Posts tagged with "boutique"

Makeup Illustration for use by 360 Magazine

Art of Pure × Chicago

Art of Pure, a curator of clean beauty grounded in purity and sustainability, will open its first retail storefront this November. The new boutique, located at 958 W Armitage Ave. will offer a handpicked selection of local and internationally sourced skincare, makeup, haircare, modern wellness, personal care products, and eco-friendly home goods. Nurturing beauty, body, and wellness through truly natural, pure and potent products, Art of Pure ensures products are responsibly sourced, ethically produced, have a minimal environmental impact, and provide social good, while being free of any harmful ingredients. Art of Pure invites shoppers and the beauty community at large to access trusted and classic brands all while discovering unfamiliar gems.

“At Art of Pure, we are on a mission to prove that beauty can be synonymous with sustainability,” said Monika Joshi, founder and CEO of Art of Pure. “For years I have envisioned a store where green beauty lovers can shop without worrying about the ingredients, and I am thrilled to be able to share that vision with the community.”

Joshi, a former investment banker and mother, felt an urge to enter the beauty industry after spending countless hours researching skincare ingredients in an effort to understand her daughter’s eczema as well as her own issues with sensitive skin. Joshi became an expert in the field and decided to share her knowledge and product recommendations by launching the Art of Pure e-commerce store in 2017.

Art of Pure promises to bring safe, non-toxic, and entirely green solutions to customers through brands that seek to promote a health and wellness forward lifestyle. The new boutique will boast 1,000 square feet of space and serve as a physical extension of the online store, featuring products with high-performing, plant-based ingredients and actives. The store will carry all existing lines and categories along with new product lines including feminine wellness, environmentally friendly home goods, and gifts. As the focus is on sustainability, the store will include a soap and lotion refilling station. Customers will also be able to book a clean makeup application session with a professional makeup artist or a clean swap consultation. Additionally, Art of Pure will host wellness events, panels + discussions, and mini markets, all while helping foster community and dialogue. A mask bar will be offered at the store in the coming months as well.

Health and safety standards are uncompromising for Art of Pure. Ensuring transparency and thoughtful sourcing, Art of Pure tests every item, ingredient, and brand for performance and potency. Building on a foundation of growth and discovery, Art of Pure continues to learn and expand its knowledge base within the cosmetics industry, focused on continued research, thoughtful partnerships, and expanded knowledge.

For more information about the Art of Pure and its offerings, visit www.artofpure.com or follow along on Instagram and Facebook.

Image via Bspoke Associates for 360 Magazine

These White Walls at Nordelaia

Nordelaia – a new masterpiece by the award-winning design studio These White Walls

A marriage between rustic and luxe deep in the heart of Piedmont

Independent boutique hotel Nordelaia, situated in the UNESCO world heritage site of Montferrat, showcases design spearheaded by These White Walls. The 12 room estate, set in an 800-year-old farmhouse, was respectfully reinvented by British design studio These White Walls – best known for the multi-award-winning interiors of HIDE restaurant in Mayfair, London.

Our design for Nordelaia is centred around wellbeing and escapism; the aim being to create a holistic and nurturing environment in which guests can relax, switch off and connect – not only with each other – but also with the stunning landscape that surrounds them”, – says Rose Murray, Founder of These White Walls. We define this design as ‘rustic-luxe’, where rest and reconnection with nature go hand-in-hand with cultivated indulgence. Designers decided to maintain most of the old building’s original rustic appearance, trying to maintain a balance between rich cultural history and modern luxury. This union between the old and the new, the rustic and the lux, is what sets this project apart and makes it feel truly special – Rose notes.

These White Walls have carefully planned the concept of the rooms, embodying the philosophy of freedom in it. Some bedrooms have two wardrobes and two workspaces, symmetrically positioned opposite each other, as a reminder that we are all independent individuals connected by a common experience. The idea of solitude and reconnection with nature continues with the absence of TVs – thus Nordelaia invites guests to enjoy the digital detox that is so necessary in the modern world.

Following the aim to save connection with the authentic look of the estate and its history, designers chose textures and materials for the rooms that are in harmony with the unique atmosphere of the place. Surrounded by ornamental green spaces that extend from the guests’ own terraces, the ground floor Garden rooms feature textured materials, including rustic woods, natural stone burnished metals, and wrought iron. These sit in contrast to the Legacy rooms on the second floor that feature a more dramatic feel with luxurious materials such as velvet and brass. Tucked away at the top of the building are the cozy and wonderfully private Attico rooms. Much of the furniture is bespoke, created by local artisans with some key pieces and fittings from notable Italian designers.

The design of the restaurants is also inspired by their surroundings: the ground floor reflects bonds between earth and nature, revealed in deep shades of green and a palette reminiscent of soil and roots. In contrast, the first-floor restaurant is a reference to a blooming garden, embodied in shades of pink and peach.

Every element of the hotel’s design is crafted with thoughtful attention and symbolism. The kitchen counter is decorated with laser-cut brass detailed with the image of a dandelion blowing seeds into the wind. Designers also decided to add laser-cut insects to the light fitting as a reference to the emergence and spread of new ideas into the world. Such a concept echoes Nordelaia’s dining concept: Michelin starred chef Andrea Ribaldone and the resident chef Charles Pearce aim to respect local culinary traditions while simultaneously pushing boundaries and inviting guests to a gastronomic journey with brave experiments.

