to capitalize on the popularity of outdoor living. Think of all the potential customers. Families want to enjoy their decks. Empty nesters want a cozy porch to relax. And new homeowners are eager to build their own nest, complete with versatile outdoor entertaining spaces. Whether it’s furnishing a pool house, finding the perfect comfy chairs for a front porch, using a water feature to add life to a space, or building the perfect evening seating group around an outdoor fire pit, there are product lines at AmericasMart to please any client.

Floors 9 and 10 in Building 2 encompass 170,000 square feet of unique space that feature leading casual lifestyles and gardens companies in a one-of-a-kind outdoor living environment. The floor configuration and product mix encourages shopping for an array of high quality visual displays in a relaxed, vibrant atmosphere. During Markets, the floors provide inspiration down each pathway. And the opportunity is
available every day: Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. The Gardens® staff is always ready to help you find exactly what you need to place orders between Markets.


To learn more, attend What’s in? Going out! Trends for the Ultimate Outdoor Living Spaces presented by Modern Luxury Interiors Atlanta during Fall Design Week featuring Atlanta Gourmet & Gift, September 19 – 23, 2016. Educational Sponsor: Olliix.

For more information on The Gardens® Open Daily opportunities, visit AmericasMart.com or call 404.220.2030 to personally speak with a showroom manager.

Images provided by Windham Enterprises, Summer Classics, RATANA and Castelle.

Alfresco Summers

Teach customers how to create the perfect outdoor table
by Steve McKenzie

Warm weather, long days and starry nights lead us outside, spending time with friends and family, making memories over an alfresco lunch, dinner, drinks and picnics. A little prep ahead of time ensures you are ready to go at a moment’s notice, equipped with the proper entertaining items, creating less stress for you and putting your guests at ease.

Creating the atmosphere
Today’s technology makes it easier than ever to present an impressive outdoor table setting, full of style and design. From melamine dishware that look just like old-world European hand-painted pottery to synthetic crystal and polycarbonate glassware that look and feel like hand blown glass and crystal. Your guests will be delighted with your thoughtful alfresco setting, and you’ll keep your cool in the summer heat.

This season two major color palettes have emerged for outdoor entertaining. The first is the combination of pink and orange. This combination, used in conjunction with greenery or citrus green accents, shouts summer is here. The other big trend is all things blue and white, again. Yes, it is true that traditional blue and white was never really out, but it is so hot this summer. When you set a table with these palettes it tells your guests they are about to enjoy a special experience.

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Selecting the products
Let’s take a closer look at the materials: who provides them and how to care for them. The unbreakable melamine china of
Le Cadeaux comes in more than 11 patterns and 13 solids. It is dishwasher safe and practically indestructible. Your guests will not know it is melamine until they pick it up. They have two fabulous new patterns Tangerine—a beautiful turquoise, light blue and citrus pattern evocative of a Moroccan tile; the second, Havana—in blue and white, celebrates the new open relations with Cuba, bringing a bit of the island to your home.

The crystal and glass looking items of Mario Luca Giusti, made from a synthetic acrylic, feel in weight and design like their crystal counter parts. They come in a wide variety of styles from highball glasses to wine stems and even pitchers. You can set your table and not worry about glass breaking poolside or on the terrace, yet as you look at the table it sparkles and feels like crystal. On the more traditional side of glassware is the acrylic of Baci Milano, also distributed by Le Cadeaux. In its crystal turquoise and blush, it is reminiscent of the delicate pressed glass of a fine crystal house.

Le Jacquard Francais introduced some of their beautiful jacquard cotton weave patterns with an acrylic coating on one side. It is a hardy material, perfect for family meals, that wipes clean with a damp cloth. Occasionally, you can machine wash it, knowing it will withstand years of use. The best part is you do not compromise the beautiful French styling for practical function.

To add the last bit of excitement to your table, Sabre from France has amazing flatware, every color of the rainbow. Accent your table beautifully with their nylon-handled stainless as well as amazing serving pieces in Acrylic with fun patterns in any color you need. All are non-breakable, colorfast and dishwasher safe. With all the new products in the outdoor living market, the only remaining decision is to choose your date, invite your guests and then relax and enjoy.

For more information: Mario Luca Giusti – mariolucagiusti.com or Rosse & Associates, Inc.; Le Jacquard Français – le-jacquard-francais.com or Rosse & Associates, Inc.; Sabre – sabre.fr or Rosse & Associates, Inc.; and Le Cadeaux – lecadeaux.com or Tango.


