Blog | Petit Couture - Part 4

Petit Couture Blog


LA fieldtrip

April 26, 2010

First thing I noticed was LA is SUPER BRIGHT. In Portland, though I wear my sunglasses year-round they are usually very “dark”. In LA, my shades really weren’t up to par. I LOVE THAT! Needless to say, no amount of Vitamin D can be a proxy for real, true sunlight. I love LA. Lets just leave it at that.

Petit Couture showroom in LA

To that end, I had the opportunity to visit one of Petit Couture’s showroom partners at California Market Center. Pics are attached. It was so great to see the Signature Collection pieces merchandised next to other truly innovative and tremendous LA-based lines like Tiny Pants, Skylar, Tooby-Doo, Tiny Revolutionary and Tiny Whales among so many other fabulous brands. The showroom space – which is shared between Grand Avenue Baby and Metropolitan Kids is truly gorgeous and demonstrates the power of tremendous merchandising. Congrats to Michael Anthony Gonzales for his genius display prowess.

Petit Couture merchandising

That said, get ready to see NEW Petit Couture pieces in June at the Kids on 6 Fall II and Holiday show is on. I’m super excited for the Ready-to-Wear collection debut and the pairing along with the Signature Collection is fun, wearable and super luxurious.

xo
Rebecca


Comments: 1 Comment

Category: industry,marketing,retail

It’s a wrap

April 14, 2010

I’ve been meaning to update since this past weekend’s FABULOUS photo shoot with Jennifer Tai of Jennifer Tai Photo Artistry. We spent two days with 8 kids under the age of seven shooting the new Petit Couture Ready-to-Wear collection and updated Signature Collection pieces. Many of which will be ready for sale later this spring and most targeted for ‘on the racks’ by Late Fall/Holiday and Resort/Early Spring. All of the pieces shot will debut in August at ENK in New York.

You’ll see new textures, prints, fabrics and an assortment of pieces that are perfect for special occasion, shopping with mom, playing with a best buddy, or tea with the Queen. Whatever the fancy, we know you’ll love our new pieces from the Ready-to-Wear collection. Ready-to-Wear pieces will retail from between $60 to $140 USD.

And, we’ve updated Signature Collection pieces for layette and play wear – all bearing our classic ‘owl’ motif, but in new colors and organic fabrics. These Signature pieces will be available in the coming weeks and are PERFECT for gift items for your favorite baby or tot. Some previews are attached. Items will retail from between $24 to $45 USD. Be on the lookout for some amazing ‘get ready for summer’ deals to be had. We LOVE them and know you will too!!

xo to all of our fab models, and their parents, – Simone, Sofie, Julien (who streaked more than posed), Solara, Byronie, Kennedy, Fletcher and Evangeline.

Many more updates to follow…..
xo
Rebecca

P.S. Friends, please keep your eyes out for celeb pics and babies with Petit Couture. We’ve recently gifted and need all of the eyes/ears we can have – we’re busy balancing spreadsheets, working on biz pitches, finding the right trim and fabric, shipping products and updating blog posts – sometimes it’s difficult to find the time we need for Perez :( C’est la vie.


Comments: 2 Comments

Category: design,industry,marketing

Spring has sprung and so have we.

April 5, 2010

You may have noticed we’ve been busy on the marketing and PR front lately. We’ve had amazing trade and blog coverage of the line and have even been featured in an editorial spread in April’s Hudson’s Childrenswear Review.

In addition, as we marched out of March and into Spring our little way of celebrating has been to introduce a very cool program run on Facebook that gives the ability for you to both get and give (to all your friends) 20% off the entire collection on petitcouture.com. If you haven’t checked it out you can here.

We truly believe that Petit Couture will be as successful as our friends and family and extended friends and family help us enable it to be. Please do check it out and use the “share” feature to let your friends know about Petit Couture as well – we would love it! :)

Lastly, we’ve overhauled our Newsletter and we’ll begin sending it out at least twice a month with special offers, relevant news, and hot tips. When you sign up for our newsletter, to say thanks, we have a little surprise for you too (we’ll send it to you within a day after you’ve registered).