Nordelaia sees in nature not only inspiration but also a healing power: the hotel’s swimming pool offers incredible views of Montferrat Valley. At the spa facilities – one of a kind in the region – guests will be able to enjoy privacy and peaceful tranquillity with hammam, sauna and Kneipp pool, as well as yoga and gym spaces.

Follow Nordelaia via their website or Instagram

About Nordelaia

With easy access from Milan, Genoa and Turin, this 12-room hotel is set among five hectares of agricultural land. The hotel, respectfully built around a farmhouse dating back to the year 800, has been restored in full respect of the building’s historical elements, and to create a direct connection to the local nature and terroir. A striking new three-tier structure houses the hotel’s restaurant, bar and events space. In addition to the out door pool, the property includes 450 m2 spa area, overlooking both the valley below and Cremolino castle, featuring wet and dry facilities, treatments rooms. A hammam, sauna, Kneipp pool and light sensory herb room make up the wet area. There is also a yoga room and NOHrD equipped gym.

About These White Walls

These White Walls is a multi-award-winning luxury-led and concept-driven interior design studio based in London. Founded in 2017 by Rose Murray, the studio is recognised for its blank canvas approach to creativity that results in unique and beautifully crafted interiors. The studio creates bespoke interiors for the high-end hospitality and residential sectors as well as private clients and commercial brands. Previous projects include the renowned HIDE restaurant in Mayfair, London.

Armon Hayes image via Armon Hayes for use by 360 Magazine

Armon

Armon Hayes is an editor for 360 Magazine and the creative director for Ace of Haze Style of Ace (AOHSOA). Armon’s innovative eye for detail allows him to create long lasting partnerships with clientele as he helps them develop their personal brands. His design brand offers styling, design services, brand management, and lifestyle products. AOHSOA’s brand motto, “It’s not who you wear, how” encompasses the thoughtfulness with which Armon addresses each individual client to best emphasize their strengths and build their brands. This personalized approach to brand management and styling allows for AOHSOA to stand out in the field of design.

Armon describes his career aspirations regarding AOHSOA: “I’ve always dreamed of being an entrepreneur in the retail/fashion industry. In addition to feeding my own design sweet tooth, I enjoy developing design ideas and working with others to help them fulfill their own creative dreams. I have married these passions with the creation of Ace of Haze Style of Ace (AOHSOA) in 2017. My brand offers not only a street-luxe clothing line, but also styling and design services, home and children’s decor options, and brand management–all with the goal of motivating and empowering other creatives to look, feel, and produce their best. Our goal is to express creativity through fashion, art, and lifestyle, encompassing all creative endeavors. The focus at AOHSOA is elevating our lifestyle and transitioning our mindset. We live on the cutting-edge and believe that the key to brand success is being a part of–and influencers within–movements of change. Our motto is “It’s not who you wear, how.” This approach means that personal style should transcend past fashion trends to reflect your personality and your brand: you. Whether you’re getting back into the workforce or celebrating a milestone, when you look good, you feel good, and the world around you recognizes such. With this in mind, anyone and everyone can benefit from my brand. My clients include individuals, retail clothing brands, non-profit organizations, an independent recording artist, beauty brands and a pop culture and design magazine. Through our products, events and services, each client’s brand has been elevated. In turn, clients have been empowered to dream, create and develop their potential as they share their gifts with the world.”

Armon originally worked his way up in the retail industry, and now has created his own brand. He explains his journey to reaching his current achievements: “To me, success is measured as any opportunity from which I’ve had to learn and grow. In 2015/2016, before creating AOHSOA, I had the opportunity to participate in a spring product review when employed by True Religion as a store director. This experience sparked ideas in me for my future and gave me a raw understanding of the inner workings of a successful brand. My creativity and marketing sense was ignited in a way that I still look back on with gratitude. This experience led me to working as the assistant stylist for Toure Designs’ fashion show in 2018. At the fashion show, I had an idea that I felt would elevate a look just moments before the model was to walk the runway: having the model walk while shirtless. Fortunately, it was a very well received style suggestion. In that moment, I learned to trust my instincts, which has helped, and will continue to help, my endeavors with AOHSOA.

“More recently, I worked on several projects with independent recording artist, LaJune. As her personal stylist and creative director for three years, this is truly a passion project. During the pandemic, we collaborated on two live performances and two music videos. Additionally, we worked on an editorial shoot featuring Land Rover’s Defender to be featured in 360 Magazine. More recently, I hosted my second pop-up shop activation, The Bodega. The relaxed shopping event featured AOHSOA trunk options, and introduced a new assortment of blouses & dresses called “Onesie”. The one-size-fit-most offerings were a success, selling out of samples and having many orders placed. 2020 highlighted my need to develop a multifunctional living space, which has been an integral piece to my growth and development as a business owner. With the help of talented friends, family and supporters, we developed a space for myself and other creatives to come to develop their art and conduct business, with a twist. This living space has proved successful for both LaJune, AOHSOA, and my partners, as they may continue working, producing and creating safely during the uncertainty. The space, #360TRAP, has led to invaluable collaborations and partnerships.”

