Stylish Inspiration: Kayne Gillaspie of Johnathan Kayne

Johnathan “Kayne” Gillaspie is the President and Creative Director of Johnathan Kayne. Born and raised in Nashville, TN, he became enamored by fashion by watching his favorite country music legends perform and walk the red carpet. Two stints on Project Runway (season 3 in 2006 and All Stars season 2 in 2012) plus appearances on ABC, Bravo, E!, NBC, TLC and The Style Network have earned him celebrity designer status and a roster of star clients. Heidi Klum dubbed him a “genius designer” and Michael Kors lauded him as “a designer who knows how to make clothes and fit a woman’s body.” Stars across the entertainment spectrum including Jennifer Lopez, Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride, Kelly Pickler, Tanya Tucker, Lee Brice, Rascal Flatts and his favorite country legend Dolly Parton have worn his designs. He is a magna cum laude graduate of The Fashion Institute of Technology.

Kayne showcases gowns in his Johnathan Kayne showroom

We caught up with Kayne as he prepared his largest Fall collection to date for the April 2017 VOW | New World of Bridal Market.

Tell us about your creative process.

When I design, I really think about the woman. In social occasion, it is so important to know your customer. Where is she going? What is she thinking? What does she want to look like and how does she want to feel?

If my customer is wearing a social occasion gown, it’s because this is an important day or evening for her.  We have the girl who has been nominated for the Homecoming Court, the woman hosting a gala and the pageant contestant who has a shot at the title. Or maybe it’s her first time wearing gown.

I keep all of this in mind and once I see fabrics, I put everything into place.

What is the design cycle?  

I start on the Fall collection right after the Spring show closes. For this collection, I started earlier than ever – I actually spent 200 percent more time on it!

In October, I created the sketches for the gowns and sent them and my mood boards to my factory.

In January, I went to the factory to see how everything was coming together.

We received the samples in March. We photographed them and prepped them to show to our buyers at Market.

Where do you see social occasion fashion going?

The biggest shift is in the new generation. Designers have to have something new and innovative to keep them interested. Social media shows consumers something beautiful and inspirational all the time, so we have to keep up.

We stick to our guns by creating the sexy gowns that we are known for, while innovating the construction. For example, one of our new gowns has a hidden zipper in the plunge that makes it versatile and work for multiple women. We also have convertible pieces that can change up the look of the gown so it can be worn multiple times while looking fresh and new.

What are your three tips for success for social occasion retailers?

  1. Look at the girl’s body and how she is built. Know your gowns’ construction so you can make recommendations that will flatter her the most.
  2. Talk to the customer and see what her vision is for her gown. Ask what she is dead set on and what can be compromised. Then go the extra mile to get her exactly what she wants.
  3. Do it with grace and be good to people. Truly be humble and thank your customers for their business. Do it with a smile.

Johnathan Kayne is located on Building 3, Floor 10-E332.

Millennial Staff

Set Your Store up for Success: Tips for Working with Millennials
By Christina O’Flaherty

Today’s Millennials have been one of the most talked about generations since Baby Boomers. And it’s easy to see why: they’ve surpassed Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation, according to population estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau.

With Millennial employees in full force, how do they relate to your store? Retail and consumer trend experts Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender help retailers understand how recognizing and taking advantage of generational differences can benefit their businesses.

What generations are in the workplace today?
Baby Boomers Thought to be born between 1946-1964.
Generation X Thought to be born between 1965-1979.
Millennials Thought to be born between 1980-1995.
Generation Z Thought to be born between 1996-2010 (some now entering workforce).

fotolia_69041822Is there a difference in how Millennials and Baby Boomers work?
“Boomers were highly marketed to, and people wanted to know what they wanted. They thought they were special but there was also a competitiveness with them. Growing up, if Boomers flunked a class, they flunked. If Millennials flunked a class, they were given a do over.