Sign up for our newsletter here: http://www.petitcouture.com/newsletter/

As always, xo.
Rebecca


Comments: 1 Comment

Category: marketing

Welcome to Spring…updates

April 1, 2010

’11 that is. I’m finalizing the collection which will be ready for Spring ’11 sales (this summer) as well as select pieces for Holiday/Winter ’10. The work-back cycle for sales still confounds me, but it is the buying cycle for the industry. I can move so much more quickly, but it’s important for me to continue to work within the wholesale buying cycle which means that the pieces I’m working on now will largely be unveiled next year. It’s difficult to wait – I agree!!


But, I’m super excited about some of the pieces I’ve put together. I think you’ll like the mix of texture in fabric choices as well as the color story I’ve developed. Primarily reds, yellows, taupe, black (of course – it’s always in fashion), ivory and brown. Spring you say? Yes I say. It’s coming along really well. Below is an image taken as panels for leggings are being printed with the Petit Couture signature brocade. These are truly special leggings. I can’t wait to unveil them!

New pieces will be featured in the upcoming Petit Couture photo shoot scheduled for April 10 and 11 here in Portland. The shoot is over two days to maximize the limited time I have with Jennifer Tai (Jennifer Tai Photo Artistry) as well as the fact that the little models we shoot have a limited window of time we can readily use. Day 1 will be at the Hotel Deluxe; Day 2 in NW Portland at my home as well as surrounding areas. I’m really looking forward to it. I had some GREAT submissions for the infant model search for this event and can’t wait to work with their families. It is an exciting process and fun to be a part of. I love that my kids can still participate in the process. Though, my oldest daughter is nearing her final shoot for Petit Couture given her age. Perhaps tween wear next? Probably best to leave that to Madonna and Lourdes. C’est la vie.

xo
Rebecca


Comments: 1 Comment

Category: Uncategorized

Lessons in Customer Service

March 23, 2010

As I write this, I’m still mystified. I just had a call with a retailer who placed a very small wholesale order, under quantity limits to be specific. And, something has struck me since one of my first retailer discussions last year – there is sometimes an unhealthy tension between manufacturers and retailers which makes the process of doing business counterproductive.

There can be so much distrust going into new relationships that it makes it impossible to feel like you are running a business that you love at all. I have found myself bending over backwards for accounts which consist of very little ($100-$200) as a way to “prove” the worth of Petit Couture and the methods of doing business. I’m continually asked to add additional incentives, all at the “hope” of more distribution for the brand. While I understand that the economy has driven some retailers to be far more cost conscious than potentially in prior years, I really believe in some cases that is an excuse to just be rude. The discussion I just had was painful for me. I’ve been working for a week to honor a request to purchase quantities UNDER the limits I ask for at time of wholesale purchase. Then, in exchange, I ask for payment information. Seems reasonable, right? However, I’m told “NO” that in the past this retailer had been “burned” and that she only pays at time of shipment. And, that if I wanted to do business with her….I would find a way to do so. I’m frustrated…..Seems easy enough, right? It isn’t…here’s why….

Petit Couture is a manufacturer of goods which means that if a garment/accessory isn’t in stock I order and pay for the creation of it. So, the company has to pay to produce items all of the time at minimum re-order quantities with the manufacturer who produces Petit Couture items. In order for there to be some protection for my business, I collect payment AT TIME OF ORDER to ensure that the order is secured and payment can be collected – because Petit Couture has to pay even if the customer doesn’t. Even at this, there is a leap of faith because transactions can be disputed and charges reversed. Then, at time of shipment I run the transaction and ship the order. So, like I said, the reality is that Petit Couture (and any other manufacturer) is liable for charges regardless of whether a retailer or customer chooses to honor their payment. This is a tough road when you’re just starting out and a two-edged sword. I value the relationships I’m making along the way of growing Petit Couture – I’ve made some amazing ones and truly believe in the core values of customer service (Nordstrom is one of the leading retailers in the nation because they sell customer service first!). But, then the irritated business owner who wants to take this personally wants to say “pack it” to this retailer and not look back. Of course, I will not do that. This post is my way of purging the negative :) .

I’m taking a poll….what would you do?


Comments: 3 Comments

Category: Uncategorized

Finding the balance in it all…and a need for faster…..