“While the pandemic has weighed heavy on small business owners, Armon found a way to take advantage of his downtime. He continues explaining how 2020 affected his career path and personal vision: “The pandemic has helped me realize the need for businesses and artists to pivot and evolve in order to overcome challenges. It became important to use the down time of lockdown wisely so that I wouldn’t lose the momentum I’ve generated, nor plateau creatively. I found myself unemployed and unable to operate AOHSOA in the traditional way. However, I felt even more committed to making AOHSOA successful and on the front lines of a movement of change. With the time the pandemic afforded me to commit myself to this passion full-time, I developed my administrative and brand management skill set in preparation for a resurgence. Additionally, the social justice movement gave people like myself an opportunity to reflect on the times and ways in which we can impact the world and its ecosystem. AOHSOA is committed to progress in diversity and inclusivity – it’s who we are. Expressing myself creatively supported me with a clearer perspective, and more importantly, an outlet for my process. I began sewing more, creating merchandise, and focusing on building my inventory and my social presence through blogging. I strategized around ensuring AOHSOA could survive and thrive in a pandemic, and set goals for the next six months. After creating a space, #360TRAP, in partnership with 360 Magazine, I developed concepts and ideas that mutually benefitted my business and my clients. I grew my client list and increased sales by $515 over this time last year. I honed in on social media engagement, adding a layer to my brand by sharing lifestyle aspects via my blog. On the blog, I discuss all things fashion, music and lifestyle, with elements of design. I am also working toward evolving this business into a bespoke brand with customized curations, as well as capsule fashion.

“As a precursor to World Blood Day and my birthday in June 2021, AOHSOA hosted a pop-up shop called the Bodega that featured several clients and sponsors. These collaborators included Respire by Design, The 6th Clothing Co., a local NYC tattoo artist,  Chinelos Tacos NYC food truck, CocoOil, and Zavor. The event was a direct response to realign and reconnect with my community post-isolation. I continued to develop concepts for LaJune, including a streetwear collection of merchandise for her third EP, Mind. The merchandise collection is titled #mindmerch, and has been made available to her fans and supporters of AOHSOA. Our partnership, live performances, and music videos led to a collaboration with Viacom and a video shot at Smash Studios. These challenging times have taught me to pivot (sometimes at a moment’s notice), adjust, and be consistent in executing my plans. Having a network of talented supporters and friends has allowed for delegation and shared responsibilities, and most importantly, resources. All of these efforts resulted in a 47% increase in site sessions over 2020, with 51% representing unique visitors retaining 38% of existing traffic. As we enter the fourth quarter of this year, at my digital shop we anticipate an increased in traffic shy of 26% of last year’s visitors. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, I committed myself to elevating my brand with proven success. I embrace future challenges with an open heart because I know they will only make me smarter and stronger.”

Armon continues to work to grow his innovative, fashionable design brand, Ace of Haze Style of Ace. Through conducting SWOT analyses and evaluating his business practices, Armon looks to the future with determination and his signature creative flair. He is committed to inclusivity and actively works to pay forward his successes. Armon looks to use the platform AOHSOA has granted him to continue to pursue his own dreams, and help others do the same. He looks to not only building his brand empire, but also giving back to his community through charitable endeavors and his design abilities. Through creating opportunities for and mentoring the next generation of future fashion entrepreneurs, Armon aims to aid other young creatives in finding their own personal brands.

In describing his brand’s business model, Armon remarks that ” I believe that newly formed corporations should add activations for their diverse team members to feel comfortable and accepted no matter their color, creed, belief, sexuality or religion, and I aim to have AOHSOA be a leader in this effort. I want to position my organization to reflect the “Ballroom” culture within the LGBTQ community, by fostering a movement in life & style and allowing creatives a safe space to hone their skills and talents while they build their network. I am also looking forward to becoming more active in charitable endeavors, specifically working with kids/teens to help them find their brand within.”

Follow AOHSOA on Instagram and check out their website.

Armon Hayes image via Armon Hayes for use by 360 Magazine

interior design illustration via Kaelen Felix for use by 360 Magazine

Home Decor Inspiration

Evesome’s Fall/Winter 2021 2022 Collection

Evesome’s Fall/Winter 2021 2022 collection features eye-catching decorations that are sure to compliment any space. The French boutique brand is designed in Paris and produced by artisans with an eye for detail. This lavish company invites luxury into your life with their newest look book. The colorful collection of both home goods and accessories makes for a vibrant, boho chic home display.

When entertaining, guests are sure to love lounging with Evesome’s ornamental tweed pillow. Dress up for the occasion with an elegant tweed coat, fuschia pink wrap scarf, or stylish pom-pom beanie. For everyday use, the company’s versatile totes and clutches are perfect for easy transport. To view all of Evesome’s products, please visit their website.

Evesome Fall Winter 2021 2022 look book featuring tweed pillow. Image via Vaughn Lowery for use by 360 Magazine

Viridian Bay Coastal Decor

Viridian Bay, an online home and garden decor company, celebrates coastal decor trends below that will give your home that beachy vibe. From candleholders and lanterns, to wind chimes and torches, there are so many ocean-themed decor options for both indoors and out. These laid-back, summertime interior design options will transform your home into an oceanic oasis.

Viridian Bay offers coastal creatures décor, featuring different creatures from the sea including octopuses, fish, sea urchins and starfish. The home and garden company also has ocean-themed lighting décor, such as a sandpiper lantern and seashell oil torches are a perfect way to add a soft glow to your outdoor living space. Not only sea-themed, but also useful and practical home details, try a pair of flip flop beach towel hooks, floating jellyfish bookends, or a shell-inspired hose holder.

Viridian Bay coastal decor image via Sharyn Frankel for use by 360 Magazine
Boutique illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Boutique Customer Service Tips

Customer Service Tips Every Boutique Retailer Should Try

By: Joseph Heller, small businesses expert and CEO of Supplied!

Supplied makes it easier for small boutique owners around the world to access high-quality, affordable wholesale boutique items, whether to stock their physical store or IG shop.