Millennials have had a voice in decision making since they were kids. What that tells us is that Millennials want to participate. They’re not happy going to work at a place where they’re just told what to do. They want to be part of the decision making. They want to know why you went to this market over another one because they want to actively participate in their careers. And that’s one of the biggest hurdles for retailers to get over.”–Georganne Bender

How can retailers utilize Millennials in their stores?

Appoint a vice president of pop culture.
Staying on the pulse of what’s happening is crucial to success. “Pop culture is really big in our lives, and celebrities have a lot of influence on what we buy and what we do. Millennials, and Generation Z, are going to be closer to that than a Boomer would be. They know what’s trending.”–Georganne Bender

Ask for their opinions and use them.fotolia_62849503
Kizer suggests that you “Ask them what’s a problem, or an issue, or way of styling product, or what should we do on social media.”

From that discussion, you’re collaborating as a team for the answers. “That creates a family that is very solid. And it’s a family that is not just relating to themselves, but to those new customers that are walking through the front door.”–Rich Kizer

Make the environment fun and engaging.
“They should be allowed to look for new ways to present merchandise and be constantly experimenting. They should have a sense of ownership and be encouraged. That’s what they’re all about.”–Rich Kizer

Meet every morning or during shift changes.
Getting Millennials involved from the beginning sets your whole team up for success. “I have a friend that meets with staff every morning for 10 minutes before her store opens. She tells them what’s going on in the store for the day, discusses retail news they might need to know, and has each employee take turns picking out a product that they like, or that’s new, to show and tell and talk about. It makes people so much more engaged and a part of the store.”–Georganne Bender

Train yourself and your staff.
It’s important to not only regularly train employees, but owners should also be open to educating themselves on how they can work better with Millennials. “We need to train the owners to understand that they need to do training. It’s not just about who can be on the floor or who can work tonight.”–Georganne Bender

“There are benefits beyond the sales floor. This generation is the generation that communicates like nobody else. If they like their job, they’re going to communicate that and bring more people like them into the store.”–Rich Kizer

Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender are professional speakers, authors and consultants on generational diversity, consumer trends, and everything retail. For more of their expertise, visit their Retail Adventures blog.

Local Love with Larry Lucas

Larry Lucas has been a familiar face on the AmericasMart campus since the 1970s. Lucas recently retired from his eponymous showroom, Larry Lucas, Inc. after nearly 40 years. Prior to his wholesale career, Lucas owned a successful 10,000-square-foot gift and floral shop in Sandy Springs, Ga. He will periodically share his expertise with us on the AmericasMart blog.

This holiday season, consumers can positively impact their communities by choosing to shop local. Studies over the past ten years have repeatedly shown that a greater percentage of every dollar spent in locally owned businesses stays within the community. Shifting just 10 percent of spending to independent shops rather than chain stores can significantly boost an areas economy and create jobs.

American Express’ Small Business Saturday initiative on November 28 helps kick off the holiday shopping season and encourages consumers to spend their dollars at small AMEX_Shop_Small_Street_CMYK_SOLID_Logobusinesses. Make the most of your participation and energize your community by organizing a street party. Ask other store owners to put a table display in front of their shops, suggest restaurants serve samples to passersby and organize activities for kids to make the day more of an event. Be active in rallying other merchants, your Chamber of Commerce, Junior Chamber and elected officials to get involved. You can make it happen!

It’s not just about the holidays. Help keep your local economy thriving throughout the year by purchasing supplies from area retailers rather than big box stores and hiring independent firms for supporting business services like accounting and cleaning. You can also have an effect by carrying products that are mostly – if not all – American-made. Then look for regionally produced pieces and, finally, get hyper-local by purchasing from artisans within your own city.

shop local eco denizenLet people know what you are doing to make a difference. Reach out to your local newspaper, radio and TV stations with your message and send information about your shopping events and initiatives to churches, schools and clubs.

Fashion Shows – To Do or Not To Do? That is the Question

By T.J. Reid, Editor of Fashion Advantage 

TJ ReedRecently when a retailer sent in a question for our membership to answer. She asked, “Does anyone charge for giving fashion shows? It seems like it takes so much of our time away from the store, etc.?” Many replies were given, so here below I used some in my article.