Steve McKenzie and his wife Jill own a home décor and lifestyle store, steve mckenzie’s, located in Atlanta’s Westside design district. At this location they operate their interior design business and offer a collection of home furnishings, accessories and tabletop as well as a line of textiles derived from his paintings. They parlayed his designs into a line of upholstery, rugs through Verde Home and a line of women’s scarves.

Join us September 19 – 23, 2016 for Fall Design Week featuring Atlanta Gourmet & Gift. Shop in a relaxed environment, spend one-on-one time with your favorite showrooms, and hear speakers like Steve McKenzie, who is participating in a panel entitled Naturally Inspired: How Art, Design and Nature Collide at Serenbe — and the 2016 Serenbe Showhouse. After the panel we will be giving away five complimentary tickets to the Serenbe Showhouse as well as fresh goodies from Serenbe Farms.

Images courtesy of: Mario Luca Giusti, Le Jacquard Francais, Sabre and Le Cadeaux

The History of Who Buys and Why

By Mercedes Gonzalez, owner Global Purchasing Companies

Mercedes GonzalezIt’s not just about trends
Besides knowing what is on-trend, fashion retailers need to understand consumer behavior. Knowing why people buy, what they buy, and how much they are willing to spend (known as consumer price resistance), means understanding where consumers’ values truly lie.

For example, during the financial crisis 2008, people were losing their homes and jobs, but designer shoes, which start at $800, never dipped in sales. Consumers gave up expenses like going out for lunch or taking taxis, but they were not giving up their shoes. They even started shopping at fast fashion retailers, like Zara, and pairing $100 dresses with designer shoes and bags. And guess what? That high-low chic worked and looked great.

But was high-low chic an iconic look of the new millennium? If we take a close look at the whole time period, we see that the common denominator was actually comfort. Every year there was a new crisis: Y2K, 9/11, SARS, the war in Iraq and Anthrax. You get the picture. In times of crisis, people look for comfort; in their clothing (bamboo fabrics), in their footwear (Crocs) and in food. People stopped going out as much and entertained at home. That became the new normal.

Seeing the future
As we examine fashion in this decade, consumers are becoming fatigued on many fronts. Fast fashion is slowly but steadily losing traction. People are tired of walking into a room where everyone is wearing almost the same thing. They are dissatisfied with poor craftsmanship and thinking more about social responsibility when making purchases. They are spending dollars on well-crafted and limited-production items that have an interesting design direction.

Another area of fatigue is the sad or guilt story. Consumers do value items that are ethically made, but there is concern for how genuine these claims are. Even Made-in-the-U.S.A. claims have come into question over items like watches that are assembled in the U.S. but contain parts made overseas.

Which brings me to consumer price resistance. As a rule, it doesn’t matter what things cost you to buy, it only matters what the consumer is willing to pay. There are many factors that go into that judgement, especially the story behind the product. Today’s consumer sees buzz words like “fair trade,” “eco friendly” and “sustainable,” and labels with the maker’s name and photo as the new normal and expects them to be value-adds that don’t correlate to an increase in price. Think about an organic tomato merchandised at Whole Foods in a wood cart with locally made, fresh mozzarella and a hand-painted sign of the farm’s name. You pay top dollar for it because of the story you perceive from the display. Now did you know that Walmart also carries organic tomatoes but at probably half the price?

My end-of-the-year predictions
Boutique retail businesses are thriving. U.S. consumers are not necessarily money-poor, but time-poor. They expect an expert to attend to them during the shopping experience and will pay for it. Investing in properly training your sales staff will be important.
It’s also an election year, and sales typically drop more than normal during the October before the vote. Plan fun, in-store events to help draw customers in, like a how-to workshop that shows them how a favorite summer dress can be layered up for use in winter. I also warn you not to post the slightest hint of anything political.

On the flip side, November should really be an excellent month. Remember, retail is a form of therapy. Consumers who feel relieved from the election will…guess what…go shopping to celebrate, and people who feel sad and depressed over the election, well, they’ll go shopping too. Plan your OTB accordingly.

One last note. Don’t guilt consumers into a purchase. Give them real reasons to buy as opposed to making them feel like they’re doing charity work. Extended store hours, local delivery service, exclusive or limited-edition items, gift wrapping, are just a few touches that bring real value to shopping at your store.