Do you remember the last time you had a truly fantastic customer service experience?

Maybe a cashier complimented your earrings, or maybe the person at the drive-thru unexpectedly threw an extra taco in for free. Or maybe you were just really vibin’ with the enthusiasm you could hear at the other end of the customer support line. Whatever it was, chances are it made you more excited to return and support that company with your business in the future.

Now… think back to the last time you had an awful customer service experience.

Was someone being unnecessarily difficult while you were trying to return a sweater, you’d bought a week ago? Or did someone leave you on hold for hours and hours? Or maybe someone just would NOT honor your coupon, even though you received it in an email yesterday?

Whatever that bad experience was… I’d be willing to bet it made you a whole lot less likely to go back anytime soon.

As Vince Lombardi famously said, “It takes months to find a customer and seconds to lose one.” One poor customer service experience could cause you to lose all of a valuable customer’s future business.

Offering better customer service skills often doesn’t cost a dime, but it can make a world of a difference for your profits. Studies show that acquiring a new customer can cost five times as much as retaining an existing customer. Plus, the success rate of marketing to a customer you already have is 60-70%, while it’s only 5-20% when marketing to a new customer. 

If you haven’t been making great customer service a major priority in your boutique lately, now is the time to change that. 

Read on to learn 25 powerful (but easy!) customer service tips every retailer should try implementing in their business.

(If you’ve hired someone else as the main customer service rep for your boutique business, send this article along to them as a reminder!)

Top 25 Customer Service Tips

Focus on the customer in front of you

As a boutique owner, you’ve constantly got about a zillion and one thing that need your time and attention. But when it’s a customer you’re dealing with, zero in on them and their needs. Nobody likes feeling unimportant – make sure you give them your undivided attention while they’re talking to you, whether it’s over the phone, in person, or in your site’s live chat.

Be empathetic

Chances are, you’ve been in the exact same situation your customer’s in right now – whether they’re trying to figure out what size shoe to purchase or they’re trying to initiate a return for something that didn’t turn out the way they’d hoped. Do your best to see the situation from their perspective. You’ll be able to provide a better customer experience if you’re in touch with their needs and emotions.

Make an extra effort

Work tirelessly to solve your customer’s problems. If a customer wants a certain size that’s out of stock, double-check your inventory, let them know when they can expect that item to come back, offer them alternatives, or give them a discount code for their trouble. Your customers will appreciate you going the extra mile for them.

Improve systems

Customer service isn’t just about making your customer feel valued while you’re speaking to them – it’s also about providing a great all-around customer experience. Do a quick audit of your website and make sure it’s user-friendly. Is it easy to check out? Browse new arrivals? Search for specific items? Purchase using the payment method they prefer? If not, set aside some time to make some adjustments.

Identify their needs

There might be all sorts of things you could be doing to provide a better customer experience that you don’t even realize yet. Put together a short survey to send out to your customers about the checkout process and their past customer service experiences. It’ll show you what’s going well and what you could improve.

Use their name

Simple, but effective. Whenever a customer reaches out to you, take note of their name and use it. It’ll give your communications a more personal touch. (Don’t forget to introduce yourself by name, too!) Bonus points if you remember other personal details about them for next time.

Smile

Yes, even if you’re not talking to the customer in person! Make an effort to be friendly and positive, even if you’re just sitting at your desk at home – you can totally hear a smile through the phone, and it makes a difference.

Be generous

If you could spend $5 to secure a customer who’s loyal to you for life… would you do it? Sometimes, that’s all it takes. When a customer reaches out to you, your priority is to make them happy – offering free shipping or accepting a late return can do just the trick. And that’s not just common sense – research shows that accepting someone’s generosity makes you feel indebted to them, which can translate to return business.

Don’t say “I don’t know”

Sure, you’re not gonna immediately have the answers to every single one of your customers’ questions… but it’s kinda your job to know. So, when you tell a customer “I don’t know,” what they hear is “I don’t care.” Not exactly the message you’d like to get across when you’re on the phone with a customer! Practice saying “Let me check on that for you” instead.

Celebrate birthdays

Acknowledging your customer’s birthdays is a surefire way to make them feel valued and appreciated. Ask your customers for your birthday as they sign up for your mailing list, then send them an email with a promo code for a free gift or a discount right before their special day.

Be clear about your policies

Your customers aren’t mind-readers – if you don’t let them know, they have no idea about how long shipping should take, where you ship to, or under what circumstances you accept returns. Be sure your shipping and returns policies are clearly stated on your website to avoid confusion. It’ll answer some questions before they’re ever even asked!

Honor your promises

Your customers need to know that they can trust your boutique to deliver the value it promises. Stick to the shipping and return policies you have listed on your website (unless you choose to go above and beyond them, of course!) Honor coupons and discount codes for as long as you said you would. Post any giveaway winners publicly in your stories. Trust is key!

Acknowledge frequent customers…

Let your return customers know how much you appreciate them! Whether you throw a quick handwritten thank-you note into their next order or you offer a discount code that’s good for their next purchase, it’ll definitely make them want to keep coming back.

But make sure new customers feel the love, too!

It’s a big leap to order from a company you’ve never purchased anything from before – make sure new customers feel super welcome. Acknowledge new customers by offering free shipping on their first order, sending a promo code when they sign up for your mailing list, or even sending a quick thank-you email for taking a chance on your shop.

Be transparent

Running a business is tough, and sometimes extenuating circumstances make it even tougher. Be open with your customers about the hurdles you’re currently going through, especially if it will affect shipping times or restock dates.

