Brand Assembly LA Market: SS17 Buyer Diaries
When it comes to our designer community, last week's LA show proved to be nothing short of inspiring.
To celebrate another successful market we wanted to share some perspective from the point of view of not only the Brand Assembly team and roster of designers but the buyers too! We caught up with the teams behind stores including Inland Venice, Whiskey & Leather and Althouse to learn more about their respective businesses, market agendas and their advice for designers looking to engage with contemporary boutiques. Learn more below and meet the owners behind each of these coveted shops.
I’m Kristin Fedyk (the Canadian) and Alberto Hernandez (the Mexican hat making sensation… Ricky Martin who?) is my other half in life and business.
We are both international creatives that decided to risk everything, move to Venice and set up shop. We initially met because we both had boutiques next to each other on Abbot Kinney, but since the whole commercial game changed down there, we also changed our take on retail and we moved to open Inland, providing a unique shopping experience for our clients. While we both do all the buying and decision making, I run the day-to-day business and style clients both in-store and privately, while Alberto (a third generation hat maker whose work was just admitted into the CFDA… what what!) styles private clients while also making custom hats.
Kristin's Market Agenda:
We try to always go early to market since we both work back on the westside every afternoon. This means Alberto, who prides himself on being a morning person, is up around 6-7AM at the gym and then wins at life. I on the other hand am not, so I hit snooze and snuggle our dog till 7:30AM. I meditate, power shower and smoothie (so it’s a breakfast to go) since we have to sit on the I10 for our commute downtown (LA life). I’m blessed that since I have Alberto to drive us, I can check emails, handle some social media and confirm any last minute appointments. We used to plan our market by hour to hour appointments, but since our personality/style is really more go with the flow-don’t rush or feel pressured we just let people/showrooms know what morning we’ll be swinging in and it’s worked out much better for all of us. I'm extremely visual, so I’ve always gone through look-books prior and have key pieces in my mind I want to make sure we see. We start our market meetings by 9AM and are usually heading back to Venice by 1PM to get back to work. Shout out to all the showrooms and brands with AWESOME food and snacks! We appreciate you!!
What is your advice for designers looking to capture the attention of a store like Inland?
Authenticity and approachability. Straight up, we like working with NICE people… no matter how cool your brand is, be lovely, be real, be YOU.
For those who are not familiar with Inland how would you describe your customer community?
Our clients are trusting us to find the most unique and innovative designs. Venice is a creative hub, so we are blessed to have all types of clients, who range from as young as 9 to 60+. To achieve this, we try to keep an open mind and engage with each brand to get the story behind what we are buying and share that with our clients to build brand loyalty. We strongly stand behind what we buy. We are particularly drawn to handcrafted items by global artisans and designers. We live in such an "AMAZON-on your doorstep tomorrow” fast fashion culture. It’s nice to know the items we are selling are made with intention and thoughtfulness. You feel it in the quality of the item.
What do you assemble daily?
Two years ago when I turned 30 I started hearing voices. I had just opened my first shop on the “infamous” Abbot Kinney and thought I had everything balanced and figured out. Not to worry, the voices were only my intuition trying to get me to listen… letting me know that I didn’t need to do things the cookie-cutter way. There is such a false urgency in this industry that can really make you crazy if you don’t stay grounded in yourself. I constantly work on staying balanced, listening to my intuition in both life and in business (especially when buying - it’s all connected!). Perhaps this is why I now meditate, before I check my emails. I want my day to start with a clear intention set for myself, and I think that comes out in my work.
Hi my name is Zee Chew.
I was born in Ottawa Canada but moved to Northern California when I was very young. I grew up in a small town on the coast right below the Oregon border. I went to college at UCSB with a degree in Costume Design. After college I moved to LA to work as an assistant celebrity stylist for a year before I realized that LA was not the place for me. I moved back up to Santa Barbara where I met my business partner while we were both working at the same boutique. Ariel and I are both co-owners of Whiskey & Leather. Ariel is the business mind behind the company while I am more of the creative side. In our free time we like to shop, go to the beach and go out for drinks. Ariel is originally from Seattle Washington and moved here for school also.
Zee's Market Agenda:
I wake up at 6:30AM, pick up Ariel at 7:30AM and drive down to LA from Santa Barbara. We go over our schedule and budget while we are driving down. At 10AM we grab coffee and a snack before heading to our first appointment. We then run through 3-5 appointments and around 2PM grab lunch - then head back into more appointments. Around 7PM we grab a cocktail and dinner with some of our favorite reps.
Zee's Market Essentials:
Phone, appointment notebook - with budget and info about what we already have coming in for those month. Also a pen and pencil, chapstick, wallet and business cards.
For those who are not familiar with Whiskey Leather how would you describe your customer community?
Our customer is someone who is comfy and casual but likes to get dressed up for a night on the town. Our style is easy California living with an eclectic mix of fun cool unique pieces. When I am at the show I hope to see some new cool brands that I have never seen before mixed in with my good old faithful brands we carry year round. I'm always on the search for amazing fabrics for garments so that is an easy way to catch my eye. I am always looking for new accessories lines as well.
What do you assemble daily?
One thing I assemble daily is something new to inspire my life. Be it art, food, style, clothing, music, the weather etc. I am always in need of some inspiration to connect to my next big idea, project, trip, style and community.
I'm Jennifer Althouse, the founder of the vintage-inspired and multi-brand retailer Althouse.
Jennifer's Market Agenda:
I wake up at 6AM, workout, work from home for an hour answering emails then off to downtown where I will be at the show by 9AM.
Do you go into each season with certain expectations and if so what are they?
I don’t have any expectations of the show. If I find one or two brands that I will buy for the next season then I feel the show was successful for me.
What is your advice for designers looking to capture the attention of a store like Althouse?
Advice to designers – be you. Set yourself a part from others and just do you.
What do you assemble daily?
Every day I try and work on my social media presence and my website.