But first, do you know what a fashion show actually is? Many people confuse it with a trunk show, in-store modeling, and accessory demonstrations or style workshops. None of those qualify as a “fashion show.”

A fashion show is an event put on by a fashion designer to showcase his or her upcoming line of clothing during Fashion Week. (I have been many times in New York, and it is quite exciting, and very short – a matter of minutes.)   Stores do fashion shows within their community to present their current season merchandise and/or to entertain & support civic groups, charities. (These are generally an hour or more long – a social event, that sometimes in addition to models, also features guest speakers, musical talent, live and silent auctions, etc.). 

OK, so as a store owner, how do you know when to say “yes” to a school group or charity or even the chamber when they ask you to participate?

A Florida retailer said: “I only do fashion shows out of the store for 125-150 or more  attendees.  I always give them a gift certificate or store bucks or some kind of incentive to get them to the store.  If the show is away, just jewelry and accessories.  It’s just too much to carry all of the sizes.    I try to limit the number of show out of the store to two a season.  I can focus more on two great shows than a lot of smaller ones.  My clothes do not get shop worn, and I am not exhausted at the end of the season.”

Kansas store owner offered: “We do not do shows for crowds of less than 20. It is not worth our time or expense to do so. If there is a crowd of less than 20, we have given fashion presentations (talks) that cover the latest trends, colors and styles. We can do this with just two of us.”

From Iowa: “We do fashion shows all the time.  We actually take the items the gals are wearing to sell right after the show (a rolling rack of clothes). We offer all customers $5 off on clothing items and we give back 10 percent of sales to the club or organization.  I love doing outside events, I never think they are too much work. I always do my own commentary and we get huge business from doing these shows.  It always drives traffic to our store in the days to follow.”

From Kansas: “We don’t charge, but we ask to set up a mini-store to sell while there, to help offset the employee costs, and costs of being out of the store.”

From Kentucky:  “We do in-store modeling, and also modeling at a restaurant next door at lunch about once a season.  It is easy to add and change accessories from the rack.”

From Illinois: “I never do a show and unless they let me set up a table to sell scarves, purses, jewelry – lots of accessories that are easy to transport and easy to sell.  I then give shoppers a coupon off any sale they make back at the store in the next week!”

From Missouri: “I have min-shows during lunch hours, inviting customers to bring in their bag lunch and join us!  They come and go for about two hours. Quick, fast paced – we furnish the soft drinks and tea, and a spot to sit.  Draw names from attendees at 5 p.m. for a gift certificate.”

And the suggestions and great advice went on and on. But before you start, there are so many things to consider: Where? When? What Time? Refreshments? Door Prizes?   Discounts? Stage/Audience Set-up? Models? Tickets? Music? Who benefits?

One final piece of advice: You should always be the emcee. Even if it is a group show with other stores, attendees give all the credit and accolades to the emcee. Also make sure the last outfit of the show is from your store! It’s the one they remember!

So it sounds complicated? Your fellow retailers are always willing to share their experiences and expertise with you. Come see me at AmericasMart, and join other store owners at my networking at 5 p.m. on Friday June 6, in the Floor 8 buyers lounge. Bring your questions; leave with answers! Love to see you! And don’t miss my workshop on Saturday, June 7 at 10 a.m. on Floor 8 for more retail how-to’s

T.J. Reid is editor of FASHION ADVANTAGE magazine. Pick one up at market. You’ll love it! Visit or  call 800-221-8615 for more information.

Winning Those Mother’s Day Dollars

By T.J. Reid, Editor of Fashion Advantage 

TJ ReedMother’s Day is one of my favorite holidays in the store, and it should be yours, too. You may not realize, but $16.3 billion are spent each year on Mother’s Day gifts and cards. (Card total is $133 million sold, making it the number three card holiday behind Christmas and Valentine’s Day).

And it’s not just cards they are buying; the average amount spent on mom is $126.90. That’s a lot of cards, flowers, apparel, jewelry, dinners, and weekend getaways.