Sincerely apologize

We all make mistakes – especially when we’re doing huge, crazy difficult things like running a business. If you’ve made a mistake on a customer’s order, own your error, sincerely apologize, and do whatever it takes to make things right. It’s much more professional than shrugging off responsibility or blaming someone else. (Bonus points if you reach out and own up to it before the customer even notices!)

Make it easy to get in touch

Have you ever sent an email to a company’s customer service team… and then never heard anything back? Yeah, that’s the worst. Don’t be that company. Let your customers know the best way to reach you, whether it’s through Instagram DMs, email, or over the phone. If you want to go the extra mile, include a live chat feature on your website that’s available 24/7. (Also, word of advice: if you have a contact form on your website, make sure to check it every so often!)

Offer self-help customer service

If your customers can find their own answers to their questions, it makes their lives easier AND your life easier. Include a comprehensive FAQ page on your website that answers common questions about shipping, sales, returns, and more. For more complicated questions, you might want to write up an entire blog post to give your customers more information. Just be sure your customers still know that they can reach out to you with any questions they can’t find the answers to.

Plan for the holidays

Here’s a hot tip: over the holidays, things get BUSY. Even if you usually don’t have very many people blowing up your inbox about shipping questions, there’s a very good chance you will during the holidays. Make sure you’re prepared with multiple customer service reps helping respond to questions (if need be) and detailed holiday shipping info displayed on your website and social media pages.

Respond quickly

Make it a goal to respond to all customer emails within 48 hours whenever possible. No matter how busy you are, customers want to feel like their concerns and questions are a top priority. As for Instagram DMs, Facebook messages, and comments, try and get in a habit of responding to those right when you see them. (Your customers will like that and so will the algorithm!)

Hire the right people

If you’ve only recently opened your boutique business, you might be the only person your customers ever interact with. But as you grow and add more people to your team, make sure they’re people who are kind, friendly, and pleasant to interact with. Nobody’s perfect, but a positive attitude can make all the difference.

Be polite

Pretend you’re at the dinner table with your strict aunt – say lots of pleases and thank yous. Not only is it common courtesy, but it’s also good business. It’ll also help you still sound friendly and polite even when you’re communicating via messenger or text.

Set clear expectations

Sorry, but you’re not superwoman. When your customers approach you asking when they can buy an item you aren’t planning on restocking, or when they ask if you can make sure the package, they just ordered gets to them by tomorrow, sometimes you just can’t give them the answer they were hoping for. Be realistic in your responses and don’t make promises you can’t keep. Setting clear expectations is also helpful in responding to emails – sending an automated email letting a customer know when they can expect a response is also helpful, even if they were initially hoping for a reply right away.

Be human

There isn’t a robot at the other end of all of those incoming customer emails – it’s bright, bubbly, sparkly you! Don’t be afraid to infuse your communications with your genuine personality. Strike up a conversation with a customer on the phone, ask about their day, say “top of the morning to ya” instead of “hello” when you feel like it. It’ll help forge a relationship with your customers!

Offer suggestions

Have you ever asked a waiter what you should order, only for them to respond, “I love everything on the menu equally!” Yeah, that’s not helpful – don’t be like that guy. When your customers ask for your opinion, politely give it. You’re the real expert on the products you carry – use your insider knowledge to guide your customers to the right decision for them.

Create Your Free Wholesale Account Today

Joseph Heller
Joseph Heller, small businesses expert and CEO of Supplied!
Illustration of models by Rita Azar for 360 Magazine

Advice Every Fashion Student Should Read

Are you about to enter the challenging but very exciting world of fashion school? Are you prepared for what’s ahead as you embark on your design studies? Do you know what to expect during the first year? Don’t worry if not, as we’re about to share some important advice that every fashion student should know. 

Fashion School Is Expensive

The cost of going to college is not cheap. You need to pay fees and you need to have enough money to live comfortably. You don’t want to be scraping by – you want to enjoy your college years and make lifelong memories with the new people in your life. Looking into ways that will give you a bit more breathing room financially is always a good move. 

Is it possible to take on a part time job at the weekends so you have extra cash? Can you refinance your existing student loan with a private lender so you’re left with one monthly repayment? By doing so, you can choose your payment and term and enjoy more flexibility with your monthly cash flow. Have you talked to your parents about how they could help you out? There are lots of options available to make the burden of paying for fashion school a lot more bearable. 

Always Think About Your Portfolio

It’s a good idea to treat every project you complete like it will be part of your final portfolio. Not only will you do your absolute best to produce the best work you can but you’ll also be extra focused and motivated when it comes to meeting deadlines. Follow this simple advice and you’ll leave college with top grades and a huge selection of work samples. 

Stay Up to Date with Trends

Fashion school and keeping on top of new trends go hand in hand. If you really want to excel, don’t be the fashion designer who waits for new trends to arrive before jumping on the bandwagon. Why not be the person who stays ahead of trends – the person who knows what’s coming before everyone else does? The secret to staying ahead is keeping informed. Watch – or attend – fashion week if possible. Follow big stylists on social media. Check your local high-end boutiques for new collections. Spend your spare time studying celebrity stylists. These are all ways to keep your finger on the pulse of new and upcoming trends. 

Learn How to Sew

Do you know how to sew? If not, it’s time to learn. Great fashion designers learn how to sew early on in their careers so they can understand the different fabrics and get used to working with a wide range of threads and materials. To be successful, it’s important to understand the construction of clothing and what’s involved in making a beautiful garment. 