Hear Mercedes Gonzalez speak at August Atlanta Apparel. Visit AmericasMart.com to add her seminars to your Market Plan:
Thursday, August 4:
10:30 a.m. ǀ Capturing the Social Occasion Market
3:30 p.m. ǀ Retail Math

Friday, August 5:
10:30 a.m. ǀ Sweet 15 (Quinceañera)

Room to Grow

Step by step success with a Florida children’s retailer
By Jessica Harlan

When Kelly Leigh couldn’t find the clothing styles she wanted for her son, she did what any entrepreneurial-minded mom might only dream of doing: she opened her own children’s clothing store.

Getting started
She opened Kelly and Kayden in Windermere, Fla., in fall 2015, and quickly discovered that running her own store was far different than managing others. “Working for other industries, I knew my customer and I knew what our brand and focus was,” says Leigh. “But when I started this new adventure, it was unknown.”

But not entirely unfamiliar: she’d been dressing her niece, now 12, as well as friends’ kids for years, and as a new mom herself, she had a specific idea of what design aesthetic she wanted in her shop. “My approach is fashion forward and sophisticated,” she says. “Nothing too frilly, no cartoon characters and no visible branding. It’s clothes that you could buy for great family photos.”

She also has to take into account Florida’s unique climate and customer base. “We have so many people from all different backgrounds,” says Leigh. Plus, she has to choose comfortable fabrics for the hot, humid Florida weather: cotton or other soft fabrics and sleeveless styles are an emphasis. Because she likes to be able to touch and personally inspect everything she carries, most items are bought at AmericasMart and other gift markets.

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Finding the right mix
Leigh has worked hard to finesse her assortment of merchandise. Her layette department is 10 percent; baby products such as toiletries, towels and diaper bags is 5 percent; boys’ and girls’ clothing is 50 percent; jewelry and accessories is 20 percent; shoes is 5 percent; and toys is 10 percent.

Originally her vision was to stock clothes in sizes from newborn to size ten. “Kids have such an opinion around the age of 10, and I didn’t want to address that.” But her big girls’ area has already doubled, and she’s buying sizes up to 16 at the request of her customers, who are looking for cute age-appropriate clothing.

Another area that has grown was hair bows. As a mom to a boy, Leigh was skeptical when her sales rep extorted her to carry them. “She told me that stores can pay their rent just on hair bow sales.” But she listened and now her famous “hair bow bar” stretches seven feet.

Planning for the future
As far as pricing goes, Leigh describes her range as “fairly priced.” Merchandise starts at around $5 and goes up to several hundred dollars for higher-end items like formal wear or communion dresses. “I think if you have a wide range of prices, you don’t single out a particular buyer,” she says.

While toys only comprise about a tenth of her merchandise assortment, they’re an important component. “Toys are easy gifts, and they complement the buying people do here,” says Leigh. She carries educational and high quality brands, such as Melissa & Doug and Jellycat plush animals. And the toys make for fun cross merchandising.

Currently Leigh is her store’s sole employee, but she has big plans for the future. “I see our store becoming one of the leading children’s stores in central Florida,” she says. She’s hoping to have an online shopping platform up and running this summer. Other than that, she plans to “perfect what we have” before taking any more steps to grow.

Read more about Kelly and Kayden in the July 2016 Market Magazine.

For information visit kellyandkayden.com or call 407.217.6902.
Photography by Forever Wild Images.

All Caps

Hats are more top of mind than ever
By Poormina Apte

What’s the go-to, sizzling hot, must-have accessory these days? The answer: Hats. On fashion catwalks, in paparazzi circuits and at everyday occasions, this fashion statement is making headlines — and turning heads.

What’s more, a striking confluence of pop culture trends and influencers — from Coachella and Boho Chic to Downton Abbey and even Princess Kate Middleton — means a sumptuous array of bold or demure styles to satisfy even the most discerning fashionistas.

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Top of the line
Sure, you would like to stock hats but the options are endless: wide-brim, narrow-brim, fedora, cloche, and materials from raffia to suede. Where to begin and how do you know what your customers will like? First rule of thumb: listen to your rep and buy best sellers, advises John Callanan, senior designer and corporate sales at Dorfman Pacific. “Keep away from overpriced, crazy hats until you get a better feel for what you can sell,” he says. Callanan reminds retailers that the sales window on seasonal hats is very short so it’s a better idea to start by sticking with seasonless offerings.

Dolores Page, marketing manager at San Diego Hat Company points out that wide-brim hats that offer sun protection are staples. In fashion, “wide-brim wool felts and fashion fedoras are driving business,” she says.