March 14, 2010

As this week is drawing to a close, I’m finally feeling like myself again. I’m realizing that balancing being a mama to three munchkins, nurturing a fledgling business, trying desparately to run a household (and the financial/bookkeeping/budgeting part is not my fave, i’ll just state for the record right here and now…..), oh and see my best friend and partner in life, Jascha at least a few times a week is, well, exhausting.

I’m laying it out for all of you here because at mid-point this week I needed a pick-me-up. I was feeling low and couldn’t see the forest for the trees. In my mind, things are just not happening fast enough. I spent more time away from my family in the past month than I was comfortable with, lots of kid schedule balancing and work load balancing, and I was well….a bit burned out. Don’t get me wrong….Petit Couture is moving in the direction it needs to be. The company has had some tremendous momentum over the past few months – and, March was, is, a stellar month.

  • Fabulous Zulily.com sale a few weeks ago (items sold out!).
  • Tremendous coverage in both Earnshaw’s and Hudson’s trade publications in March (oh, and I believe there is an interview with me cited in next month’s Hudson’s…at least I conducted my first trade publication interview a few weeks ago in my car on the way to drop off zippers and fabric…. all the while Julien is smashing a banana on the back seat and Sofie is watching Cinderella, again.)
  • Petit Couture officially debuts this month with TWO successful showrooms – Grand Avenue Baby out of LA; and JAG Apparel Group in Dallas. Market dates, in fact, begin this week in Dallas.
  • Petit Couture re-orders are in the works for my beloved Seattle-based retailers, Village Maternity and Bump Maternity in Bellevue Square (thank you, thank you, thank you ladies for continuing to support Petit Couture and carry the line in your wonderful stores). Re-orders mean sales happened and I love that!
  • I had a great first meeting with a national retail buying team in Seattle a few weeks ago which will no doubt help me grow and mature the biz. I also received some great praise from them about the Signature Basics line as well as the ‘in the works’ collection, Ready-to-Wear.
  • I have inquiries from several boutiques across the country due to some fabulous mommy blogger coverage for Petit Couture over the past two months
  • I’m finalizing the Winter ’10 collection as well as Spring 11 silhouettes all in prep for our next photo shoot with Jennifer Tai Photo Artistry which is set for April 10 and 11 here in Portland.
  • I investigated both KIDShow in Las Vegas as well as ENK in NYC last week (it was a fabulous show btw).
  • And, I found enough source material and the right vendors (for the next collections) to feel confident in availability through the season (and, that is a feat people).


  • Now that I’m writing this list, it’s occuring to me that I have accomplished a tremendous amount in the course of a few months on behalf of Petit Couture. The list above is really just Feb and March activities. Whew. I guess my frenetic pace and feeling is due to the fact that I also know what more needs to be done (that list is longer!). And, I’m feeling the strain from not spending quality time with my children (the whole reason I started Petit Couture in the first place) or my husband and working out at my barre classes which I love (I was going 4x/week).

    I know that being an entrepreneur, and a mama-preneur at that, means that in order to see your idea come to fruition and be successful it takes a lot of elbow grease, tenacity, some luck, mega balancing of your life, and massive amounts of patience. But, still…..I just wish things would go a bit faster. I’m reminded of something that a biz mentor told me at the beginning and that is that this business (apparel and any for that matter) will “take longer, be harder and cost more” than you anticipated. And, so it is…….

    I’m tremendously grateful for the progress made to date and I believe now that Petit Couture has representation in a few key regions more momentum will be gained and it is all awesome to consider. Especially when I consider where the business was this time last year. Lots of good creative bones, but not really a business. But, why is it that you/me/we have a need to go fast? And, it never feels fast enough. I need to know.

    Quickly please.

    xo
    Rebecca


    Comments: 9 Comments

    Category: Uncategorized

    my discussion with a retailer…what i learned and next steps

    February 27, 2010

    Last week in between my son having a bout with RSV, a significant launch for my husband’s company (and countless tasks and hours for him at work), four school musicals in one week for my oldest daughter and the creation of seven bee costumes, I managed to prep and present to larger retailer in Seattle. Whew. On all accounts. I’m honestly to happy to have just made it through it all.

    I’m going to share some things I learned with you in that discussion.