Be Tech-Savvy

Fashion school has not escaped the advancements of technology. It’s now essential for students to understand the different fashion design software platforms that are changing the way designers work. What do you need to focus on in terms of technology? You need to get familiar with 3D printing so you can create 3D models of your designs before production starts. You also need to gain expertise in body scanning, smart tailoring and the world of augmented reality. 

Valentine Image by Kaelen Felix for 360 Magazine

15 Valentine’s Day Marketing Ideas for Your Boutique

By Joseph Heller

Love is in the air, gals… Valentine’s Day is almost here! If you’re new to owning an online boutique and this is the first Valentine’s Day you’ll be celebrating as a small business owner, the approach of February 14th might have you mainly thinking about what you’ll get for your significant other and (maybe even more so) what he or she will get for you. Or maybe you typically spend Valentine’s Day with your best single gal pals, eating chocolate and exchanging gifts.

But Valentine’s Day isn’t all about love, romance, and cheesy cards. No matter how big or small your eCommerce business is, it can be a day that drives sales like no other – especially if you sell clothing, jewelry, or other gifts. In fact, it rivals only Christmas in consumer spending. If you play your cards right, the days surrounding Valentine’s Day could make up one of your best sales weeks of all time.

Of course, competing with major retailers isn’t easy, least of all on Valentine’s Day. Stores all over the country are spending thousands of dollars on Valentine’s marketing, trying to get people to buy their gifts from them. Sure, you could have an incredible selection of Valentine’s gifts and accessories, available for great prices – but if nobody knows about your shop, it won’t do you any good in the end.

If you’re going to drive both new and existing customers to your shop for their Valentine’s shopping, you’ve got to get creative about your Valentine’s Day marketing. Read on to learn 15 affordable Valentine’s Day marketing ideas for your boutique – and why you really should care to do something special for this holiday in the first place.

Valentine’s Day and eCommerce

The numbers are clear – Americans spend a whole lot of dough on Valentine’s Day. The average American celebrating Valentine’s Day spent $196.31 on Valentine’s Day in 2020, adding up to a total of $27.4 billion spent on the holiday in 2020. Trends show that number only heading upwards – 2020 spending was up 32% from 2019.

Of course, that’s just the big picture – and not all of that money is being spent in boutiques like yours. Here are a few other stats you should be aware of that paint the picture of consumer spending on Valentine’s Day, based on 2020 numbers:

  • 32% buy Valentine’s Day gifts from discount stores.
  • Men spend nearly three times as much as women on Valentine’s Day.
  • $5.8B was spent on Valentine’s Day jewelry
  • $4.3B was spent on a Valentine’s Day night out
  • $2.4B was spent on Valentine’s Day chocolate
  • $2.3B was spent on flowers
  • $2B was spent on Valentine’s Day gift cards
  • $1.3B was spent on Valentine’s Day greeting cards
  • 45% of adults didn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day
  • 15% of Americans buy themselves a present on Valentine’s Day
  • Americans spend an average of $12.21 on Valentine’s Day gifts for their pets

With all of that shopping and spending going on during the Valentine’s Day season, you’ll want to make sure your business ends up with even a small sliver of that massive pie. Running holiday-themed campaigns and upping your marketing efforts leading up to Valentine’s Day will help you keep your boutique fresh in people’s minds and increase the chances that they go straight to you once it’s time to shop for their Valentine’s Day gifts.

15 Valentine’s Day Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

Don’t have a huge marketing budget? No problem – with time, effort, and the right direction, you can still get your boutique’s awesome Valentine’s Day gifts and products in front of the right people. Here are 15 Valentine’s Day marketing ideas for small businesses that you can implement for little or no money.

  1. Send a themed email marketing campaign

Instead of generic email newsletters or sale messages, send a themed Valentine’s Day email that’s all about love, friendship, and gift-giving. Drive your audience to your website with gift suggestions and fun Valentine’s-themed wordplay. (You know… “love is in the air,” “we will always love you,” “gifts with heart,” etc!) For more tips on how to use email marketing to grow your boutique, click here.

  1. Host a contest

Embrace the holiday and host a fun couples contest or giveaway on your boutique’s social media page. Don’t be afraid to get creative! Have participants recreate a photo, do a challenge, coordinate an outfit together using a piece from your shop – whatever sounds like a good time. Then, have your audience vote for their favorite entrant on Valentine’s Day. (No need to exclude single people from this one – you could welcome entries from couples, BFFs, family members, etc.)

  1. Run “couples” deals

How do you make a BOGO deal more festive? Call it a couples deal, or a two for one deal! Choose a selection of Valentine’s Day items that you’ll put on sale, whether it’s chocolates, earrings, or pink scrunchies. Encourage them to gift the extra item to their significant other, give one to their BFF for Galentine’s Day, or just keep it for themselves as a token of your love for them!

  1. Partner with another small business

Community over competition, right ladies? Partner with a local business and share the love. It could be another online boutique or a local business that doesn’t directly compete with yours but has a similar clientele, like a florist or a nail salon. Offer a combined Valentine’s Day gift package of your products/services and theirs. This is an especially great idea if you have a strong local presence (or if you’re interested in making it stronger!)

  1. Celebrate Galentine’s Day

Don’t sleep on Galentine’s Day! Coined by Leslie Knope from the TV show Parks and Recreation, Galentine’s Day is a day reserved for celebrating female friendships. It takes place the day before Valentine’s Day, February 13th. To celebrate, bundle a few of your most popular items offer curated gift packages that’d be perfect to gift to a best friend. You could also offer a discount when they multiple of the same item to gift to their friends.