Not only are folks buying for their mothers, 20 percent of all men buy for their wife, 9 percent buy for their daughters, 8 percent for their granddaughters, 7 percent for their friends and 2 percent for their grandmothers.

Although 69 percent of Mother’s Day purchases are for flowers, jewelry ranks at 11 percent and apparel comes in at 6 percent. (That’s not bad, 6 percent of $16.3 billion?). When asked, 10 percent of daughters say they would buy clothes for mother, but only 5 percent of sons agree. This is one of the reasons, retailers need to target the daughter-in-laws; encourage them to do the gift shopping. It makes more cents!

Everybody likes mothers! Ninety-six percent of all consumers take part in Mother’s Day in some form, and Mother’s Day gets 25 percent of the money spent on all holidays throughout the year. In one survey, 25 percent of mothers say they would like to receive a gift card so they could chose their own gift.

Retailers should offer special incentives for gift card purchases. Perhaps the same as we do with Valentine’s Day: offer a rose with each card. Gift wrap the card as if it were a huge gift. Make it beautiful; something she’ll be excited to open, and something she’ll love and appreciate!

In my book, What Mother Never Told Ya About Promotions, on pages 54-55, you will find a complete list of ideas for Mother’s Day events to create excitement and additional sales in your store.

To learn more about this and other promotional ideas, LIKE Fashion Advantage on Facebook. I try to post on a regular basis with new creative ways to help you entertain and reward your customers.

T.J. Reid is editor of Fashion Advantage magazine, and author of several books on successful retailing. She is a frequent speaker at the Atlanta Apparel Markets. For more information about her, please visit

Here Comes Peter Cottontail – Check His Wallet!

By T.J. Reid, Editor of Fashion Advantage 

TJ ReedThis year’s late Easter will keep all retailers waiting on edge to see if the extra time will bring a larger basket of bucks.  Spring will already be sprung, and certain early season apparel groups almost headed for the sale racks. Start promoting those summer brights and early pastels on arrival; can’t wait for the bunny.

But never fear, consumers are on schedule to spend $17.2 billion dollars before the April 20th holiday.  Although a large bundle of that is for food, decorations and candy, there is still a sizable figure making its way into the Mom and Pop local stores.

National Retail Federation figures say 25.4 percent of shoppers will spend $3 billion on clothing, $2 billion on chocolates and candy, and $2 billion on gifts and greeting cards.  Over 80 percent of all Americans will participate in Easter, an average of $145 each.  Surprisingly, men will spend 17 percent more than women, although at all other times of the year, women outspend them.  Let’s hope they’re spending it in apparel stores, buying jewelry, clothing and gift cards for their significant others. (Offer Chocolate bunnies with each gift card! No girl can pass on that.)

easter 2014, gifts for easter, gifts for easter 2014, selling easterFirst we have to get them in the store. I don’t think price is the answer, because most shoppers will be waiting till close to the date, which always means they are rushed and not caring about the cost, just the time and ease of selection.  I suggest fun events and promotions to attract their attention and creative a festive atmosphere to encourage participation and spending.

In my book, “What Mother Never Told Ya About Promotions”, there are details about “Egg-citing” and also ‘Basket of Savings,” both which are easy, simple and inexpensive to do.

Basket of Savings is placing an Easter basket filled with plastic eggs, the ones that can be filled with candies or other goodies, near the check-out counter or even at the front door.  Inside each one, put a discount number, beginning at 15 percent up to 50percent, and ask customer to “pick an egg.”  You can do this, at the register after they have finished shopping before they check out, or you can allow them to choose on arrival so they already know how much discount they have to use.