Start with tonal colors, advises Christy Currie, regional sales manager at Helen Kaminski. “Go with basic colors, medium-sized brim, maybe a classic fedora,” she says, adding that the company’s rollable hats that are easy to pack give customers another reason to buy.

Hat tricks
Not much room to stock hats? Not a problem. “Use the hats to pull looks together in your display window,” suggests Callanan. Along similar lines, Currie recommends creating a head-to-toe statement by throwing some matching jewelry and a beautiful scarf.

Most vendors provide hat stands that don’t take up too much room. Having three hat stands at different heights adds a touch of drama and dimension to the display without subtracting too much floor space, Currie explains.

“Always make sure the hat rack is next to a mirror,” Callanan advises, “the first thing a customer does after putting on a hat is look for a mirror.”

Soaring sales
To have hats sell like hotcakes, wear one yourself and have fun with it. “Never, never sell a hat that does not suit the wearer,” Callanan says, “learn to guide your customer to a complimentary hat style.” Other recommendations: host a Derby wine and cheese night or have an Easter bonnet event.

Some trends to keep an eye on as per Callanan: broad brim fedoras aka panamas. Knit safaris. Knit beanies with fur boggles for winter. The bottom line is whether made from raffia or wool felt, a narrow or wide brim, hats are an accessory that’s hard to top and even better, they offer protection from the elements.

As Currie says: “hats make a high-impact fashion statement. Customers are beginning to realize that putting on a hat just automatically elevates your wardrobe.”

For more information: Dorfman Pacific – dorfman-pacific.com, 800.367.3626; Helen Kaminski – helenkaminski.com, 212.398.3434; San Diego Hat Company – sandiegohat.com, 888.868.0588.

Images courtesy of Dorfman Pacific, San Diego Hat Company and Helen Kaminski.

The Top 10 Most Anticipated Trends for 2016 National Prom Market

Style expert Carson Kressley might not have attended his prom, but he sure does know a thing or two about what we can expect to see on dance floors and pageant stages this upcoming spring. The charming TV personality was the resident tastemaker at the 2015 WORLD OF PROM Market at AmericasMart Atlanta.

Carson scoured the Market in search of the best new looks and hottest trends for prom, pageant, quinceañera, homecoming and social occasion in 2016.

Bring a bit of Carson’s je ne sais quoi back to your store with these style suggestions inspired by the style expert’s favorite items from the 2015 national prom Market:

Feathers

Feathers

Fashionistas of a feather flock together. Feather details add a delicate whimsy and tons of movement to gowns. Look for them in a variety of colors on the skirts of both long and short styles.

Geometric Patterns

geometric patterns (6)

The WORLD OF PROM runway looked like the world’s most chic math class with geometric prints appearing throughout the show. Whether as an accent piece or the dominant design of the dress, these bold prints solve the equation for a memorable prom gown.

Florals

florals (3)

While a floral frock may be a mainstay for spring fashion collections, the look is a fresh for social occasion. The floral representations are as diverse as the blooms they portray ranging from printed fabrics, to appliques and beading.

Metallics

metallics (3)

No spotlights are needed with these shiny and shimmery dresses. New shades such as rose gold, pewter and platinum join classic sparklers gold and silver. Bold ladies go head-to-toe shine while others use it as a show-stopping detail.

Fringe

fringe (2)

The ready-to-wear fringe trend has made it to social occasion. When this dance-floor-friendly element is paired with posh fabrics and the right accessories, there is no doubt the look is just right for a special evening.

White

white, crop top

The wedding day is not the only opportunity for a show-stopping white gown. Youthful silhouettes, fun embellishments and party-ready accessories confirm that the wearer is going to the dance rather than going to the chapel.

Crop Tops

crop top, pastels

The crop top has been on trend for a while now and continues strong for 2016. Designers are updating the look with a crop top/cut outs hybrid that still shows some skin, but keeps the dress as one continuous piece.

1970s Glam

70s glam

Disco fever abounds with 1970s-inspired looks. Dancing queens make a statement with cut-outs, sparkles and party-ready pants-suits. Make sure the styling is modern to keep the look classy instead of costume.

Lace

new lace

Ladies are turning to geometric patterns in lieu of the traditional floral lace that has dominated the social occasion run way for the past few seasons. Blooms are used in a color-on-color technique that adds an interesting texture to gowns of all styles.

Pastels

Pastels, lace

These sweet and feminine shades take it up a notch with head-turning elements. Crop tops, embellishments and even head-to-toe sequins in these heavenly hues yield modern looks that are perfect for spring celebrations.

The WORLD OF PROM market will take place from August 4-8.