  1. Have a V-Day themed photoshoot

Create some fun Valentine’s Day photos to post on your social media accounts leading up to the big day. You could take photos of couples wearing your clothing, flat lays of all of the red and pink items you carry, or outfit inspo photos against a red or a pink backdrop.

  1. Create a Valentine’s Day gift guide

You and I both know how hard it can be to shop for people – especially your significant other. Make the whole V-day shopping experience a little less stressful by putting together a list of gift ideas and sharing it on your company blog.

No need to have every single item come from just your shop – in fact, it might be more helpful and comprehensive if you scour other local or small boutiques as well and feature their products in your guide. (It’s a great way to open the door to new networking relationships, too!) If you’re feeling up to it, you could create multiple gift guides with different people in mind – for her, for him, for mom, for Galentine’s Day, for your pet, etc.

  1. Send a card

Everyone loves getting mail! Send your past and present customers a real-life Valentine via snail mail. No need to be salesy – the point of this is to show your customers how much you appreciate them and that you’re even thinking about them on the day dedicated to love. Include a coupon to be used in-store or a unique promo code to thank them for showing you and your store love throughout the years.

  1. Share the love

Turn your social media into even more of a community. Invite your audience to share their love stories with you, whether through DMs or by using a certain hashtag in their posts. You can make this as sappy or spicy as you want to – feel free to mix things up a bit by also asking people to send you their worst or funniest dating stories as well! Once you’ve compiled submissions, feature your favorites in your stories. It’ll keep the rest of your audience engaged and help participants feel even more involved in your brand.

  1. Show the love locally

Valentine’s Day is all about sharing the love. What better way to do that than by giving back to the people who need it most? Celebrate Valentine’s Day by hosting a service project, donating products from your store to a local organization, or pledging to donate a certain percentage of your profits in the weeks surrounding Valentine’s Day.

Make sure to advertise this throughout your social channels and your website so your customers know how much good their purchases are doing. Not only will you be able to make a real difference in your community, but you’ll also be able to involve your customers in your charity work.

  1. Highlight date night outfits

People don’t just spend money on gifts during the Valentine’s Day season. They also spend money on themselves, buying clothing, lingerie, date night jewelry, and more. Put together a few fabulous Valentine’s Day outfits using products from your boutique and share a few outfit inspo photos on social media. Be sure to group those products together on your website so your customers can easily purchase everything they need to recreate the outfit.

  1. Don’t alienate single people

For people who aren’t currently in a relationship, Valentine’s Day feels a whole lot more like Singles Awareness Day. Why not go out of your way to show them a little love, too? Don’t leave single people out of all the Valentine’s Day fun – consider running some sort of promo just for them. Run a sale on self-care items that make treat yo’ self gifts, like bath bombs, jade rollers, and (of course) chocolate. You could do this in conjunction with your regular Valentine’s Day promotions or the week before.

  1. Be clear about shipping deadlines

Some people plan ahead of every holiday and finish their gift-shopping weeks in advance – but most people tend to be last-minute Valentine’s Day shoppers. Of course, placing a last-minute order from your online boutique on February 13th probably isn’t going to work out for them. Add a banner to your site reminding shoppers of the Valentine’s Day delivery deadline. Be clear and realistic about shipping cutoffs to receive items by Valentine’s Day. Encourage people to buy early, especially with COVID-related shipping delays making package deliveries even more unreliable than usual.

  1. Make a Valentine’s Day video

When it comes to commanding your audience’s attention, video is one of the very most effective marketing tools out there. Rather than just snapping a few photos of your new Valentine’s Day products, create a video showcasing your favorite Valentine’s Day outfits or gift ideas. You could create a short-form vertical video using IG reels or TikTok, or share a longer informative video on YouTube, Facebook, or IGTV.

  1. Host a Giveaway

Spread the love with an exciting giveaway. Partner with other small businesses in your community or your niche to give something away. It could be a romantic couple’s getaway with flowers, a hotel stay, and a new outfit, a date-night-in package with a dress, a romantic candle, chocolates, and a voucher for fancy takeout, or an epic Valentine’s Day shopping spree. Just make sure it’s somewhat Valentine’s Day related, whether with what you’re giving away, how you enter, or even just with the images and language you use to introduce it.

While implementing these Valentine’s Day marketing ideas might take some serious thought and strategizing, with a little effort they can pay off in a big way.

Now that you have a few great ideas on how you can encourage your customers to shop with you this Valentine’s Day, make sure you’ll have enough Valentine’s Day gifts and outfit ideas in stock ahead of time. Click here for 15 wholesale boutique items you’ll want to stock up on for Valentine’s Day.

Divine Tours

DIVINE TOURS LAUNCHES COUTURISTA TRAVEL TO PROVIDE LUXURY, FASHION-FOCUSED TRAVEL EXPERIENCES

Now Booking its First Tour: A Curated Visit to Tuscany in April 2019

Since 1996, DiVine Tours has been providing innovative luxury travel excursions throughout Italy. This spring, DiVine Tours will launch their newest extension: Couturista Travel – a travel experience personalized for connoisseurs of high-end fashion, gourmet cuisine, and luxury lifestyle. Couturista Travel is now booking for its April fashion-focused journey through Tuscany, followed by trips to Miami and Mexico later in the year.