I personally feel the latter usually encourages more spending, but some retailers prefer the surprise at the end.  Either way, use the chart in my book to determine discount amounts and numbers, such as in a total of 100 numbers, you have one 50 percent, 5 at 40 percent, 10 at 30 percent, 20 at 20 percent, and finally the balance at 15 percent.  Never go as low as 10 percent, it will make no impression on the customers, and almost make the contest seem unimportant and cheap. When sales figures are totaled, I promise those discount contest markdowns will still be profitable, and fun!

easter 2014, gifts for easter, gifts for easter 2014, selling easter“Egg-citing” is a catch phrase for whatever you want to do.  Some stores have actual Easter egg hunts in the store, placing prizes in pockets and purses, etc.  and offering hints throughout the store from dressing rooms to checkout. Many have coloring contests for the local kindergarten and use pictures as wall display – family members flock in to see their young artists on display.  Use your imagination.  Just do something!

Take the opportunity to post some of the activity  in pictures on your Facebook page as it is happens. Share the fun and friends will want to come join in. Again, don’t forget the chocolate eggs, and why not add some bunny ears on the staff?

To learn more about this and other promotional ideas, you can attend my workshop, “Planning Special Events – How-Do, How Much, When and Why” on Saturday, April 5, on AmericasMart Building 3 Floor 8 during the upcoming April Atlanta Apparel Market.  And LIKE Fashion Advantage on Facebook.  I try to post on a regular basis with new creative ways to help you entertain and reward your customers.

T.J. Reid is editor of Fashion Advantage magazine, and author of several books on successful retailing. For more information about her, please visit

Ghouls and Ghosts Can Mean Money

By T.J. Reid, Editor of Fashion Advantage 

ming wang 257The first days of October have brought cooler weather across the country. Driving through my rural southern area, I already see the Halloween flags; the pumpkins and straw scarecrow decorations out in celebration in my neighborhood. My friends love the spooktacular holiday, and can’t resist participating in the fun of costume, decorations, and candy corn. (And there is no scarcity of trick-or-tweet sweet goodies already on the shelves.  Unfortunately, It is also being purchased and eaten now, long before the kids show up at the door!)

According to NRF’s Halloween Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, nearly 158 million consumers will participate in Halloween activities, slightly less than the survey high of 170 million people last year. Those celebrating will also trim their budgets, with the average person expected to spend $75.03 on décor, costumes, candy and fun, down from $79.82 last year. BUT Overall, average spending on Halloween has increased 54.7 percent since 2005, with total spending estimated to reach $6.9 billion in 2013.*
Since 43.6 percent of people plan to dress up for the evening, money will be flowing for both children and their adult counterparts and even the family pooch.  Totals for adult costumes will reach 1.04 billion dollars, and $330 millions will be spent on outfits for pets!

Although some shoppers have already begun (32% before the end of September), there are still lots of folks out there searching for just the right thing; 36% won’t event start until the last 10 days prior to the big day.  It is estimated for the entire holiday, shoppers will spend $2.08 billion on candy and $360 million on greeting cards.

Whether you are a children’s store, a gourmet store, or even just a ladies apparel shop, there are so many ways for you to participate and profit from this holiday! Why not offer a discount to anyone who shows up in costume? Offer a prize (a small gift certificate) for the best costume.  Then, Even after the day, have them bring in their Halloween photos for your bulletin board and have customers vote on the best, the scariest, the weirdest. It’s November by then and your Christmas is out!  Make them look.

I used to dress up as a witch – long black wig, pointed hat, tattered dress, white make-up with even the warts added.  Shoppers came by just to see, but also have their picture made with the witch. It was more fun that photos with Santa and the ladies participated, not just the kids!  On the counter I had a basket of tiny pumpkins and a promotion called “Pick a Pumpkin.”   Each pumpkin had a discount on the bottom (sort of like pick-a-duck at the county fair), and shoppers loved the surprise of an extra bargain. And I was then acknowledged as the “Good Witch of the South!”

T.J. Reid is editor of Fashion Advantage magazine, and author of several books on successful retailing.  She presentsBe Your Own Publicist” with a lesson on creating an effective advertising and promotional campaign on Saturday, October 19 at 10 a.m. at the October Atlanta Apparel Market.

(*The survey discussed above was conducted for NRF by Prosper Insights & Analytics. The poll of 5,290 consumers was conducted September 3-10, 2013. The consumer poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.3 percentage points. )