    1.) Infant wear can be ‘evergreen’. (a term we used at Microsoft to describe something that can live longer than say something that is seasonal);
    2.) Toddler wear is purchased on trend and fashion
    3.) Traditional (pastels, bunnies, puppies, etc.) infant wear and toddler wear is categorized as “classic”. And, “classic” is comprised of ruffles, bows, pink, sparkle, etc. (I love this and so does one of my daughers) – at least for this retailer
    4.) Overall, retailers are starting to branch out into a newer, younger buying demographic of ‘moms’ called “Modern Mom” – of which Petit Couture fits in nicely
    5.) Assortment is KEY for emerging brands as well as tried and true;
    6.) Operational foundations are CRITICAL in working with major retailers (I knew this – but, things like ensuring you have all of your trademarking, CPSIA certification documentation in order as well as meeting all requirements, supply chain, etc.)
    7.) It takes a village to launch a brand…and buyers make the final decisions based on data, gut and preference. They have to make sure that you not only have a sustainable brand (that has more than one season in you), but that YOU have a solid business foundation (to make your brand something with legs) and that your product has a purpose and fit within their store’s line up. This all makes sense, but the ‘cocktail’, at the right price point for THEIR customer, is not an easy balance to strike. I’m told, that Petit Couture has the makings for such balance and that is tremendous feedback as I work to mature this brand and company.

    I feel very energized by this discussion and I now have some tremendous contacts and solicited invaluable feedback about the line (Signature Collection AND the emerging Ready-To-Wear Collection that I’m working on – for release later this Spring/Summer). They loved the pieces and appreciated the attention to detail, the thoughtful use of texture and assortment as well as the color story I have developed for Fall/Winter 2010 and Spring/Summer 2011 for the Ready-to-Wear pieces. We discussed the potential to start with a test roll-out for the Signature Collection infant wear line (because it is evergreen and primary purchases are for giftables so ‘owls’ can be something on shelves routinely and not necessarily be something that is risky of being ‘tired’ to customers). As “classic” is a sure thing in the store, “Modern Mom” isn’t so the idea is to test Petit Couture in select locations that do well with more fashion-forward stores. No specific ETA, there is a potential for Spring, but MANY operational details to work out prior. It could be later this year. Regardless of timing, I am thrilled with the discussion and opportunity to discuss Petit Couture with so many incredible business drivers in this industry.

    Much to discuss prior to unveiling or moving on anything, but wanted to share this momentum at any rate. I’m feeling pretty proud of how Petit Couture is developing and look forward to sharing more….

    xo
    Rebecca


    Comments: 2 Comments

    Category: Uncategorized

    the problem with tradeshows

    February 17, 2010

    I just returned from Las Vegas where I attended both KIDShow and MAGIC. Two dramatically different tradeshows that showcase established and emerging apparel, accessory brands and sourcing manufacturers. I’m considering showing Petit Couture through shows like KIDShow and ENK (MAGICKids ironically is too small) in the fall timeframe (spring/summer buying season). KIDShow in particular has a great reputation for being a solid West Coast show where many brands have showcased their products (more on that below) but I was struck by the energy of the show itself.

    1.) I’m the founder and primary funding source for an emerging brand. I love what I do, but I want it to make money;
    2.) This is fashion people, I expect art and fantasy;
    3.) I have had the luxury of attending and hosting events in the past where bells, whistles and then some were standard…..the energy left me re-charged and re-focused and connected to my business purpose;
    4.) Tradeshows are expensive to attend as an exhibitor (on average for childrens’ all-in $6k), I want to feel like the experience is a memorable one where people walk away having a good time, making money, making connections and feeling good about the time away from family and friends.

    I had anticipated a room that was more ‘creative’ in style that evoked the fantasy of ‘shopping’. I was expecting bells and whistles. MAGIC delivered that, but due to the fact that booths were largely enclosed it was incredibly difficult to see who was where (at least at the Platform show). There was a coolness to MAGIC, but no vibrancy. KIDShow had amazing lines and GREAT people working the show (reps, designers, founders and the event staff), but left me confounded. Do I? Don’t I? Is it the right fit? Did anyone at that show book the type of business they needed to? Did they have fun?!??? Did the lines there make back what they paid to be there?

    I want to know what has happened and was the invigoration ever present? Is it because it’s a down economy and shows are struggling? Is it just the ‘culture’ of apparel shows? Is it because it is ‘fashion’ and it’s uncool to be excited? (Seriously, even in 3″ wedges I would still jump for joy and hug someone if they booked an order – cool or not).