The inaugural trip, entitled Tuscany Couture, includes stays in luxury fashion inspired hotels such as the Ferragamo-owned Gallery Art Hotel, exclusive vineyard tours, and VIP access and discounts at the world’s leading fashion retailers. Travelers will enjoy once-in-a-lifetime, exclusive, curated access to shops including Prada, Gucci, Armani, Ferragamo, Emilio Pucci, Sergio Rossi, Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana, and many more.

Couturistas will begin their nine-day-long escape in Florence on April 6th, 2019 with a reception and welcome dinner. The following day will include an intimate inside look into the history of Italian Fashion, then & now, via private tours through the culture rich UNESCO City. Expert guides will then transport guests back to the 18th century via the Pitti Palace Costume Gallery, featuring rich collections that represent the evolution of fashion for didactic purposes.

The historical experiences will also include a visit to the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum. Dedicated to the life and work of the famed Italian shoe designer, the museum contains over 10,000 models of shoes and a variety of exhibits dedicated to the life and work of Ferragamo from the 1920’s until his death in 1960.

In addition to visits to Italy’s top historical fashion destinations and some of the most sophisticated shopping in the world, the Tuscany Couture trip includes visits to local artisan’s workshops, private trunk shows, dining at Florence’s most revered restaurants and guided visits to the iconic sites in historical cities throughout the Tuscan region.

“Tuscany Couture is the ideal vacation framed by the magic and elegance of Florence. Suited for the curious shopper or the fashion-savvy, a group of friends seeking the ultimate getaway, or even the mother-daughter duo looking for a bonding retreat,” said Myriam Angulo, co-founder of Couturista Travel. “There is so much to see in Florence and Chianti besides the traditional visits to see renowned art and wine tastings. Couturista organizers use their personal knowledge and intimate relationships to open the doors to artisan shoemakers, pop-up shops, flagship stores and everything in between. Tuscany Couture is the perfect trip for the inquisitive, divine traveler.”

Tuscany Couture’s $6,999 pp fee includes the complete land program with transportation, deluxe hotel accommodations, English-speaking guides, daily breakfast buffets, welcome and farewell dinners, shopping tours, museum entrances, winery visits, and many more activities for travelers looking to do it all.

With some days planned out and others that allow Couturistas to explore suggested sites on their own, each traveler has the ability to mold their vacation to fit their every want and desire. There are also unique extension options for those who want to extend their stay in Italy with opportunities to spend three additional days in the North or South of Florence.

Following the trip to Tuscany, Couturista Travel will offer innovative programs in the Magic City that is Miami with two distinct themes: Exploration of Art and Curated Shopping; as well as an opportunity to explore and shop Mexico later in the year.

About DiVine Tours & Couturista Travel

DiVine Tours is a boutique tour operation specializing in exclusive Wine Tours, and Gourmet Programs in Italy since 1996. Most recently, they have branched out to develop COUTURISTA TRAVEL, which offers new Curated Fashion Shopping Experiences in famous locations as well as in new, undiscovered destinations. Originally based out of Chianti, Italy, director and owner Myriam Angulo has come back home to Miami, Florida and is determined to bring couture lifestyle back to the tour industry.

Couturista Travel is now accepting reservations for Tuscany Couture taking place on April 6th – 14th.

For booking information, visit www.couturistatravel.com or contact info@couturistatravel.com / 1-877-COUTRVL (1-877-268-8785)

Alter’d Relics

By Hannah Audrey Lowe x Vaughn Lowery

Walking down the street in Barberton, Ohio you cannot help but notice this vintage inspired boutique for all things fabulous. As you walk through the doors and passed the “Come in, We’re Awesome” sign, the tranquility and happiness of the shop envelops you in its arms.

The happiness lifts your spirits and the sophisticated eclectic decoration captures all of your attention, leaving you unable to focus on anything else. To top off the sensation of this beautiful store, you are greeted with a very warm “hello” by possibly the most fashionable woman to walk this earth; the owner, Pamela.

Since a young girl, Pamela has always been interested in fashion and fashion design. At an early age, she entered design competitions and won, made her own clothing and since, made both of her daughter’s wedding dresses. Contrary to her hearts desires, she began a career in the medical administration field, always having a passion for fashion burning the in the back of her mind. After 20 plus years in the heath industry she finally decided it was time to open – Alter’d Relics.

Her passion for all things vintage, comfortable yet fashion forward clothing and support for shopping local is evident. Everything sold in the boutique is chosen carefully by Pamela; encouraging local businesses and ensuring her clientele with the most beautiful selection imaginable.

Creative director & Stylist: Hannah Audrey Lowe

Photographer: Brody Calix

Makeup Artist: Chelsea Miles

Models: Caitlyn Smith, Grace Offerdahl, Destiny Callahan

Assistant to the Creative Director: Seraphina Lowe

Guatemala X Swae Lee

Artist Swae Lee of Rae Sremmurd is seen wearing GIGI BURRIS MILLINERY on cover art of the new single “Guatemala.” Swae Lee shared the cover art for “Guatemala” featuring the artist styled in the iconic “Ete Raffia Hat” from New York-based milliner Gigi Burris. The raw edge raffia sunhat with a cotton ribbon trim retails for $355.00 in a variety of colors at www.gigiburris.com


Gigi Burris Ete Raffia hat
$355.00
www.gigiburris.com

ABOUT GIGI BURRIS
Gigi Burris Millinery is a New York based luxury accessories line of hats and headpieces. The brand was a 2014 CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund Finalist and 2016 CFDA Award Nominee.  It is exclusively distributed internationally at boutiques such as Elyse Walker, Lane Crawford, Neiman Marcus, and The Webster. More info can be found at www.gigiburris.com