    Hudson’s “Maze” Display – Super Cute!


    Don’t get me wrong, I saw some great, established brands like 3 Pommes (I love this line!), Tea Collection, Cach Cach, Kate Quinn Organics and Diesel. And, some amazing emerging brands like Cutie & Patutus (a mama-preneur like me based in South Carolina), Tiny Pants (a great new brand out of LA from a former stylist – and maker of my favorite piece seen at the show – a raincoat that is fabulous. Seen in the above pic.) and Tiny Whales (super cute urban-inspired line out of Orange County – and their owner/designers love owls!).

    This all said, I will book shows for Petit Couture in the future. But, I am still hunting for the right one. It is part of the process, but fit is critical as are the sheer volume of buyers walking the show. I’m super happy that I invested the time PRIOR to investing significant money in a show that might not be the right fit for the brand or product line. I’m going to investigate ENK next (in New York and I’m told it is a great show). And, there are regional shows that Petit Couture will be at – NW Market Association March 20 – 22 – and I’m considering gift shows and possibly NW Kids in Seattle.


    Rita Polidor O'Brien, Rebecca Kaykas-Wolff
    Rita Polidori-O’Brien of Earnshaws and Me

    I would be remiss if I neglected to write about having the pleasure of spending quality time with Rita (pic of the two of us here), Erwin and Angela from Earnshaws. They are fabulous individuals and tremendously insightful members of their industry. I’m fortunate for the time spent and look forward to future meetings and discussions about technology, strappy shoes, battery life for our beloved iPhones, kids, politics and more….

    Any recommendations for the right show for me?

    xo
    Rebecca


    Comments: 6 Comments

    Category: industry,marketing

    Special Petit Couture Event – on Zulily.com

    February 14, 2010

    Hello! Quick post to let you know about a special Petit Couture sales event. We’ve partnered with Zulily.com (member-based premium shopping experience for childrens items) to bring you an amazing Petit Couture sale. I’m thrilled to be able to offer Petit Couture at such great prices through this special event. Some of our best selling items will be available like our Signature Burnout Ts, Mama Raglan Ts, Infant One-Pieces, Loungy Gown and more. Don’t miss it!

    Zulily.com Icon


    Be sure to check out the sale on Wednesday, Feb. 17. http://www.zulily.com.

    And here is an event reminder from our Facebook Fan page. Event Details.

    xo for now.
    Rebecca


    Comments: 0 Comments

    Category: Uncategorized

    Early Packaging Concepts

    February 10, 2010

    Petit Couture packaging

    Happy Wednesday everyone!

    For the past several months I’ve been working with a tremendous branding and packaging agency here in Portland, Sandstrom Partners. They are known for their meticulous approach to design and the scale of such design for commercial use. They have made much of the packaging for consumer goods that I personally buy routinely – just for the packaging! And, I was fortunate enough to meet Jack Peterson, Sandstrom’s president, over the past several months and they loved the brand in Petit Couture and the initial work we created with letterpress. I asked them to help me mature the brand and create a visual ID system and packaging concepts that retailers, and I, would love. I’m sharing some of the ‘sneak peek’ work with you today. I’d love to hear your thoughts. I believe we’ve come up with some tremendous concepts and something that is fresh, inviting and will truly help Petit Couture stand apart on shelves and be something treasured and discovered in a favorite store. But, I’m a bit biased ;) . Sally Morrow is the creative director whose brilliant concepts these are and I am forever grateful for her thoughtful approach in working with the Petit Couture concept as it is now and extending that in such a meaningful way. And, many thanks to Maddie ONeill who’s project management guidance has been ever-valuable!


    Petit Couture Packaging Concept



    The idea is that each of the Signature Petit Couture gift sets and separates can “live” in one of these special boxes. The woodgrain is meant to mimic the owls home in a whimsical way and will be a letterpress treatment. Accompanying hangtags and collateral (look books) will complete the ID system.

    Please share your thoughts. Next stop: $ for producing these lovely pieces :) All in a days work for a start-up ;) .

    xo
    Rebecca


    Comments: 3 Comments

    Category: Uncategorized